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Revisit Dr. Dean Archer's History on Chicago Med Including His Kidney Transplant

Gaffney's E.D. chief received a life-changing procedure so he can continue practicing medicine on the show.

By Jessica White & Megan Lasher


How to Watch

Watch the Season 10 premiere of Chicago Med on Wednesday, September 25 at 8/7c on NBC

Chicago Med's Dr, Dean Archer (Steven Weber) is a no-nonsense physician who has often butted heads with his colleagues at the Gaffney Chicago Medical Center. He joined the cast in Season 6 and, since then, has been the center of plenty of drama — including the reveal of his estranged son and his life-threatening medical condition. 

Revisit Dr. Archer's entire storyline leading up to his life-saving operation Season 9, from his blunt-spoken ways to his relationships with his once-estranged son and his ex-wife... and why the renewal of the former relationship saved his life.

Who is Dr. Dean Archer on Chicago Med?

When he joined the team in Season 6, Dr. Archer was a bit of a snark-filled mystery to fans and physicians alike.

His first major storyline came in Season 6, Episode 9 ("For the Want Of A Nail"), when he spotted Doctors Natalie Manning (Torrey DeVitto) and Crockett Marcel (Dominic Rains) having an intimate moment and then accused them of letting their relationship interfere with work. (He had been working with Dr. Manning on a case and, when she questioned his assessment, she went to Dr. Marcel behind Dr. Archer's back.)

RELATED: Brian Tee and Steven Weber Reveal Why It's Great Fans Hate Archer on Chicago Med

This incident cemented Dr. Archer as a character who would cause some frustration for his coworkers, as he was not willing to just let things fly.

A similar pattern arose when he questioned Dr. Daniel Charles (Oliver Platt) for not putting a patient in a psych hold, as the patient later returned to the hospital and opened fire on him and Dr. Ethan Choi (Brian Tee). Choi and Archer, it turned out, had served together in the Navy.

Dr. Dean Archer (Steven Weber) appears in Season 9 Episode 1 of Chicago Med

Who is Dr. Dean Archer's son Sean on Chicago Med?

In Season 8, Episode 1 ("How Do You Begin to Count the Losses"), it was revealed to viewers that Dr. Archer had a son, Sean, after Sean called his dad from the Cook County Jail. Dr. Archer then visited his son in prison in Episode 2 ("Caught Between a Wrecking Ball and The Butterfly") and it quickly became clear that Sean struggled with drug addiction. 

RELATED: Dr. Archer's Estranged Son Just Became His Patient on Chicago Med

In Episode 7 ("The Clothes Make the Man...or Do They?"), Sean was admitted to Gaffney after he was stabbed in the neck by a fellow inmate. Dr. Archer revealed to Dr. Choi — and later to other coworkers — that Sean was his son, and that he had been ashamed of what he considered to be his own failure as a parent.

In Season 8, Episode 11 ("It Is What It Is Until It Isn't"), Sean was released from jail, giving Dr. Archer another chance to show up for his son and help get his life back on track. Their reconciliation eventually led to Sean's willingness to help his father during a health crisis. (More on that below.)

Before the premiere of Season 9, Weber talked more about the father-son dynamic.

“These two characters in particular are really trying to find themselves after having been both troubled for many years,” Weber told NBC Insider“Sean’s been in and out of prison and is currently in drug rehab. And his father, Dean, has been trying to find his humanity after being saddled with PTSD, and he’s trying not to be dependent on a world which he needs. So yeah, that’s going to be tough. Everybody has to find a way around this particular situation.”

Sean Archer (Luigi Sottile) appears in Chicago Med.

Why did Dr. Dean Archer need a kidney transplant?

Dr. Archer revealed that he was battling end-stage renal failure in Chicago Med Season 8.

He first opened up to Dr. Hannah Asher (Jessy Schram) — his closest friend at the hospital — about his medical status, and in Season 8, Episode 16 ("What You See Isn't Always What You Get"), he collapsed and was told he needed immediate care.

RELATED: Is Dr. Archer Going to Be OK on Chicago Med?

