hospital room

Kingdom Hospital

Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital is a thirteen-episode miniseries based on Lars von Trier's "The Kingdom" (aka Riget), which was developed by horror writer Stephen King in 2004 for American television. It was first aired on ABC on March 3 and was scheduled to conclude on July 15, 2004. The show airing was put on hold during NBA playoffs half way through, but resumed airing on June 24, and concluded mid-August.

Plot summary

The story tells of the fictional Kingdom Hospital located in Lewiston, Maine built on the site of a mill that manufactured military uniforms during the American Civil War. Previously, a hospital known as the "Old Kingdom" had been built on the site, but it burnt down. The current hospital is known as the "New Kingdom". The hospital's "turbulent" nature seems to reflect its ominous logo, a crimson stylized dagger, predicting what will come.

A psychic named Mrs. Druse has checked into the hospital numerous times and is taken by the staff to be a hypochondriac. She asks for the assistance of Dr. Hook to uncover the truth about the hospital and the mysterious spirits who haunt it — including a young girl, killed after the original fire; a teenage boy who was subjected to horrible test experiments in the Old Kingdom; and a strange animal, similar to a giant anteater, whose long snout opens up to a horrifying set of teeth.

And elsewhere, Peter Rickman, a painter who is admitted to the hospital following a road accident (with severe injuries to his skull and spine) begins to discover the ghastly goings-on while he lies comatose in room 426.

Other subplots included the initiation of arrogant chief of surgery Dr. Stegman into the secret society known as the 'Keepers', and the challenged-at-every-turn flirtation between young Dr. Elmer Traff and sleep doctor Lona Massingale.

The series is known for its tangential plots and characters who recur throughout, it is—as King called it—a "novelization for television".

While written as a mini-series, many fans wanted it to be renewed for a second season, and Stephen King himself had had a storyboard written out for one. Despite incredibly successful ratings for the first episode—making it the highest rating drama debut of the year on ABC—ratings sharply fell. The season averaged just over 5 million viewers per episode.

The entire miniseries is now available on DVD.


The hospital staff

  • Andrew McCarthy as Dr. Hook, the handsome surgeon who lives in the hospital's basement, and who has made it his life's work to destroy incompetence among doctors.
  • Bruce Davison as Dr. Stegman, the arrogant neurosurgeon who is on the verge of being initiatied into the secret society of Kingdom Hospital, despite his numerous malpractice suits. He is given to repetitive bragging of his "great career" in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Meagen Fay as Dr. Brenda Abelson, Steg's only true friend in the hospital, an ambitious woman who would stop at nothing for what she wants.
  • Ed Begley Jr. as Dr. Jesse James, Kingdom's Chief of Staff, and member of the 'Keepers' - the Secret Society, who spends his time initiating "Operation: Morning Air".
  • Jamie Harrold as Dr. Elmer Traff, a young surgeon whose father is an important man in the hospital.
  • Sherry Miller as Dr. Lona Massingale, the enigmatic sleep doctor, and love interest of Elmer, despite her determination not to get involved with "a child".
  • Allison Hossack as Dr. Christine Draper, Kingdom's friendliest doctor, who has a romantic interest in Doctor Hook.
  • William Wise as Dr. Louis Traff, the leader of the Keepers, and also an important doctor at Kingdom; its longest serving member.
  • Lena Georgas as Nurse Carrie von Trier Peter's nurse, afraid of blood.
  • Brandon Bauer as Abel Lyon, an orderly, with Down Syndrome, who sneaks around Kingdom Hospital with his friend Christa, being a trickster. Both he and Christa have an uncanny knack of knowing all the hospital's goings-on, including those of the otherworld.
  • Jennifer Cunningham as Christa, Abel's partner-in-crime, who also has Down Syndrome. Abel and Christa show a strange affinity for the hospital's mechanical workings.
  • Julian Richings as Otto, the all-purpose man of Kingdom, who regularly watches the security feeds. Otto is accompanied by Blondi, an intelligent German Shepherd dog. Blondi has on several occasions shown self-consciousness and actual thought capabilities; as an in-joke, he thinks in a German accent. Blondi's name is possibly a reference to Adolf Hitler's German Shepherd dog, also named Blondi.
  • Del Pentecost as Bobby Drusse, Mrs. Drusse's son, and an orderly at the hospital.

