Grey’s Anatomy first graced our TV screens on ABC on March 27, 2005. At first it was seen as just another American medical drama series, one of the hundreds that had been on air over the years, but as the series continued, it was clear that Grey’s Anatomy was anything but ordinary. The series started off by focusing on the challenging lives of surgical interns, and as the series progressed we got to watch them blossom into residents, attending physicians and even become heads of their own surgical department.
Of course, no medical drama would be complete without drama. And that is exactly what Grey’s Anatomy is known for, they certainly have plenty of drama. Whether it is relationship dilemmas, a difficult diagnosis, getting too close to patients, tragic events (how could we forget the infamous shooting and plane crash episodes) or so on- Grey’s Anatomy knows how to make some impressive dramatic and emotional on-screen moments.
Another thing the series is famous for, is for shocking us by suddenly killing off some of the main and original characters on the series. Of course, some of them just relocate for other jobs, but it is still a sad departure. And although some of our favorite characters are not on the show anymore, such as Izzie, George, Lexie, Derek, Mark, Callie and Cristina- life goes on at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital and we learn to move on as well. Luckily, we still have some of the original crew, and a pretty talented bunch of newcomers.
Despite the several cast changes throughout the years, the series is still going strong and is now on its fourteenth season, making it the longest-running scripted primetime series currently airing on ABC, and the second-longest in all of ABC history (after ER of course). Even though the ratings have fallen a bit over the years, Grey’s Anatomy still has many dedicated fans. It is still one of the highest-rated shows in the US, and one of the most-watched drama series on all of broadcast television.
The show’s success is due to the incredibly gifted actors and actresses over the years. Let’s take a minute and look back at some of the original cast, as well as some of the current, and see what their real lives, outside of their scrubs, are like.
You might just be surprised at how differently some of them look without their surgical gear!
Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey
Meredith Grey is one of the original interns from season one, and is still one of the main characters of the series. She worked her way up in the hospital, and is now the head of general surgery. Her fling with married Derek Shepherd was the highlight of the first season. She and Derek are eventually married, until his tragic death, leaving Meredith alone with their two daughters and son. Meredith has always been considered as one of the best doctors in the hospital, and even won a Harper Avery Award for her accomplishments.
Ellen Pompeo in real life
Ellen Pompeo started her acting career in the late ’90s, where she first appeared in a small role in the film Coming Soon. She continued to appear in smaller roles in films like Catch Me If You Can, Daredevil and Old School. Only months before she made her debut as Meredith, she appeared in an episode of Friends where she played Ross and Chandler’s old college crush, Missy Goldberg. It goes without saying that Ellen got her big break from playing Meredith Grey. She is now married to music producer Chris Ivery, and they have three children together.
Sara Ramirez as Dr. Callie Torres
Callie Torres is the former head of orthopedic surgery who first made her appearance as an orthopedic resident in the second season. She was married to the late George O’Malley until she found out that he cheated on her with Izzie. Poor Callie was heartbroken and moved on to dating women. She ended up getting married to Arizona Robbins, with whom she has a daughter. She left the show after the 12th season and Grey’s hasn’t been the same ever since!
Sara Ramirez in real life
Like many of her fellow Grey’s costars, Sara Ramirez struggled as an actress until she landed the role as Callie. She made her acting debut in a small role in the movie You’ve Got Mail, followed by several one-episode appearances in series like Spin City and NYPD Blue. After 10 long years of playing Callie, Sara said goodbye to her friends in Seattle. According to Sara, she just wanted some time off. Since her days as Grey’s, she has been voicing Queen Miranda on Sofia the First and appeared as Kat Sandoval in the series Madam Secretary. She has been married to banker Ryan DeBolt since 2012.
Chandra Wilson as Dr. Miranda Bailey
Miranda Bailey is one of the hospital’s greatest general surgeons, and is now the Chief of Surgery. Although she started off as a quiet and insecure intern, she was mentored by Richard Webber and quickly became a tough force to be recokned with. She would often intimidate her interns, but underneath she has a heart of gold and cares about them a great deal. She has one son with her ex-husband Tucker Jones, and later on gets married to Ben Warren.
Chandra Wilson in real life
Chandra has been appearing in television shows and movies since 1989, when she appeared on an episode of The Cosby Show. She had only minor roles until getting her dream role as Miranda in 2005, for which she has been nominated for an Emmy four times. Just like her character on Grey’s, Chandra is a loving and devoted mother, she has three children. Earlier this year Chandra opened up about her daughter’s illness, cyclic vomiting syndrome, and she even directed an episode of Grey’s that mirrored her own difficulties searching for a diagnosis for this mysterious disease.
