How Grey’s Anatomy Cast Changed Since the Series Release

7 months ago

Sometimes, unconsciously, we find ourselves returning to memories and recollections from the past that have marked a significant part of our lives. Many recall that time by their favorite songs, movies, or series. But the years beat the time, and believe it or not, it has been almost two decades since one of the greatest medical hits came to the screen.

For many fans, Grey’s Anatomy cast was the initial spark and first love for medicine. Let’s see which actors defined this wonderful era and where they are today. Warning, the article has spoilers!

1. Meredith Grey

Meredith Grey, who began her career as an intern at Seattle Grace Hospital and ended up being Chief of General Surgery, was the primary character in this story. Her life has been a roller coaster, with friends and afterward, her husband dying, surviving a plane collapse, even facing being dismissed for insurance fraud, and performing community service before returning to work.

Ellen Pompeo, the delightful actress who displayed Meredith on the screens, considered departing in 2018 to spend more time with her three children. She poured her heart and all of herself into the show, giving it everything she had, and she hinted at sticking around longer due to the series’ impact and popularity. Later in Season 19, she played a less significant role, appearing in just eight episodes as a result of her choice to leave Seattle and go to Boston with her children.

Despite this, she continued to tell the majority of the narrative. Aside from Grey’s Anatomy, Pompeo will appear in and produce a new Hulu series with similarities to the 2009 film Orphan. She has been married to Chris Ivery since 2007, and the couple has three children: Stella Luna, 14, Sienna May, 9, and Eli Christopher, 6.

2. Miranda Bailey

Miranda Bailey, portrayed by Chandra Wilson, was first introduced as a strict person in the series in order to highlight her no-nonsense personality. Behind her gruff face, she cared deeply about her interns and worked tirelessly to help them succeed. She still won’t put up with foolishness as Chief of Surgery. Miranda became one of the more steady characters throughout the show despite her challenges.

She dismissed Richard, Alex and Meredith in Season 15 due to an insurance fraud issue, although they eventually returned to work for her. She is still in charge of keeping everyone in line.

Chandra Wilson, who was nominated for four Emmys during her time on Grey’s Anatomy, has also starred in films such as A Single Woman (2008), Frankie & Alice (2010), and Christmas Harmony (2018). Additionally, she made a guest appearance on General Hospital in 2019.

3. Derek Shepherd

Dr. McDreamy, also known as Derek Shepherd, was introduced in Season 1 following a rumored one-night affair with Meredith Grey. Their courtship grew into a famous television romance. Tragically, Derek was engaged in a horrific automobile accident while assisting crash victims. The devastating episode highlighted his fight for adequate medical treatment, culminating in his heartbreaking death, a decision justified by creator Shonda Rhimes in order to maintain the honesty of Meredith and Derek’s love.

Patrick Dempsey, the man behind McDreamy, expressed gratitude for Grey’s Anatomy but admitted there was a price to pay. Dempsey said that his departure could have been delayed due to a desire for control over his schedule. Despite his departure, fans were excited to see McDreamy in Season 17. Dempsey took on new projects such as the Italian series Devils and the Disney+ film Disenchanted, in addition to appearances in Bridget Jones’s Baby and Ferrari.

Since 1999, Patrick has been married to makeup artist Jillian Dempsey, with whom he shares three children: Talula, Darby, and Sullivan. His post-Grey’s journey included a variety of film and television projects, ushering in a new chapter in his illustrious career. What many fans liked is the fact that McDreamy was named the “Sexiest Man Alive” earlier this year.

4. Richard Webber

Having worked with Meredith’s mother, Ellis Grey, in the past, Richard Webber, the former Chief of Surgery, made his debut on the first episode of the show and recognized her brilliance right away. His character was portrayed by James Pickens Jr.

Despite his unwavering demeanor, Richard went through the same rollercoaster of struggles as the show’s characters. He lost his wife and lost his job due to insurance fraud with Meredith. Dr. Webber has shifted from being the Chief of Surgery to leading the hospital’s Residency Program, a fitting role for a character who has mentored numerous others on the show.

In addition to his dedication to Grey’s Anatomy, James Pickens Jr. graced other shows like The X-Files, Roseanne, Yellowstone, and The Conners. He remained a consistent presence throughout Grey’s Anatomy and its spin-offs. He married musician Gina Taylor in 1984, and the two of them navigated life’s highs and lows on and off the screen with their two kids.

