The Resident Took Ian Past The Point Of No Return, And I'm Flashing Back To ER

Andrew McCarthy as Dr. Ian Sullivan in The Resident Season 6
(Image credit: Fox)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 8 of The Resident Season 6, called “The Better Part of Valor.”

Dr. Ian Sullivan has been trying to continue and hide his drug problem through The Resident Season 6, coming dangerously close to getting caught and/or causing permanent damage to patients more than once. That trend is seemingly ending as of the conclusion of “The Better Part of Valor,” as he came clean to Cade and agreed to check into rehab. Of course, it didn’t happen without some complications, and I was flashing back to ER and Noah Wyle’s Dr. John Carter by the end of the hour. 

What Happened To Ian On The Resident

While Ian (played by new series regular Andrew McCarthy) deserves some credit for finally going to his daughter to come clean(ish) and ask for help, it wasn’t because he was suddenly wracked with guilt and wanted to go cold turkey on the pain meds. He was caught stealing drugs, and even though he wasn’t directly accused, his string of luck was running out. After confessing to his daughter, he asked her to prescribe him some drugs, but she refused and only offered to keep his secret if he agreed to go to rehab. Otherwise, she would expose what he’d been doing, and it would cost him his career. 

There was some back and forth of Ian trying to bargain with her before he realized that rehab was the only way to deal with his addiction and not lose his medical license. She refused to make any deals to go easy on him, but kept true to her word of not telling Conrad or Kit as long as he agreed to go. She even found a facility that specialized in treating doctors with addictions, as her father was far from the first or only physician to become hooked on drugs. 

It seems that The Resident is taking Ian in some positive directions if all goes well with his rehab, although there’s still some potential drama if Conrad and/or Kit find out that Cade helped her dad instead of reporting him. There’s no saying at this point what comes next, but I have to say that what happened so far had me flashing back to ER so much that I’m about ready to hit up my Hulu subscription to revisit Season 6 of NBC’s hit medical drama from back in the day. 

Spoilers ahead for the sixth season of ER.

Noah Wyle as Dr. John Carter on ER Season 6

(Image credit: NBC)

How Ian's Drug Problem Is Similar To ER

ER was a groundbreaking medical drama that ran from 1994 - 2009, and Season 6 delivered some of the most memorable twists of all 15 seasons. After Noah Wyle’s Dr. John Carter was brutally stabbed in an incident that also resulted in the death of his med student (and that The Good Doctor emulated earlier this year), he became addicted to initially prescribed pain relievers during his recovery. He escalated to stealing drugs and was ultimately caught in the act.

Unlike Ian on The Resident more than 20 years later, Carter didn’t take this as a sign that he should come clean to anybody and try to get ahead of the problem, and Maura Tierney’s Abby did ultimately report him to their bosses. They gave him the ultimatum of either voluntarily going to a rehab that specialized in treating doctors with addictions, or being fired from the hospital. Carter initially stormed out and punched his mentor in the face, but that was enough for him to realize how far he had fallen. Carter went off to rehab. 

ER and The Resident didn’t handle a doctor with a drug addiction quite the same, as Ian is far older and more experienced than Carter was, and Carter only agreed to rehab after an intervention from a number of the other doctors and a confrontation with his mentor. 

The two shows are also very different, even though both are medical dramas. Still, the ER fan in me was flashing back to Season 6 while watching Ian’s story unfold in a way that was similar to Carter’s, and I’m not mad about it. Who knows if The Resident or any of the other medical dramas would be on the air today if not for ER becoming such a huge hit for such a long time in primetime?

See what’s next for Ian and Co. with new episodes of The Resident on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. Whatever happens for him, it would be a shame if it leads to conflict between Conrad and Cade. Aside from the sparks flying between Conrad and Billie, Cade’s relationship with him has been going strong, and the only snag involved her father and his drug problem. To start planning ahead for the new year, check out our 2023 TV premiere schedule

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.