Patrick Dempsey as Dr. Derek Shepherd
Derek Shepherd, aka Dr. McDreamy, was Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital’s most charming neurosurgeon. Him and Meredith Grey fell in love early on in the series while she was still a new intern. Although the couple had their ups and downs, including Derek failing to tell Meredith that he was married to Addison at the time, they eventually got married and have three children together. Derek died tragically after getting hit by a truck while he was saving victims from a car crash.
Patrick Dempsey in real life
Patrick Dempsey reached success as an actor early on in films like Can’t Buy me Love, Loverboy and Sweet Home Alabama. His role as McDreamy is what he is of course known for today, and when he left the series in 2015, it came as a shocker his many fans. According to the Grey’s star, it “had been long enough” and he was ready to move on, which he did pretty quickly by appearing in Bridget Jones’s Baby the following year. Besides acting, Patrick is also a vintage car collector and races cars in his spare time. He is also married to Jillian Fink and the beautiful couple have three children.
Justin Chambers as Dr. Alex Karev
Alex Karev is one of Grey’s original, and longest-lasting characters. Along with Meredith, Miranda and Richard, Alex has been saving lives since the very first episode, and is still appearing in the newest season. He is the head of Pediatric Surgery, and was known early on for his romance and marriage with Izzie, who broke his heart after abandoning him shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer. He tends to have a bad attitude, although he also has a sweet, caring and incredibly compassionate side that he shows to the ones he loves.
Justin Chambers in real life
It should come as no surprise that Justin started off as a fashion model before he shifted to acting. He modeled for big names from Calvin Klein to Dolce & Gabbana. He first started his acting career in 1995, after appearing in an episode of the NBC soap Another World. He had some smaller roles in film, but was mostly an unrecognizable face until 2005, when he first landed the role as Alex. Unlike his character on the show, he has been in (only) one steady relationship with his wife Keisha since 1993, who he has 5 children with!
Camilla Luddington as Dr. Jo Wilson
Jo Wilson is a surgical resident who first joined Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital during the 9th season. Jo Has been through a lot, including being abandoned by her mother when she was a newborn and an abusive relationship with her husband, who she ran away from. She came to Seattle in order to start a new life away from her husband, who she said would never find her there. She went on to have a relationship with Alex, who she revealed all of her past’s secrets to.
Camilla Luddington in real life
The British beauty, Camilla Luddington, got her first recurring role as Lizzie in Californication, followed by Claudette in several episodes of True Blood. She also appeared as Kate Middleton in Lifetime’s movie William & Kate. She is currently dating 13 Reasons Why actor Matthew Alan, who also recently guest starred in an episode of Grey’s. The couple welcomed their first child, a baby girl named Hayden, in April this year.
Jessica Capshaw as Dr. Arizona Robbins
Arizona Robbins entered Seattle Grace during the 5th season, as a surgical fellow for the pediatric surgery department. She and Callie started dating and eventually got married and have a daughter together named Sofia. They had a pretty rocky marriage, especially after Callie decided to amputate her wife’s leg after she was in a plane crash, even though she promised her she wouldn’t. Yup, that could put a damper on things. They later on got a divorce and went their separate ways.
Jessica Capshaw in real life
You might remember Jessica from films like Minority Report, where she played alongside Tom Cruise, and as one of the leads in the horror film Valentine. She also had a recurring role as Jamie Stringer in the series The Practice. However, her role on Grey’s is still her biggest and longest-lasting TV role she has ever had. Jessica was born to perform with an actress as a mother, Kate Capshaw, and none other then Steven Spielberg as her stepfather! She has been married to Christiopher Gavigan since 2004, with whom she has 4 children.
Kevin McKidd as Dr. Owen Hunt
Owen Hunt is the hospital’s current Head of Trauma and former solider who made his first appearance in the show’s 5th season. He and Cristina had a pretty hot and heavy on and off relationship until they finally ended things due to their different views on having children. He later dated, and got married to Amelia Shepherd. He is one of the hospital’s most talented surgeons, although he is known for his sometimes unorthodox methods.
Kevin McKidd in real life
Before playing Owen, Kevin McKidd starred as Tommy in the film Trainspotting and as Dan Vasser in the NBC series Journeyman. Despite his experience prior to Grey’s, Kevin is still widely recognized as Dr. Owen Hunt. The Scottish actor, who came to the US to pursue his dream of acting, officially became an American citizen only two years ago, in 2015. He is now the father of two children, who he has with his ex-wife Jane Parker.
