TV & Movies

The Grey’s Anatomy Cast Has Come A Long Way Since Their Intern Scrubs

From 2005 to today, here’s how much has changed.

Ellen Pompeo is one of three original cast members on 'Grey's Anatomy.' Photo via Getty Images
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Grey’s Anatomy is the longest-running primetime medical drama, and only three Day 1 cast members from 2005 are still series regulars. Here’s a look back at Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr., and the rest of the cast’s journeys on and off the show.

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It’s hard to imagine Grey’s without Pompeo — but she was hesitant to sign on at first. “I was like, ‘I’m not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years,’” she told her agent at the time, as she recounted to THR. “‘Are you out of your f*ckin’ mind? I’m an actress.’”

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Eighteen seasons later, Meredith is the only member of MAGIC (Meredith, Alex, George, Izzie, and Cristina) still on Grey’s. Just as Mer has grown up before our eyes, Pompeo has, too, harnessing her voice off-screen for representation and equal pay.

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Of course, the resident who raised Mer’s chaotic intern class is still here — and thriving! Heeding a friend’s advice to not “put all your eggs in one basket,” Chandra Wilson kept her bank job during the early days of playing Dr. Bailey, she said on Ellen.

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Yes, Dr. Bailey was introduced to those very nervous interns as “The Nazi,” but after 18 seasons (and counting), she’s clearly the heart of Grey Sloan Memorial. Wilson has directed many episodes, too, and told Variety she’ll stay on Grey’s “until the wheels come off.”

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In 2006, James Pickens Jr. described Richard Webber as “maybe the best character” he’s played in his entire career. “He’s all the things that you look for when you see folks who challenge and battle their faults ... I’m his biggest fan.”

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Today, Pickens — who incidentally loves to rodeo rope when he’s not acting — has just as much passion for Dr. Webber. “To get a gig like this ... and have it go this long, has just been amazing,” he told LIVE with Kelly and Ryan in 2019.

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Kevin McKidd joined Grey’s in Season 5, back when he heroically saved Cristina from an accidental icicle shiv. Thanks to the series’ incredible longevity, he’s technically been a regular longer than Patrick Dempsey played Derek.

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Though she was already a Grey’s fan, Camilla Luddington actually missed the audition for Jo. Luckily, Shonda Rhimes, who previously worked on a canceled project with Luddington, wanted the actor enough that she called and had her audition later, Luddington revealed on AOL BUILD.

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Kelly McCreary and Caterina Scorsone became Grey’s series regulars in Season 11. While Scorsone already played Amelia on Private Practice, McCreary’s role as Maggie was very under wraps — Marvel-style. Her audition was for a fake character called Claudette, she revealed in 2014.

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Even with Grey’s ever-growing cast, the show has proven that there’s always room for past members of the family to return — from Kim Raver, who resumed her role as Teddy in Season 15, to long-dead characters like Derek, George, Mark, and Lexie two years later.

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The current cast is their own kind of MAGIC (sans the catchy acronym). The connections they’ve made on the show extend IRL, too — McCreary met her husband, a director, while shooting Grey’s, per People, while Luddington told BuzzFeed she’s besties with Jessica Capshaw (Arizona).

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