The infamous medical drama follows Meredith Grey, the daughter of renowned surgeon – Ellis Grey – and her struggles throughout her time at Grey Sloan Memorial hospital in Seattle.
We feel for Meredith – it can’t be easy trying to live up to your millionaire parents and deal with the pressures of junior-Doctor life at the same time!
That’s where the squad come in – bringing with them a whole load of angst, challenges and most of all, love.
Maybe you’ve never watched an episode before or maybe you’re a die-hard fan. Either way prepare to have your mind blown with these top 60 facts…
1. The show was inspired by documentaries
The show’s executive producer – Shona Rhimes – actually came up with the concept of Grey’s Anatomy after watching The Discovery Channel.
Let’s do it like they do on the discovery channel…
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, she said:
‘There’s something fascinating about the medical world — you see things you’d never imagine, like the fact that doctors talk about their boyfriends or their day while they’re cutting somebody open…
…So when ABC asked me to write another pilot, the [operating room] seemed like the natural setting.’
2. Meredith Grey’s home really does exist in Seattle
One of the most notable locations for the show is Meredith Grey’s house – known by its ficitional address as 613 Harper Lane.
But did you know that the house actually exists? You can drive out to see it!
The $13.3 billion home is located on 303 Comstock Street for you curious fans out there…
3. The show was originally going to be named ‘Complications’
The producers originally came up with the title name ‘Complications’, which is very fitting for this show (it gets HEAVY) but we are thankful it didn’t stick!
4. Ellen Pompeo didn’t have to audition
It seems mad to think but the leading lady didn’t even audition for the iconic role of Meredith Grey!
She had no idea how big the show would be
in an interview with Backstage she said:
‘I didn’t audition for Meredith Grey; I was offered the part by Shonda and the network.’
She thought it would be just ‘another pilot’ that wouldn’t lead anywhere…little did she know the character would stay with her for the next twelve years!
5. The show helped to save a life
The Hollywood Reporter stated that in the most horrifying scenario, Grey’s Anatomy actually saved a mother’s life.
Kandace Seyferth fell unconscious after having a severe asthma attack.
Her friend and 10-year-old daughter Madisyn were able to administer CPR, which they learned from watching the show!
6. The scrubs are used in actual hospitals
ABC partnered up with Barco Uniforms in 2006 and began making professional scrubs under the label of Grey’s Anatomy.
You can dress up like the stars!
7. Seattle was not the original setting
The creator, Shona Rhimes, originally imagined the show would be set in Chicago, which is her hometown.
Then she realised that it would be too similar to the former medical drama E.R. So, the location was changed.
Shonda felt this would make the show more unique – it’s crazy to imagine the show being anywhere other than Seattle!
8. Ellen Pompeo is the highest-paid woman on TV
The star reportedly earns around a whopping $20 million every year, making her the highest paid woman on telly.
She told The Hollywood Reporter that she works very hard to live in luxury:
‘The truth is, anybody can be good on a show season one and two. Can you be good 14 years later? Now, that’s a f*****g skill.”
8. Isaiah Washington was supposed to play the role of Derek Shepherd
The star was originally going to play Derek but the role went to Patrick Dempsey in the end.
Isaih was the first of the original cast members to leave the show after an unfortunate incident where he was accused of making homophobic slurs against co-star T.R Knight.
10. The medical storylines are taken from medical journals or fans’ ideas
The producers say that they want Grey’s Anatomy to appear as authentic as possible and there are advisors on set to make sure.
The cast are taught by professional advisors
The producers choose the storylines based on actual medical findings and suggestions from the viewers that they find the most interesting.
Reportedly, the cast are given a lot of support and materials to help them understand the reality of the fictional surgeries they perform.
11. The only character to have a physical description was Miranda Bailey
Shonda Rhimes didn’t imagine what any of the cast looked like apart from the character of Miranda Bailey, who she originally wanted as a ‘short, white, blonde female’.
When Chandra Wilson rocked up, however, Shonda knew that she had to scratch that idea!
12. Patrick Dempsey didn’t know that his character was married
Patrick Dempsey was in for a surprise when he found out that his character was actually married.
The thing is no one told him (or Ellen Pompeo) until filming for the season 1 finale was underway!
13. Addison was only written into a few episodes
It seems crazy to think that the flame-haired Addison Forbes (played by actress Kate Walsh) was only meant to appear in a few episodes!
However, she got on so well with the cast that the producers decided to make her a full-time member.
She was so popular that she even got given her own spin-off show Private Practice, which aired from 2007 until 2013.