5. Alex Karev

In the opening scene of the show, Justin Chambers played Alex Karev, the arrogant intern who foolishly thought Meredith was a nurse. He worked on his character for more than 15 years, addressing his shortcomings until he said goodbye to his wife, friends, and career to move to Kansas and reunite with Izzie and their twins who were born from frozen embryos.

Departing in 2020, Justin Chambers acknowledged the difficulty of bidding farewell to a pivotal period in his life, indicated his desire to investigate various acting jobs at the age of fifty, and offered gratitude to his devoted wife and five children. Expressing gratitude to the ABC family, Shonda Rimes, and the amazing cast and crew, he proceeded to play Marlon Brando in Paramount+’s The Offer in 2022.

6. Owen Hunt

As a talented surgeon suffering from PTSD following his time spent in Iraq, Owen Hunt made a big impression on Grey’s Anatomy during Season 5. As one of the series’ most enduring characters, Hunt’s journey through emotional relationships—including marriages to Cristina and Amelia—and, in the end, a long-term bond and marriage to Teddy Altman in Season 18 were all seen by viewers.

Kevin McKidd experimented with several film projects after leaving Grey’s Anatomy, including Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Home Sweet Hell, and Tulip Fever. In addition, he provided the voice of Fenn Rau in Star Wars: Rebels and animated characters in Brave and the ABC special Toy Story That Time Forgot. In addition to his acting career, McKidd directed more than 30 Grey’s Anatomy episodes.

McKidd went through a number of adjustments in his personal life. After an 18-year marriage ended in 2017, he and his ex-wife, Jane Parker, have two children, Iona and Joseph. He married Arielle Goldrath in 2018, and they have a daughter named Nava and a son named Aiden. But only five months after McKidd announced their breakup on Instagram, Goldrath filed for divorce in December 2022. In the midst of his career success, McKidd managed the difficulties of relationships and family life.

7. Cristina Yang

Cristina Yang, the determined and brilliant intern who shared an unbreakable bond with Meredith, left Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital for the Klausman Institute for Medical Research in Switzerland after another round of hospital renaming. Her presence persisted through letters, emails, and phone calls, even though she was acknowledged in later episodes. As a part of the Grey’s Anatomy cast, she surely contributed to the show’s popularity.

After leaving the show in 2014, Sandra Oh told The Hollywood Reporter that she would be willing to come back for the climax of the season if the plot worked out. After leaving Grey’s Anatomy, Oh maintained her popularity on television. She won a second Golden Globe for her role in the BBC series Killing Eve, which was one of her highlights.

She has provided the voice of several animated movies, including Over the Moon (2020), Raya and the Last Dragon (2021), and Turning Red (2022), diversifying her repertoire across various roles since bidding adieu to the medical drama.

8. George O’Malley

George O’Malley, who gained the nickname007” for his surgical accuracy and was well-known for being the first intern to attempt an appendectomy, had a kind and energetic personality as well as a strong bond with Meredith. His tragic death, in which he died while saving a woman from a bus, had a profound effect on Grey’s Anatomy fans.

In a 2009 interview with Entertainment Weekly, T.R. Knight—a 2007 Emmy nominee—left the show after five seasons, claiming issues with screen time, the plot of his character, and a breakdown in communication with Rhimes. Casting doubt on the details given about George’s arc, Knight made a surprising comeback in an episode airing in December 2020.

He performed in a number of TV series after Grey’s, including The Good Wife, 11.22.63, The Catch, When We Rise, Genius: Einstein and Genius: Picasso. Knight also appeared in HBO Max’s first and second seasons of The Flight Attendant. Beyond the drama of the hospital hallways, Knight has been blissfully married to ballet dancer Patrick B. Leahy since 2013. They manage to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

9. Izzie Stevens

When she first started working on Grey’s Anatomy, Izzie Stevens was a sweet intern who rose above her modest trailer park upbringing to become a medical school model. Her kind disposition and passion for baking contrasted sharply with Meredith and Cristina’s darker selves. Izzie went to a tremendous extent for patient Denny Duquette’s heart transplant and struggled with his passing during her turbulent plot.

Her struggles included a brief marriage to Alex and romantic pursuits, as well as a brain tumor that caused her to experience hallucinations of Denny’s spirit. After the hospital merger, her time at Seattle Grace came to an end, and Alex ultimately pushed for her to leave. Izzie was mentioned as Alex’s reason for leaving the hospital, even though she wasn’t visible after she left.