In an effort to help Archer get a necessary kidney transplant, Hannah told Archer's estranged son, Sean Archer (Luigi Sottile), about the diagnosis but, in Episode 19 ("Look Closely and You Might Hear the Truth"), Archer scolded her for doing so. 

Hannah's decision was nonetheless helpful, as it later was confirmed that Sean was a donor match and could donate his kidney to his father. However, Sean subsequently relapsed, putting any potential organ donation on hold for at least six months.

RELATED: Steven Weber Says Dr. Archer Is “Dying” As He Waits for “Dangerous” Kidney Donation on Chicago Med

“Sean is eager to donate a kidney to his father Dean, who’s really sort of dying from kidney disease,” Weber told NBC Insider ahead of the Season 9 premiere. “But the fact that he’s had a relapse, it makes that donation improbable, dangerous — not just physically, but psychologically and emotionally.”

Dr. Hannah Asher and Dr. Dean Archer talk on a hospital bed in Chicago Med Episode 902.

Who is Dr. Dean Archer's ex-wife, Leanne, on Chicago Med?

The transplant hit another road bump in Season 9, Episode 2 ("This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us") when became apparent that Archer wasn't on good terms with his ex-wife and Sean's mother, Leanne (Paula Marshall). Leanne suddenly showed up at the hospital infuriated over Sean's decision to move forward with the transplant. (In her defense, Sean had only told her about it the day before.) 

Ultimately, she withdrew her objections and, when father and son woke up after a successful transplant, Archer wanted to thank his ex-wife for her approval. Leanne, however, was already heading out the door. 

Leanne stands in a black coat in Chicago Med Episode 902.

Did Dr. Dean Archer get a kidney transplant in Chicago Med Season 9?

Archer received a new kidney in Season 9, Episode 2 ("This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us").

During the six months between the Season 8 finale and Season 9, Episode 1 ("Row Row Row Your Boat on a Rocky Sea"), Sean had stuck to sobriety — but Archer looked terrible and was swirling with doubts about what he was asking of his son, given that he felt he hadn't been a good father.

Later in that episode, Archer learned that a 13-year-old patient also needed a kidney, prompting him to question if Sean would be a match for the teen. 

Hannah wasn't having any of Archer's nonsense: After learning Asher was considering not accepting the transplant, she visited him and chastised him for even considering allowing his son to give his kidney to a stranger. 

Hannah was able to comfort Archer through his complicated emotions, encouraging him to go forward with the operation as scheduled. Archer agreed, but it's clear his relationship with his son was still top of mind.

Archer's insecurities over fatherhood were far from the only obstacle he faced ahead of the transplant : He was also forced to face the objections of his angry ex-wife, Leanne, in Season 9, Episode 2. 

The problem was that, by the time Leanne arrived to object to her son's surgery, Sean's kidney had already been removed for the transplant and Archer was about to be wheeled into the operating room to receive it. Not willing to infuriate Sean's mother, Archer refused to move forward without her approval. With just a few hours before the kidney would need to go back into Sean, Archer attempted to plead with Leanne with no success. 

Emergency Department nurse Maggie Campbell (Marlyne Barrett) was ultimately able to help Leanne realize that she was more angry about the failed marriage than the transplant, and obtained her blessing for the procedure. The surgery went off without a hitch for either father or son.

Dr. Dean Archer talks to Sean Archer in a hospital bed in Chicago Med Episode 902.

 Dr. Dean Archer's Military Past

Steven Weber As Dr Dean Archer and Brian Tree As Ethan Choi in Chicago Med

As his time in the hospital went on, much more about Dr. Archer's past was revealed, giving some answers to viewers concerned about his harsh attitude towards patients and fellow doctors alike.

In Season 6, Episode 12 ("Some Things Are Worth the Risk") it was revealed that Archer was still experiencing PTSD from his time in the Navy. However, his own ongoing experience with mental health issues did not necessarily soften his attitude toward patients in the ED with mental health concerns.

Watch all-new episodes of Chicago Med on Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC, or stream them the next day on Peacock.

Originally published Jan 16, 2024.