Patients, past and present

  • Diane Ladd as Sally Drusse, a professed psychic, who regularly checks into Kingdom Hospital for all sorts of complaints, and who is determined to discover the truth lurking in the hospital's depths.
  • Jack Coleman as Peter Rickman, comatose painter who is discovering the past and future of Kingdom.
  • Suki Kaiser as Natalie Rickman, Peter's wife, determined not to believe in the phenomena plaguing Kingdom.
  • Jodelle Micah Ferland as Mary, the ghost of a girl murdered to cover up the arson of the mill in the 1860s; she is a symbol of death in Kingdom Hospital.
  • Kett Turton as Paul, a boy killed in the Old Kingdom, who haunts the hospital as a figure of evil.
  • Richings and Turton provide the voices of Blondi the dog and Antubis the anteater, respectively.

Recurring cast

Charles Martin Smith, Lorena Gale (Battlestar Galactica), Bruce Harwood (The Lone Gunmen), Evangeline Lilly (Lost), Tygh Runyan (The L Word), Peter Wingfield {Highlander: The Series), Callum Keith Rennie (Due South) and Christine Willes (Dead Like Me) all have guest appearances.


Thy Kingdom Come

Peter Rickman is admitted to hospital and, while in surgery, begins to discover Kingdom Hospital is more than it seems; Dr. Stegman asks vacuous Chief of Staff Dr. James to help him rid the hospital of hypochondriac Mrs. Druse; and earthquakes hit Kingdom.

  • Takes place: October 22, 2003 (see below)
  • 2 hour episode
  • The premiere attracted 14.1 million US viewers and brought in an 8.7/14 rating/share.

Death's Kingdom

Peter's hit-and-run driver arrives at Kingdom, becoming one of the first to witness the strange events building there; Elmer attempts to attract Lona during a dinner in the morgue; and Hook schemes to keep Mrs. Druse on for observational purposes.

  • Takes place: October 22, 2003
  • Attracted 8.5 million viewers and a 5.7/10 rating/share

Goodbye Kiss

Dr. Hook becomes drawn into Mrs. Druse's plight after seeing the ghost of Mary; a prisoner and his girlfriend plan a suicide pact gone wrong when the prisoner is saved by the staff; Dr. Stegman is accused of malpractice again; and Peter is visited by the spirits of Kingdom in the form of Mary and Paul.

  • Takes place: October 22, 2003
  • Attracted 7.1 million viewers and a 4.9/8 rating/share

The West Side of Midnight

Dr. Traff's ex-wife dies on the operating table; Elmer dreams of Antubis; the deceased Lenny helps Mrs. Druse in her quest; Stegman goes crazy after finding his car defaced and decides to find the culprits; Paul uses Pedersen to get rid of Mrs. Druse. Kingdom suffers a second earthquake.

Hook's Kingdom

Paul and Antubis face off; Pedersen plots to kill his roommate; Dr. Gupta is stunned by the likeness of a dead patient to Elmer; Elmer and Lona flirt in the sleep lab; Dr. Hook shows Draper his home in the bowels of the Kingdom; Mary reaches out to Peter; Abel and Christa ask a favor of Dr. James; and the believers gather in "Hook's Kingdom".

  • Takes place: October 23, 2003
  • Attracted 5.1 million viewers and a 3.5/6 rating/share

The Young and the Headless

Dr. James holds a dinner to get funding for an investigative project into the earthquakes, which involves the accidental destruction of a recovering alcoholic seismologist; Steg's initiation goes ahead, while Brenda destroys documents incriminating him; Peter, Paul, Mary, Antubis and the headless victim wander the bowels of the hospital and Elmer uses a corpse to play a trick on Lona, but it goes wrong.

  • Takes place: October 23, 2003
  • Attracted 3.7 million viewers and a 2.5/4 rating share

Black Noise

Elmer is suspected of desecrating the corpse, while its headless body wanders the corridors below Kingdom; Hook's new patient is a self-serving attorney who finds himself sharing a room with the badly-burnt Rolf Pederson; Peter's new roommate - meanwhile - is a seismologist brought in to study the earthquakes, and his paranoid thoughts on the hospital make him the perfect partner to help Mrs. Druse and Natalie save Mary; Druse asks Bobby to help her gain access to medical records; and Dr. James holds a meeting for all staff in which he attempts to ascertain if Kingdom is haunted - an idea Steg is heavily against.

  • Takes place: October 24, 2003
  • Attracted 3.5 million viewers and a 2.3/4 rating/share


Fleischer schemes to get himself moved up the transplant list, by making a deadly deal with Antubis; Natalie and Mrs. Druse discover more secrets about Mary and the Gates Mill Fire of 1869; Hook uses the missing head to gain Elmer's help in bringing down Steg; Steg's day goes from bad to worse as he begins losing his sanity; Massingale and Elmer experience a bizarre dream experience; Hook learns of the 1869 and 1939 fires on the site of Kingdom; and Draper and Mrs. Druse suffer at the hands of Steg, the former losing credit on a story in a medical journal, the latter being confined to her bed.