The changes in Katherine Heigl’s character’s journey were reflected in her exit from the show. Her relationship with the show’s creators was strained when she first withdrew her nominations for an Emmy in 2008, despite winning the previous year. After Grey’s, Heigl starred in movies including Life as We Know It, New Year’s Eve, One for the Money, Home Sweet Hell, and Unforgettable, and she hopped around TV shows like State of Affairs, Doubt, Suits, and Firefly Lane. She married the singer Josh Kelley in 2007, and together they have three children Naleigh, Adalaide, and Joshua.

10. Mark Sloan

In Season 2, Episode 18, Dr. McSteamy, also known as Mark Sloan, abruptly entered the scene and was punched by McDreamy after he flirted with Meredith and previously had an affair with Derek’s ex-wife. To put it mildly, that was not the greatest opening. On his trip, he overcame a deadly plane disaster that killed his love interest, only to meet his heartbreaking end following a last-ditch energy boost.

Despite his passion for Grey’s Anatomy, Eric Dane left the show to become a cast member of TNT’s The Last Ship, a five-season commitment he found intriguing. Though he chose different career paths, Dane expressed respect for the show in his reflections about his departure in 2013.

He did, however, make a brief appearance in Season 17. After Grey’s, Dane starred in Euphoria on HBO and made appearances in a number of movies, including Little Dixie (2023), The Ravine (2021), Redeeming Love (2022), and American Carnage (2022). Actress Rebecca Gayheart and Dane were married in 2004, and although they divorced in 2018, they were happy parents to two children, Billie Beatrice and Georgia Geraldine.

Since leaving the medical drama, he has navigated personal transitions and shown off his flexibility in a variety of TV and cinema productions.

11. Lexie Grey

In Season 3, everyone was taken aback by Lexie Grey, Meredith’s half-sister and a vivacious intern, who suddenly became prominent. Particularly for Mark, their love story and her sad death in the season 8 plane tragedy had a lasting effect.

In Season 8, Chyler Leigh bid adieu to Grey’s Anatomy and collaborated with creator Shonda Rhimes to provide Lexie with a meaningful send-off. Leigh praised her five seasons of supporters for their constant support and expressed thanks for her experience. Viewers were reminded of her when she briefly reappeared in Season 17 during Meredith’s dream sequences.

Leigh achieved fame after Grey’s in television series like Supergirl and The Flash, where she played Alex Danvers, the adopted sister of the main character. She co-starred with Andie MacDowell in the Hallmark TV series The Way Home in 2023. Leigh has been married to her former co-star Nathan West on 7th Heaven since 2002. Together, the couple has three kids.

The actress also bravely shared her story of living with bipolar disorder in 2019 when she participated in the Be Vocal campaign. Her path after Grey’s Anatomy has demonstrated her ability and tenacity in both on- and off-screen roles.

12. Preston Burke

In the first episode of the show, Dr. Preston Burke, a brilliant and attractive cardiothoracic surgeon, made a big impression. But his strict methods with George were meant to set a high standard for the interns.

Burke’s choice to desert Cristina at the altar signaled his exit from the show in 2007. Behind the scenes, Isaiah Washington was fired due to a homophobic slur that cast member Knight was the target of. In Season 10, he briefly reappeared and urged Cristina to take over his Swiss hospital.

Isaiah Washington carried on with his acting career after Grey’s Anatomy, most notably in The CW series The 100, Starz series P-Valley, and the 2022 movie Corsicana. Since 1996, he has been married to Jenisa Marie Garland, and together, they have three children. Even while Burke’s on-screen legacy endures, Washington carved out a career for himself in the entertainment world by navigating a variety of jobs after Grey’s departure.

13. Addison Forbes Montgomery

Addison Forbes Montgomery came to Seattle Grace with the intention of saving her marriage to Derek. But things in their marriage became worse with her affair with their colleague Mark and the developing relationship between Derek and Meredith. After failing to make amends with Derek and passing up a career opportunity, Addison left the show, opening the door for her own six-season spin-off, Private Practice.

Similar to some of the Grey’s Anatomy cast, Kate Walsh returned for Season 18, making multiple appearances during the run of the show. In addition to her work on Grey’s Anatomy, Walsh’s acting resume included appearances on Full Circle, Fargo, Bad Judge, 13 Reasons Why, The Umbrella Academy, Emily in Paris, and Sprung.

Walsh, who has been romantically linked to Australian Andrew Nixon since 2020, confirmed her engagement to him in October 2022. Walsh found satisfaction in her personal life outside of the entertainment industry, even as she moved between relationships and positions.

Isn’t it wild how, even after watching the series a bunch of times, we can still miss some tiny things? Besides what we see on the screen, finding out cool facts could be pretty neat, especially if you’re a big fan.


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