There have been other medical dramas that have enjoyed huge success with television audiences over the years, with some spawning the careers of some of the biggest names in Hollywood. George Clooney may be considered one of Hollywood’s biggest A-listers, but he was once best known for his role as Doug Ross from the medical drama ER. When people understand that medical dramas can certainly be a huge hit for the fans, it’s no surprise that writers and showrunners want to recreate that magic on the small screen. When the first season of Grey’s Anatomy premiered in 2005, no one could predict how successful the series would be. Creator Shonda Rhimes is credited for bringing the characters and plot to life,
Grey’s Anatomy started off with a number of characters that audiences could really resonate with, and there were some roles that sparked a great deal of fascination that resulted in a number of different nicknames. From “McDreamy” to “McSteamy,” every fan of the series seemed to have their own favorite characters. However, the story has moved on and lost all-new characters as well as some of the beloved characters from the series. Whether you call yourself a Grey’s Anatomy expert or just love a bit of behind-the-scenes knowledge, check out our list of the 20 Things you didn’t Know about Grey’s Anatomy and catch up on the fun facts about this hit streak
20) The conscious effort not to be like Him
As the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, it’s only natural that she would want to place the series in her own hometown. Shonda Rhimes knew a lot about the Midwest, more precisely Chicago, since it was her hometown. However, there was already another medical show that was based in Chicago. There would inevitably be a lot of comparisons to the previous hit medical series, ER, and no further help was needed to be compared to this other show. So there was a deliberate effort to differentiate Grey’s Anatomy from ER, and part of that was deviating from their initial inclination to start the show out of Chicago. She eventually decided to move the series from Seattle to the fictional Gray-Sloan Memorial Hospital.
19) Most characters didn’t start with descriptions
When Shonda Rhimes created the Grey’s Anatomy series, she had no character descriptions for most of the roles. While other shows already have a description of the characters in mind, Rhimes didn’t have a description of the characters for anyone but Miranda Bailey. But even this character has only been described as a “little blonde with curls”. This offered tremendous freedom for aspiring characters and was a tremendous benefit for actors who wanted to play a role in a successful networking series. Typically, characters have a description that tells the actors what roles might be open to them for future auditions. However, this was not the case with Grey’s Anatomy. This is also a reminder that the series could have been completely different,
18) Auditioned many actors for different roles
It’s not uncommon for actors to audition for certain roles but then be cast for a completely different role. Still, it’s really interesting to learn more about the different casting options for Grey’s Anatomy. Though Miranda Bailey’s character was supposed to be “a little curly blonde,” Chandra Wilson won over Shonda Rhimes during the audition process and secured the role for her. Sandra Oh was supposed to audition for the role of Bailey but convinced the show runners that she should audition for Cristina Yang. Ellen Pompeo wasn’t even supposed to audition for Grey’s Anatomy and was actually trying to get a spot on an entirely different series, Secret Service. The most interesting casting choice, however, came when Isaiah Washington was originally cast for the role of Dr.
17) Kate Walsh made her own fortune
While women have made great strides in Hollywood in recent years, there is still a small difference in the way Hollywood managers treat actresses. They are often paid less than their male counterparts, and there aren’t many female roles available to actresses. However, there are some actresses who don’t just sit back and brood over opportunities that the entertainment industry doesn’t offer them. Kate Walsh starred in Grey’s Anatomy that wasn’t originally intended to be a full-time character. Still, she stood the test of time on set, and the chemistry she had with the rest of the cast led to her getting a full-time role. Her character’s success on Grey’s Anatomy eventually led to
16) Chyler Leigh is not a genius
Often times, medical dramas are the most difficult for actors to experience because they are forced to learn lines that contain complicated medical terms. This also applies to their demeanor, as the actors have to exude a certain personality that really sells their status as medical professionals to the audience. In the case of Grey’s anatomy character Lexie Gray, the actress who portrayed her really had to sell the idea that she graduated from Harvard Medical School. It says something about Chyler Leigh that she was able to portray a Harvard Medical School graduate in terms of her acting skills because she was far from being considered an academic. In fact, Leigh dropped out of high school and never received any further education.