  • Takes place: October 25, 2003
  • Attracted 3.8 million viewers and a 2.6/4 rating/share


The day of the World Series final brings excitement to everyone at Kingdom, except Steg, but a suicide attempt by disgraced former New England Robins player Earl "Error" Candleton sees tension building amongst the staff, and it is up to Peter and Mary to save Candleton from Paul, and an untimely death.

  • Takes place: October 26, 2003
  • Attracted 2.6 million viewers and a 1.8/3 rating/share

The Passion of Reverend Jimmy

Reverend Jimmy is crucified in a back alley, and his body becomes the source of a series of miracles which profoundly affect Nurse Wright. As the miracles grow, thousands converge upon Kingdom Hospital, waiting for the anticipated resurrection of the Reverend. Elsewhere, Massingale, Havens and Otto are trapped in the morgue after an earthquake; Dr. Schwartzon predicts the future; Steg entices Brenda to destroy incriminating evidence against him, while Hook schemes to get that evidence back with Elmer's "help"; and Natalie and Mrs. Druse continue to learn more of Mary's death.

  • Takes place: October 27, 28 and 29, 2003
  • aka "On the Third Day"
  • Attracted 3.0 million viewers and a 2.0/3 rating/share

Seizure Day

A mounted policeman patrols near the hospital and gets knocked down by a blinding light, and is brought to the hospital where he convulses and has seizures. Dr. Hook sees a pattern of the people revolving around the hospital who experienced the same thing. Bobby Druse is sent by Sally to retrieve old hospital files about Mary, Elmer is sent by Hook to retrieve a file related to the Mona Klingerman case and Brenda is sent by Stegman to retrieve the same Klingerman document. Antubis makes Stegman hallucinate during an operation on a patient's brain. While Steg meets with lawyers in the Klingerman case, Lona investigates Elmer's strange dreams, and Hook and Draper get closer together.

  • Takes place: October 29, 30 and 31, 2003
  • Attracted 2.6 million viewers and a 1.8/3 rating/share

Shoulda Stood in Bed

Dr. James continues work on his "Operation: Morning Air" badges; Elmer gets his head back; Hook publicly shames Steg in the Mona Klingerman case, leading to Steg's suspension as a surgeon; and - as he rejects Brenda - she gets revenge on him; Antubis shows Peter and Mrs. Druse a possible future; Paul convinces Steg to end it all; and Peter brings everyone together to hold a seance, before it is too late.

  • Takes place:November 1, 2003
  • Attracted 2.4 million viewers and a 1.6/3 rating/share


On All Souls Day, with only hours until the destruction of Kingdom Hospital, the doctors, patients and staff of Kingdom come together to hold a seance where they learn the truth about the Gates Falls Mill fire, and Mary's death, and must make one last attempt to set things right; while an insane Steg wanders the halls searching for them, certain that they brought about his destruction.

  • Takes place: November 1, 2003
  • 2 hour episode
  • Attracted 3.7 million viewers and a 2.5/5 rating/share

Accompanying tracks

List of songs played during the miniseries.
Song Title Performed by Episode Extra Info
Worry About You Ivy All Episodes Theme song for the series, and heard throughout episodes.
Red Dragon Tattoo Fountains of Wayne Thy Kingdom Come (and Others) First heard while Peter is jogging.
Wee Wee Hours Chuck Berry The West Side of Midnight Heard at the start of the episode.
Where's Your Head At Basement Jaxx The Young and the Headless Played while the headless body searches for his head
Take Me Out to the Ball Game Unknown Artist ** Butterfingers Sung by many characters including Paul
Kiss Him Goodbye Steam Goodbye Kiss Sung while operating on suicidal prisoner
Gin and Juice The Gourds
Time Has Come Today The Chambers Brothers Finale Sung during beginning of finale
I Don't Know Why I Love You Ivy Hook's Kingdom Played while Dr Hook and Dr Draper talking in Hook's bedroom (kingdom)
** Originally Written by Jack Norworth in 1908