It’s not a surprise that everyone was a little bit jel…
14. There almost wasn’t an ‘Alex Karev’
One of most loved characters on Grey’s Anatomy is troubled Alex Karev, who wasn’t even originally written into the script.
The pilot was filmed before Alex joined the cast so his scenes were digitally inserted into the first episode!
15. Jessica Capshaw auditioned for multiple roles
She auditioned for the role of Derek’s love interest (Nurse Rose) and Meredith’s loopy friend Sadie, before landing the part of Arizona Robbins.
16. Patrick thought Shonda hated his audition
Patrick Dempsey was sure he hadn’t got the part after he auditioned, believing that Shonda Rhimes had been unimpressed with his performance.
Reportedly, Shonda had a ‘stone-cold’ expression throughout the audition, which unnerved him to no end.
In an interview with Manhatten magazine, he described the experience:
‘At first I thought [Shonda] hated me, but she was calculating in her head where to put me and what I’d be right for.’
17. The idea for the show was developed by shaving legs
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Shona Rhimes explained how the idea for Grey’s Anatomy was developed by the smallest and most random thing.
She told Oprah that:
‘…The idea for the series began when a doctor told me it was incredibly hard to shave her legs in the hospital shower. At first that seemed like a silly detail. But then I thought about the fact that it was the only time and place this woman might have to shave her legs.’
18. Real surgeons are used in surgery scenes
Jim Parriott, executive producer on the show, explained that what you see as a viewer is actually real:
‘We have a really terrific medical producer, Linda Klein, who stages these operations and brings in real surgeons so the handwork you see a lot of the time is a real surgeon tying a knot.’
19. They hid Ellen’s real-life pregnancy with a storyline
During the filming of season 6, Ellen Pompeo became pregnant, which put her character into a bit of a difficult situation.
The liver transplant
So instead of making Meredith pregnant, the writers found a way to hide the pregnancy.
They wrote in a liver surgery storyline, in which Meredith has an operation to give part of her liver to her estranged father.
Ellen was able to hide her pregnant tum under the hospital sheets!
20. The throwing cereal scene took longer than anticipated…
We remember the awkward moment when Christina found out that Owen had cheated on her…
…But did you know the iconic moment where she throws cereal at his face actually took three takes to get right?
Poor Kevin, he must have been put off milk for life!
21. They use red jell-o for blood
The blood that you see on the show is actually a combination of red jell-o, blood and chicken fat!
22. Shonda based the characters off real-life traits of the actors
Katherine Heigl’s character Izzie possessed many of the same qualities and hobbies as the actress herself.
Izzie loves to bake
Katherine said to the New York Post:
‘The writers incorporate a lot of our own personalities into the characters. I cook, I bake, I knit. Izzie’s the super moral version of me.’
Katherine left the show in 2010, but later regretted it as she felt she had more to offer the character.
23. Jesse Williams used to be a teacher
Before taking on the role of Dr Jackson Avery in the hospital ward, Jesse used to work inside the classroom!
In an interview with Ellen, he said:
‘I taught high school, I taught middle school, I taught kindergarten for about six months.’
24. Sandra Oh suggested her character should have an emotional breakdown
Our hearts were crushed when Christina lost her baby and the tragedy was heightened when the character had an emotional breakdown – which Sandra suggested to Shonda, who of course went on to write the episode.
25. Katherine Heigl pulled out of the Emmys
After her role as Dr Izzy Stevens won her an Emmy in 2008, in a bizarre move, Katherine pulled her name out from the Emmy race.
Her reason was she felt she had not been given enough material to work with that would warrant an award.
In a statement she said:
‘I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention.’
26. The doctors all love drinking for a reason
Shonda Rhimes making the characters alcohol-lovers was not an accident – she wanted them to be seen drinking!
On Meredith and Christina drinking tequila, Shonda said she wanted to show it because:
‘You never saw women drinking on TV…women weren’t the hard drinkers.’
Keeping it real.
27. Patrick Dempsey got fired
Did you know that Patrick Dempsey reportedly got fired once for being a ‘diva’ and clashing with producers?
28. Chyler Leigh filmed the plane crash for two days
Chyler Leigh – who played Dr Lexie Grey – stayed under the wreckage of the plane crash on set for two days!
She decided that it would be easier to just stay under the wreckage for the long haul filming session.
‘I opted to stay underneath [the wreckage] for the most part over two days rather than trying to get in and out.’
29. It took Kevin McKidd years to get on the show
The scottish actor reportedly spent years auditioning for Grey’s Anatomy, before finally landing the part of Dr Owen Hunt.
The producer Betsy Beers said that:
‘We met Kevin McKidd generally for a couple of different parts for him, until she created the role of Owen.’