15) Pregnancy in real life changed the plot
There are times when the real-life events of an actor or actress can create a problem for a show’s writers. When an actress becomes pregnant it can be a difficult situation for writers, and everyone deals with it in their own way. In Mad Men’s case, January Jones’s pregnancy led to an act on the series in which her character gained tremendous weight. In Scandal’s case, Kerry Washington’s pregnancy resulted in a series of layered ensembles and strategically placed vases and furniture to hide her growing belly. For Ellen Pompeo in Grey’s Anatomy season six, the writers implemented a new storyline in which her character made the decision to donate part of her liver to her estranged father.
14) Sandra Oh wanted to break down
As a researcher, senior physician, and head of cardiothoracic surgery, Sandra Oh’s character, Cristina Yang, has held together in the most professional manner possible in Grey’s Anatomy history. She wasn’t exactly devoid of personality, but seeing her in a bubbly and personable light wouldn’t exactly help her industry showcase her true acting skills. However, that didn’t stop Sandra Oh from influencing Shonda Rhimes and giving her some really dramatic scenes. In the episode where Oh’s character loses their unborn baby, it was actually Oh’s idea for her character to experience an emotional breakdown. This led Rhimes to write the scene where Oh’s character couldn’t stop crying in her hospital bed.
13) Television managers had to be convinced by the musical episode
TV managers are not known for giving writers full freedom for any particular scene or episode. From Seinfeld’s difficulty in convincing the network’s executives that a show about nothing would be a hit with audiences, to Frasier’s efforts to sell an episode in which the main character never got out of bed, it seems like a range to give examples in which people have to be convinced in order to get a certain act, to get airtime. Such was definitely the case for the musical episode where Callie was seen singing about her own dead body. Death and musicals aren’t usually a good mix, but it definitely worked for Grey’s Anatomy.
12) Jesse Williams wasn’t a fighting actor
Often times, actors trying to get into the business are forced to take jobs that are just enough to pay the bills. Hollywood is filled with actors and actresses who have been forced to wait at the tables before their big break, and there are even some A-list actors who have had some seriously embarrassing jobs. However, this was not the case for the actor who played Dr. Jackson played Avery in Grey’s Anatomy. Born into a family of academics, Jesse Williams followed in his parents’ footsteps after graduating with a double major from Temple University. Williams focused on African American studies and film and media arts, and later became a high school teacher before taking on his role on Grey’s Anatomy.
11) Real organs on the show
There are a number of shows and films out there that take a serious toll on the prop department to create truly lifelike items that are vital to the plot. The Game of Thrones props department had to build a giant gummy bear in the shape of a heart for the scene where Daenerys Targaryen had to eat a heart during a Dothraki ritual. However, this is not the case with Grey’s Anatomy. As a medical drama, it’s obvious that Grey’s Anatomy would need to have some really realistic-looking organs while intricate surgeries are being performed on the show. However, it doesn’t require the props department for the show to go beyond the essentials to create these realistic organs.
10) Several shots for the grain scene
Actors are often forced to make multiple adjustments when delivering lines and acting out scenes. There are times when this isn’t really that bad as there may be some weird moments with the actors or even some steamy scenes that really aren’t hard work for everyone involved. However, there are also times when multiple settings are tough work for an actor. In the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio had to eat sushi during the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, DiCaprio actually got severely ill after eating so much raw fish. During the scene in Grey’s Anatomy where Sandra Oh’s character found out that Dr. Owen Hunt had cheated on her, she had to throw a bowl of cereal in his face. It took three takes
9) Life Imitates Art with Sarah Drew
Pregnancy can be a tricky business for an actress, be it real or fictional. For real pregnancy, the writers often have to laboriously try to bring it into the plot, hide it with props and other actors, or create a completely different plot to circumvent the actress’ condition. However, there are also difficulties with fictional pregnancies, as the actress has to embrace this growing condition in a way that is truly believable. Viewers are often upset when they see “pregnant” characters who don’t actually appear pregnant, beyond an obviously prosthetic baby bump. However, with Grey’s Anatomy figure April Kepner, the props department didn’t have much to do when her figure became pregnant.
