The TV series that won the Golden Globe Award for best television series in 2007 is none other than the famous American medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy. From when the series premiered on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in 2005, it has so far cast 14 seasons and plans for casting the fifteenth are ongoing. This series is not only loved by many in America and beyond, but it is also praised for how it depicts real-life struggles without over or under-emphasizing any. It is simply irresistible to watch and hard to hate.
Created by Shonda Rhimes, the show has been rated the longest-running scripted primetime show on ABC so far. In 2007, it was also rated the highest revenue earning show on television in terms of advertisements. It’s original lead cast — Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, and Sandra Oh, were rated among the top five, highest earning television actors in 2013. Clearly, this series has been a big deal in the world of television, but there are many facts about it that most people are unaware of. Take a look.
10. Patrick Dempsey Did Not Leave on His Own Free Will
The death of Derek ‘McDreamy’ Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy’s season 11, episode 21, came as an utter surprise to the many who loved him and the pivotal role he played in the drama of the series. He was cast as the lover of Meredith Grey, even while he was married to Addison Montgomery Shepherd. For this reason, it came as a surprise when he exited the show after the final episode of season 11, yet his contract was only a year shy from elapsing.
It is said that he had been having an affair with one of the cast members and Shonda Rhimes did not tolerate such controversy at any cost and decided to cut him loose. Therefore, a scene was written where Derek died in a road accident, bringing to an end to his time in the series. In real life, Patrick has been married to Jillian Fink for fifteen years and they have three children together. However, at the time, his affair came to the limelight, he and his wife were having marital issues and even sought for temporary separation. The couple has since officially divorced.
9. Ellen Pompeo Negotiated her Own $20 Million Paycheck
We can all peacefully agree that Grey’s Anatomy revolves around Meredith Grey. She is actually more than just the backbone for the series, but the unifying factor for all the actors in the show. The title of the show has nothing to do with her though because it was originally inspired by a book written by Henry Gray and published in 1858, called Gray’s Anatomy. For the fourteen years that the series has aired, it has earned about $3 Billion for Disney.
For this reason and also for the fact that Patrick Dempsey left the show in 2015, Ellen has seen the need to have her pay raised for starring the longest. She argues that having been committed to Shondaland, this has had a negative impact on her creativity and her ability to explore other acting roles due to contractual obligations. She says other male actors earn as high as $600,000 per episode, yet they all put in the same efforts and commitment. Her fight resulted in her pay rise to $575,000 per episode and two full backend equity points for the series, amounting to about $5 Million in 2017. This was termed an audacious move since Rhimes is known to be a no-nonsense producer.
8. Katherine Heigl Criticized Her Role in Grey’s Anatomy
Izzie Stevens was portrayed as the perfect mix of beauty and brains in the series and has won a bunch of awards and accolades such as the People’s Choice Award for most dramatic TV actress in 2010 and Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series in 2007. Arguably, Katherine has received the fairest share of positive and negative publicity over the years.
Katherine has been recently announced the actor who will replace Meghan Markle in Suits, a role which will maintain Katherine’s popularity longer. However, Katherine Heigl has been called a diva because she has been termed difficult to work with. In 2008, she pulled her name out of the Emmy Awards nominations saying she didn’t feel that the role of Izzy Stevens had given her enough material to warrant her nomination. This has sent bad blood dripping between her and the Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes. The production team then worked in a way to have her exit the series, which took two years to finalize.
7. Justin Chambers Was Added to the Pilot Cast
Alex Karev is the jerk in Grey’s Anatomy who is rude to both his colleagues and patients. His know-it-all attitude earns him punishment from his attending surgeons while he was an intern, then he later becomes Chief of Paediatric Surgery. He got into a romantic relationship with Izzie Stevens who later died. He then married Jo Wilson in the twelfth season. Imagining Grey’s Anatomy without such drama is hard, but believe it or not, Karev was not in the original cast.
After the first few pilot episodes had been shot, Rhimes felt the need to add another character who’s different from all the rest. Justin then auditioned and was added to the scenes using computer-generated imagery (CGI) technology. When asked to comment about this, he said that this move by Rhimes was timely because he had done a pilot for ABC called Secret Service but it wasn’t picked up. This digital insertion of Karev was ultimately a success.
6. Isaiah Washington was Fired for Giving Homophobic Statements
For his demeanor, professionalism, and mastery of jargons on set, many think that Preston Burke is a real surgeon. He has actually won many awards for this reason, such as the Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performances by an ensemble in a drama series in 2007 and the Satellite Award for the best cast television series in 2006. However, his popularity took a negative trajectory when he gave a rather homophobic statement while arguing with Patrick Dempsey of the scene.