30. Patrick Dempsey actually wrote down Derek’s wedding vows on a post-it note
In the season 5 episode Now or Never, Derek and Meredith wrote their wedding vows down on a blue post-it note.
One of the propmasters commented that:
‘He could have been writing the Lord’s Prayer for all we know as viewers. But he wasn’t. He was writing the dialogue, and it was lovely.’
31. Sandra Oh originally auditioned for the role of Miranda Bailey
Before she got the part of Christina Yang, Sandra actually auditioned to be Miranda Bailey!
Can you imagine?
The casting directors were even interested in her taking on the role after her successful audition.
Still, Sandra’s heart wasn’t in it and she asked to audition for the part of Christina:
In ABC and Cadillac’s Beyond the Screen series she revealed how she pushed for the role:
‘So I’m gonna say what I really, really want — which is, I wanna audition for the part of Cristina Yang. And then they called and they said, you got the part.’
32. Taylor Swift is a big fan of the show
Did you know that pop star sensation Taylor Swift is such a fan of the show that she named her cat after the main character?
Taylor decided to name her cat Meredith, a testament to her love of the show!
33. Shonda Rhimes has a diverse casting rule
In a masterclass, Shonda revealed her casting secret:
‘Take half the characters that you made men, and make them women. Take one character you were gonna cast one colour, cast them differently.’
34. Bailey’s euphemism ‘vajayjay’ came from an assistant
Miranda Bailey’s iconic term for a lady’s private area actually came from an assistant, who used the term on set one day.
The phrase quickly caught on
Shonda admitted to Oprah that she overheard the word and loved it so much that she decided to write it into the show.
‘In one of our first shows, we used the word ‘penis’ about 32 times—but when we said ‘vagina’ twice, the broadcast-standards people blinked. We fought that and won—but ‘va-jay-jay’ is our favourite alternate term.’
35. The show may never end
According to Shonda Rhimes, the show used to have an ending that was carefully planned.
However, it got so successful that she decided to scrap the original ending and come up with a new one.
She also said the show would probably carry on for as long as Ellen Pompeo will play Meredith Grey.
36. The producers released a novel
The book was released in 2006 and consists of a number of blog posts from the point of view of the characters, Nurse Debbie and Joe the Bartender.
The book was written by executive producer, Stacy McKee.
37. Patrick Dempsey was ‘Mcdreamy’ before Derek Shepherd
Shonda did say that the character’s traits are loosely based off real-life and ‘Mcdreamy’ is no exception!
He’s okay I suppose…
Shonda told Oprah that all the cast and crew fell in love with Patrick Dempsey.
‘We’d watch the monitor and think, ‘Look at his dreamy eyes!’ So we started calling him Patrick McDreamy, and it stuck.’
38. Rob Lowe was nearly cast as Derek Shepherd
We can’t even imagine anyone other than Patrick Dempsey filling the shoes of Mr Mcdreamy…
…but it turns out he wasn’t the only one in the running!
Rob Lowe was offered the role but turned it down to take part in the CBS series Dr Vegas.
39. Kate Walsh and Sandra Oh played a couple
Ever been amazed by the chemistry between these good pals?
Well they actually once played an on-screen lesbian couple in the 2003 film Under the Tuscan sun.
40. Chandra Wilson is a Broadway star
Instead of performing surgery in her trademark scrubs, Chandra was busy performing on stage in a sleek black suit!
The actress played Matron ‘Mama’ Morton in the Ambassador theatre.
She revealed that before she landed a role on Grey’s Anatomy, she was active on stage:
‘Before Grey’s Anatomy, I was doing musicals, plays, commercials, you name it.
She has also appeared in the Broadway productions of On the Town, Caroline, Change and Avenue Q.
41. Not much of the show is filmed in Seattle
Despite the fact that the Emerald City is such a prime aspect of the show, they don’t film much there.
A lot of the action is filmed in Los Angeles – even the hospital is based in North Hills, California!
42. They use cow organs
The organs you see on the screen are very much real organs – taken from cows!
Sarah Drew who played Dr April Kepner told RTE magazine that:
‘The smell is repulsive and makes us all gag. And we use an actual soldering tool to solder the organs. It smells like burning flesh.’
43. All the episode titles are song titles
You may not have noticed, but every single episode of Grey’s Anatomy is named after a different song.
Shonda Rhimes actually helps to pick out the score and music is a big part of the show.
‘I get a rush when I find exactly the right music for a scene. We do current stuff, older stuff, even stuff we’ve never heard before.’
44. Derek was originally going to be a father
Shonda Rhimes ended up changing quite a bit of the show’s original plan, which involved Derek having a teenage daughter!
