David Zabel
David Breitel Zabel

(1966-04-01) April 1, 1966 (age 55)[1]
Alma materPrinceton University (BA)
New York University (MFA)
OccupationTelevision producer, writer

David Breitel Zabel (born April 1, 1966) is an American television producer and writer. He has worked extensively on ER becoming an executive producer and the series showrunner. He has won a Humanitas Prize for his writing for ER. He is currently the showrunner/executive producer of the PBS series "Mercy Street."

Early life

Zabel was raised in New York City. He attended Princeton University, graduating in 1988, and New York University's Graduate Acting Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, graduating in 1992.[2]


Zabel began his scriptwriting career with episodes for JAG and Star Trek: Voyager. He then became the story editor for the first season of Dark Angel in 2000 while continuing to write teleplays. In 2001 Zabel joined the crew of ER as an Executive Story Editor and was promoted to Co-executive Producer later that season.[3] He was made Executive Producer part way through the tenth season and took on the role of showrunner for the eleventh season.[3] As a credited writer, Zabel contributed to over 45 scripts for ER.

Zabel and R. Scott Gemmill were awarded the Humanitas Prize in the 60 minutes category in 2007 for their script for the twelfth-season episode "There Are No Angels Here" which followed doctors from the Chicago set series performing aid work in a refugee camp in Darfur. Humanitas stated that the prize was awarded for the episodes "unflinching look at the brutality inherent in civil wars and its belief that heroism is complex, complicated and multi-layered."[4]

Zabel lead the show through the 2007 Writer's Guild of America Strike and picketed along with the rest of the writing team. Thirteen episodes were written prior to the strike and new episodes were written once the strike was resolved so Zabel was able to deliver a shortened 19 episode season.[5]

Zabel was the showrunner/executive producer of "ER" through the end of its run, after 15 seasons, in 2009. He was nominated for a second Humanitas Prize for writing the episode "Heal Thyself," which he also directed. He was the showrunner of "Detroit 1-8-7" in 2010-2011, for which he also wrote and directed numerous episodes.

In 2013, he had two pilots he wrote and produced go to series on ABC - "Lucky 7" (co-written with Jason Richman) and "Betrayal." He served as executive producer and showrunner on both shows.

In 2016, the first season of his PBS series "Mercy Street" aired. A second season for January 2017 is currently being made.


Year Show Episode Notes
1998 JAG "The Black Jet" Season 4, episode 10
1999 "Dungaree Justice" Season 4, episode 12
Star Trek: Voyager "Pathfinder" Season 6, episode 10
2000 Dark Angel "C.R.E.A.M." Season 1, episode 3
2001 "Out" Season 1, episode 8
"Red" Season 1, episode 9
"Rising" Season 1, episode 11
"Meow" Season 1, episode 19
ER "Four Corners" Season 8, episode 1
"Quo Vadis?" Season 8, episode 9
2002 "A River in Egypt" Season 8, episode 12
"Orion in the Sky" Season 8, episode 18
"Walk Like a Man" Season 9, episode 4
"Hindsight" Season 9, episode 10
2003 "A Thousand Cranes" Season 9, episode 16
"Foreign Affairs" Season 9, episode 20
"The Lost" Season 10, episode 2
"Out of Africa" Season 10, episode 5
"Missing" Season 10, episode 9
2004 "The Student" Season 10, episode 17
"Abby Normal" Season 10, episode 20
"Damaged" Season 11, episode 2
"Time of Death" Season 11, episode 6
2005 "The Providers" Season 11, episode 12
"Here and There" Season 11, episode 16
"Back in the World" Season 11, episode 17
"The Show Must Go On" Season 11, episode 22
"Man with No Name" Season 12, episode 3
"Dream House" Season 12, episode 6
2006 "If Not Now" Season 12, episode 11
"Quintessence of Dust" Season 12, episode 14
"There Are No Angels Here" Season 12, episode 20
"21 Guns" Season 12, episode 22
"Bloodline" Season 13, episode 1
"Somebody to Love" Season 13, episode 3
"Reason to Believe" Season 13, episode 8
"City of Mercy" Season 13, episode 11
2007 "Murmurs of the Heart" Season 13, episode 14
"I Don't" Season 13, episode 21
"The Honeymoon is Over" Season 13, episode 23
Keith Feature film
ER "The War Comes Home" Season 14, episode 1
"Blackout" Season 14, episode 7
"Coming Home" Season 14, episode 8
"300 Patients" Season 14, episode 10
2008 "Owner of a Broken Heart" Season 14, episode 14
"The Chicago Way" Season 14, episode 19
2010–present "Detroit 1-8-7"


  1. ^ https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KJFQ-7FP
  2. ^ "NYU Graduate Acting Alumni". 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
  3. ^ a b "Biographies - Executive Producer David Zabel". NBC. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
  4. ^ "33rd Humanitas Prize Winners Announced" (PDF). Humanitas. 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-12.[dead link]
  5. ^ Fred Topel (2007). "David Zabel on Writers Strike". CanMag. Retrieved 2008-05-12.