TR Knight who is cast as George O’Malley then felt that the statement was directed at him, even though he had not yet come out as being gay at the time. Katherine Heigl joined Knight in protesting such statements against the gay community and Isaiah later apologized saying he could neither defend nor explain his behavior during the fight with Patrick. Nonetheless, Shonda didn’t keep him for long in the series after this incident.
5. Kate Walsh was Originally Contracted Only for a Few Episodes
Addison Montgomery Shepherd was introduced in the last episode of the first season as Derek’s wife. Needless to say, she accelerated the drama in many ways, including her affair with Mark ‘McSteamy’ Sloan. When the series premiered, Patrick Dempsey didn’t know his character Derek was married, and neither did Addison know that she would be incorporated into the series at the time. Rhimes later explained that she chose to have Derek married to spice up the show, which eventually worked.
However, Walsh was only contracted for a short while in season two, but when the production team saw Addison having integrated well with the other characters in the series, producers chose to extend her contract. The Addison character was cast till season three and all the while Kate Walsh outdid herself. The production team decided to give Kate a spinoff of her own and Rhimes created Private Practice. Kate is the star of the series that debuted in 2007 and has gone six seasons.
4. Chyler Leigh Stayed Under the Plane Wreckage for Nearly Two Days
Alexandra Caroline Lexie Grey was Meredith’s half-sister, thus her nickname Little Grey. You could say her feelings are on the loose because she falls in love with Alex Karev, George O’Malley, Jackson Avery and Mark Sloan. For this reason and for the fact that she develops post-traumatic stress disorder, she brings in a fresh tone, taste, and angle of drama to the series that eventually ends when she dies in season nine together with Mark Sloan.
In the episode, she died after a plane crash that had been flying them to Boise, Idaho, to perform separation surgery on conjoined twins. While shooting the scene of her death in the plane crash, Chyler had to stay under the wreckage of a plane for long periods as they tried to perfect the scene. This episode was done in Big Bear, California, which Cher later said was cold and chilly. However, she said that because the production team was accommodating, she agreed to stay there for nearly two days continuously, which was a pretty long time.
3. Chandra Wilson’s Character Was the Only one with a Physical Description
It is so hard imagining Dr. Miranda Bailey being anyone other than Chandra. So short, but so stubborn, so strict, but yet so motherly. One could easily term her as an icy woman because of her brutal statements and her staunch discipline. She adds a touch of seriousness and laughter combined to the series. She works her way up from being a resident surgeon to being Chief of Surgery at Mark Sloan Memorial Hospital. Surprisingly, this was the only actor whose physical description Rhimes had in mind at the start of auditioning for actors.
Shonda Rhimes pictured Miranda Bailey character as a short blonde woman with hair curls. This is partly because it reflects her mother and also partly because she thought it would be interesting for a short woman to say tough things to all the characters in the drama. Of course, it didn’t end up being a blonde woman, but rather an African American actress who fit into the shoes of Miranda just right.
2. Sarah Drew was Expectant at the Same Time as Her Character
Well, the first thing that probably resonates in anyone’s mind in light of this character is her staunch faith and status of virginity. This surgical resident from Mercy West Hospital is not everyone’s favorite though and has had her fair share of medical malpractice errors. Having fallen in love with Alex Karev, Jackson Avery, and Matthew the paramedic, she exits the series in season 14 where she is finally married to Matthew.
Sarah Drew and Peter Lanfer were expecting their second child during the time of season 10 shooting. When she delivered in 2014, they named her Hannah Mali Rose. April Kepner, on the other hand, was expecting Jackson Avery’s child, but the child was diagnosed with a brittle bone condition called osteogenesis imperfecta. It was established that the child wouldn’t survive for long even after being born and so the child had to be terminated. April and Avery argued about this and they finally agree to deliver Samuel Norbert, who dies later. April, however, delivered Samuel before Hannah and it is said that the vigorous shooting of the delivery is what caused her to deliver three and a half weeks before her due date.
1. The Episode Titles are Named After Real Songs
The Grey’s Anatomy production crew seem to have a thing for songs. Probably this has something to do with Shonda Rhimes background and upbringing. Nobody Knows is the hallmark song of Grey’s Anatomy and has been taken up by so many other musicians for covers. To add salt to the injury, each and every single episode is named from a specific song that provides the theme for the episode. Isn’t that interesting and unique?
Season one episode, one introduced the surgical interns at Seattle Grace Hospital and their tough journey ahead. It was thus called A Hard Day’s Night after the song by the Beatles in 1964. Michael Jackson’s song Thriller was used as the theme of season ten, episode seven. The song was released in 1982 and symbolized the horror underwent in Seattle Grace Hospital. Similarly, season seven, episode twenty-one showed Meredith Grey’s challenges in her workplace and personal issues and was dubbed I Will Survive, the Gloria Gaynor song from 1978.