8) Jesse Williams received a humanitarian award
At all awards shows, there always seems to be a recipient who steals the show with his acceptance speech. At the 2016 BET Awards, it was actor Jesse Williams who managed to get all the attention for his words when he accepted the Humanitarian Award. Williams is perhaps best known for his Grey’s Anatomy character, Dr. Jackson Avery, but he also has a college degree with a major in African American Studies and Film and Media Arts. His five-minute speech was about equality and fighting with the police, and the crowd received great applause. Part of the speech included, “We have been running this land on credit for centuries, and we are done watching and waiting while this invention called wisdom uses and abuses us and hides black people from sight and mind while we extract our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil, black gold.”
7) Application for the dismissal of Jesse Williams
Not everyone welcomed the acceptance speech Jesse Williams gave at the Humanitarian Award ceremony at the 2016 BET Awards. There have been some who have suggested that Williams used his half-black and half-white backgrounds to make racist remarks without repercussions. A person named Erin Smith started a petition on change.org to fire Williams from Grey’s Anatomy series. In the petition, Smith stated, “Jesse Williams uttered racist hate speech against law enforcement and whites at the BET Awards.” The statement went on, “If this were a white person giving the same speech about an African American, they would have been fired and globally punished as they should be, but there was no consequence to Williams’ actions.”
6) Isaiah Washington used homophobic bows during combat
Not all performers can boast excellent inter-actor chemistry, and this was proven on the set of Grey’s Anatomy. There have been numerous rumors of fights between the actors, and one of them made big headlines. There was reportedly a fight between actors Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey. During the argument, Washington grabbed the other actor and said, “I’m not your little fagot like TR [Knight].” Although Knight was not originally named in the reports, rumors of the altercation began to spread, forcing Knight to make his own testimony. During an interview with People Magazine, Knight published a statement that read, “Although I prefer
5) Washington was not released immediately
When the reports of Isaiah Washington came out with a homophobic arc, the aftermath of the incident seemed to aggravate the event. It forced Knight to make a public statement to People magazine identifying him as a homosexual man. It also prompted a number of influential people to demand the dismissal of Washington. However, in the immediate aftermath of the rumor of the altercation with Washington, no action was taken. Washington’s publicist issued a statement after the fight that said, “Differences are inevitable. They have been broadcast, resolved, and everyone has moved on.” Patrick Dempsey’s publicist also released a statement stating, “There was an argument on the set. In any close family, sometimes people quarrel.
4) Washington sacked due to increased pressure
After rumors of the Patrick Dempsey-Isaiah Washington fight began circulating, some were surprised by the fact that Washington was not immediately fired. He continued to return to the set, which TR Knight (whom he labeled a homophobic slur and who publicly referred to as a homosexual man) found extremely uncomfortable. The media firestorm persisted and numerous people demanded the dismissal of Washington. When it turned out that the situation was not going to simply end, Washington was told that he would not be returning for the next season and that he had lost his job. It became even more apparent that Shonda Rhimes wouldn’t let him go after she announced that he would be returning to the series.
3) Katherine Heigl withdraws the name from Emmys
There are some awards for an actress that is so highly valued that even the nomination is a great honor. For television actors, the Emmy Awards are an important event and it is a great triumph to be considered for this prestigious award. But not everyone knows how to deal with their successes, and that is exactly the case with Katherine Hail. The actress was brought to the fore when she was featured in Grey’s Anatomy, which resulted in a number of film roles that made her one of Hollywood’s most popular new leading actresses. All of that changed, however, when she withdrew her name from the Emmy voting in 2008. She explained, “I didn’t feel like I was given the material this season, to justify an Emmy nomination, and to uphold the integrity of the Emmy Academy organization, I withdrew my name from the dispute.”
2) Patrick Dempsey was killed
One of the main attractions of the Grey’s Anatomy franchise was the character Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd. Patrick Dempsey’s character was a huge fan favorite, but that didn’t mean he was a huge favorite with the cast, crew, and show runners. There have been numerous reports of his conduct as a diva on the set, and many still blamed him for getting Isaiah Washington fired from the show. While the focus of media coverage was on Washington’s use of a homophobic bow, the simple truth was that the real battle was taking place between Washington and Dempsey. This wasn’t the first time Dempsey had rumors that he was difficult to work with. There was also an interview in which Dempsey appeared to be criticizing the character and the show by saying it’s just a “paycheck”. His character was ultimately killed, which came as a huge shock to the fans. There have been conflicting reports as to whether he was fired for his behavior and comments, or whether he wanted to quit the show. Regardless, it was the biggest shock to this hit medical drama.