  • The series can be dated both by the timing of the World Series, the mentions of All Souls Day, and the onscreen evidence in episode 9 that it is October 26.
  • The show mentions All Souls Day, which is November 2nd, not November 1st. November 1st is All Saints Day
  • The surname of Doctor Gottreich, whose prescription was pain, has a unique meaning in High German: Kingdom of God; indicating that a descendant of the 'good' doctor may be in charge still, given the name 'Kingdom' Hospital.
  • While Peter Rickman is jogging, he is wearing a sweatshirt with "Little Tall" written on it--a place King fans are familiar with. Little Tall Island is the setting of Dolores Claiborne and Storm of the Century.
  • The character of Peter Rickman was heavily influenced by King's own experiences when he was hit by a car in a similar way in Maine in 1999.
  • Many of the characters' names, and events, are in-jokes, such as Nurse Carrie von Trier — a combination of King's best-seller Carrie and the director of Riget, Lars von Trier.
  • A recurring line in the series first comes from Lenny and is in direct reference to the "The Emperor of Ice Cream," a poem by Wallace Stevens and which was used as both an epigram and section title in King's Pet Sematary.
  • There are several references to some of King's other works, including the Dark Tower series. The drink "Nozz-A-La", which EMT Danny refers to as a "Nozzie" in one episode is a drink in the alternate reality that Roland's ka-tet comes across on their journey to the Dark Tower. However, at the end of the finale of the show, the Nozz-A-La machine has become a Pepsi machine.
  • The phrase "see it very well," which we hear Mary telling Peter near the end of the series, is a nod to the Dark Tower as well.
  • Links can also be drawn to Insomnia, when Paul tells Peter to "butt out, short-time"
  • People throughout the series are reading Stephen King books. For example, while Peter Rickman's wife sits next to him in his hospital room near the end of the series, she is reading Misery.
  • The hospital janitor, Johnny B. Goode, is constantly absent from work, and each episode sees someone different filling in for him. When we finally do see him, he is played by Stephen King.
  • The three characters in touch with the spirit world — Peter Rickman, Mary Jensen, and Paul Morlock — form the names of three saints mentioned in the Bible (St.Paul, St.Peter, and Saint Mary). Paul also mocks Eleanor Druse with a twisted version of the Hail Mary prayer, saying, "Hell Mary, full of disgrace, the Lord has abandoned you."
  • There are several references to the Bible: characters named Mary and Saul, who changes his name to Paul after a life-changing event. The near-blind guard cracks his glasses in an earthquake, but is miraculously cured and can see perfectly afterwards. One character is beaten and "crucified" but continues to bleed after his death. Miraculous things, like water from the tap turning to wine, sandwiches multiplying, and of course, a certain character returning from the dead, begin to occur after the grisly crucifixion.
  • The news presenter,who announces Peter's accident also mentions that he is from Castle Rock, a town that features heavily in some of King's other works.
  • The ambulance that brings all patients to Kingdom Hospital, starting with Peter and continuing with all the other patients of note, is Unit 19--a number which is highly influential, as many readers of The Dark Tower will recognize.
  • Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger wrote the theme tune, and during the first and final episodes, the band's 1999 hit Red Dragon Tattoo is played -for the latter, as the hospital begins to collapse.- Stephen King is a big fan of the group, and often makes references to Fountains of Wayne in his periodic pop-culture related articles in Entertainment Weekly. In December 2005, he started a list of his favorite Christmas songs with Fountains of Wayne's "I Want An Alien For Christmas." Schlesinger's other band, Ivy, perform the series' theme song.
  • The exteriors of the hospital were filmed at the Workers' Compensation Board building (now the WorkSafeBC building) in Richmond, British Columbia.
  • In the episode Seizure Day, Dr. Abelson is reading a book entitled "Make Him Want you with Witchery, Love Potions, Charms and Spells" by Barlow Straker. Mr. Barlow and Mr. Straker are two characters in Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot.
  • According to the website (Cited at the bottom) an address exists for the Hospital in Maine (warned to be the gates of Hell, where one would be greeted by the walking dead), but the zip code is for New York City. While there is no Kingdom Road in this zip code, there is an Empire Boulevard which has a #686, which appears from Googlemaps to be an apartment building. Of course, New York hasn't suffered a major earthquake for decades, and no hospitals currently exist on Empire Blvd. However, two hospitals named Kings County Hospital and Kingsbrook Med. Ctr. both are in the zip code, with the addresses of 585 and 606, which may have been the source of the address for the Hospital in the show being 686. The zip code was probably picked arbitrarily or simply because it was completely outside of the state of Maine.
  • The skylines depicted in some episodes are almost entirely made up of actual buildings in Lewiston, ME where the series takes place, only the geography has changed.
  • The altered geography aside, evidence from the show places the fictional hospital in downtown Lewiston, ME in the area of Canal St., less than a mile from Lewiston's largest hospital, Central Maine Medical Center.


External links

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