His daughter was going to be the reason he took the job in Seattle, in order to help make up for mistakes he’d made in the past!
45. Katherine Heigl had to have therapy after leaving the show
It’s not a secret that Katherine butted heads with the producers and cast but when she awkwardly made her exit, she told Howard Stern that:
‘I was really struggling with it and how to not take it all personally and not to feel that there’s something really deeply wrong with me.’
46. Shonda Rhimes only regrets killing off one character
There have been a lot of people entering the Grey’s world and not coming back out again…
The bomb squad guy
Dylan Young, head of the bomb squad (played by Kyle Chandler), was tragically killed after carrying a bomb that detonated.
Shonda Rhimes admitted to Entertainment Weekly that:
‘He was written to explode. But I did not expect to have Kyle Chandler. I didn’t want to explode him.’
47. Isaiah Washington learnt how to perform surgery for the role
In order to fully prepare himself for the role, Isaiah actually spent time watching real doctors’ work.
He even took shifts at local hospitals to understand how they work.
Method acting at its finest.
48. Patrick Dempsey auditioned for House before his big break
Did you know Patrick Dempsey actually auditioned for the role of Dr. Gregory House? Looks like he was determined to get on at least one medical drama!
49. The title is a reference to a book
Grey’s Anatomy was named after the famous anatomy book written by Henry Gray, Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body.
Henry Gray was an English surgeon and anatomist in the 1800s. The first edition of his book was published in 1858.
The famous textbook covers the human anatomy in extensive detail and has been referenced a lot in popular films and TV shows such as Star Trek and Dan Brown’s Inferno.
50. Hilarie Burton and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are together in real life
The two Hollywood stars who are married with two children both had recurring roles on Grey’s Anatomy, but not at the same time.
Jeffrey played Denny Duquette who appeared in seasons two, three and five. Hilary played Dr Lauren Boswell who had a brief stint in season 9.
51. Sarah Drew really gave birth hours after filming her character’s birth scene
Sarah Drew was actually pregnant at the same time as her character April Kepner and gave birth just hours after filming.
She told Access Hollywood live that:
‘It was a big, long 10-hour work day of doing the labor and delivery scene on the show. And, I went home, it was 8 PM and at 6 AM, I woke up with a really intense contraction three-and-a-half weeks early, so didn’t think I was in labor.’
52. T.R. Knight got outed in the worst way
Co-stars T.R. Knight and Isaiah Washington got into a fight, after Isaiah allegedly used a homophobic slur against him.
Isaiah was dismissed after the incident but it put our poor George in an awkward position when he wasn’t quite ready to come out publicly.
‘While I prefer to keep my personal life private, I hope the fact that I’m gay isn’t the most interesting part of me.’
53. The names on the board at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital are real
The names written on the OR board at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital are the names of real people who work on the show!
So there’s a credit list of people up on screen all the time!
Maybe we should start working there…
54. Chyler Leigh dropped out of school
Lexie Grey graduated from Harvard Medical School and went on to become a doctor…whereas the actress actually didn’t finish high school.
55. The producers change the character’s names for auditions
Grey’s Anatomy is a very secretive show with information about characters, that no one but the head producers actually know about.
When they have people audition for parts, they change the names to prevent information from getting leaked.
So if you’re planning on getting on this show, you’d better ace the audition or you have to wait like the rest of us!
56. Kate Walsh had a brain tumour
Best known for her role as Addison in the show, the actress revealed some terrible news.
In 2015, she was diagnosed with meningioma – a tumor around the brain and spinal cord – fortunately they caught it in time and she recovered.
57. Jesse Williams won a Humanitarian award
The actor/activist won the award in 2016 after his work helping to push for equality and diversity.
58. Meredith and Preston were supposed to end up together
It’s hard to believe after the iconic romance between Meredith and Derek but originally, Shonda Rhimes had a different path for the character.
Ellen didn’t agree
In the end it didn’t happen because Ellen didn’t see her character ending up with Preston.
She said to ENews:
‘I said I wanted that Dempsey kid. I think that once Isaiah did not get the role it backfired.’
59. Kevin McKidd is Scottish
Kevin Mckidd was actually born in Scotland! He puts on an American accent for Grey’s Anatomy.
You can hear his Scottish accent in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, where he played the character Tommy.
60. Shonda Rhimes filled the character’s lockers
Being the only person to know the characters inside and out, Shonda Rhimes stocked up their lockers with items personal to each character and their traits.
Meredith Grey had birthday cards and alarm clocks.
Christina Yang’s consisted of high heels for after work and even condoms! Ooer.