Sarah Drew as Dr. April Kepner
April Kepner is an attending trauma surgeon at the hospital and is one of the staff members who came from Mercy West Medical Center after the merger in the 6th season. April is portrayed as a religious Christian, and often prays for her patients each time before they start surgery. A dedicated worker, April doesn’t have much of a social life outside of work and church-related events. April still has some trauma from when she was held at gunpoint during the infamous shooting.
Sarah Drew in real life
Sarah Drew actually got her start as the voice of the insecure Fashion Club member, Stacy Rowe, in MTV’s animated series Daria. She later on landed a role as Hannah Rogers in the WB series Everwood before eventually making her big break on Grey’s. Similar to her character on the show, she is a dedicated Christian and is the daughter and sister of a pastor. She has been married to Peter Lanfer since 2002, with whom she has two children.
Caterina Scorsone as Dr. Amelia Shepherd
Amelia Shepherd is Derek’s youngest sister. She decided to follow in the footsteps of her big brother and became a neurosurgeon. She previously worked at Seaside before relocating to Seattle in order to take over Derek’s job as Head of Neurosurgery after he moved to D.C. Later on she and Owen start an on-again-off-again relationship, and she eventually proposes to him and they get married. Feeling like they rushed into the marriage, Amelia leaves her new husband’s apartment and they are currently separated.
Caterina Scorsone in real life
Caterina Scorsone appeared in the series Goosebumps and Power Play during the late ’90s. She gained recognition after playing the lead role as Jess Mastriani in the series 1-800-Missing for three years until eventually landing a role on Private Practice and Grey’s Anatomy as Amelia Shepherd. Caterina has been married to actor/musician Rob Giles since 2009, and the couple now have two children together.
Kate Walsh as Dr. Addison Montgomery
Addison Montgomery appeared in the first season as Derek’s wife, who cheated on him with his best friend Mark. After Addison found out about Derek’s affair with Meredith, she divorced him. She is a double board certified OB/GYN and is one of the country’s top neonatal surgeons and medical geneticists. She later on got remarried to Jake Reilly and adopted a baby boy from a former patient. Her character was so popular that she even got her own spin-off series Private Practice, which ran for 6 seasons until 2013.
Kate Walsh in real life
Kate Walsh was known for her role as Nicki Fifer in The Drew Carey Show before she landed the role as Addison on Grey’s Anatomy, and on her spin-off series Private Practice. She eventually said goodbye to the character after 8 years in order to move on to different opportunities. She appeared in a few episodes in the first season of Fargo followed by the lead in the series Bad Judge, which unfortunately only lasted for one season. She is currently playing Oliver Baker in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why.
T.R. Knight as Dr. George O’Malley
George was the lovable, good-hearted surgical resident at Seattle Grace Hospital who started off as an intern in the first season. He was best friends/lovers with Izzie and later on married Callie Torres, which ended in divorce due to his affair with Izzie. After George joined the army to be a trauma surgeon, Richard let him go home early on his last day at the hospital, in order to say goodbye to his family. While he was on his way to his house, he jumped in front of a moving bus in order to save a woman’s life, and died in the process. Making it one of the most shocking and emotional scenes in Grey’s history.
T.R. Knight in real life
With all of the dramatic departures on the series, T.R.’s was probably the most shocking and emotional. According to the actor, he quit the show after the executive producer Shonda Rhimes drastically cut his screen time by the 5th season. T.R. has appeared in several series since, such as The Good Wife and The Catch. He is currently starring as J.Edgar Hoover in the National Geographic docudrama about Albert Einstein’s life, Genius.
Sandra Oh as Dr. Cristina Yang
Cristina Yang first appeared as an ambitious intern, and probably the most talented in the group. She has had some intense relationships including a heavy fling with Head of Trauma Owen Hunt and an engagement with cardiothoracic surgeon Preston Burke. Her most famous relationship however is probably with Meredith Grey, who is her best friend or “person” as they call it. They have been there for one another through some pretty difficult and tough times. Cristina left during the 10th season for a better job in Switzerland.
Sandra Oh in real life
Sandra Oh actually started off as a ballerina until pursuing a career in acting. She was known pre-Grey’s for her role in films like Under the Tuscan Sun and Sideways, so by the time she made her first appearance as Cristina Yang, she was already a pretty recognizable face. After nearly 10 years on Grey’s, she decided it was time to move on to different projects. Since she has left, she has appeared in the independent film Catfight and is working on her next role, as the lead Eve Polastri in the upcoming mini-series Killing Eve.
Katherine Heigl as Dr. Izzie Stevens
Izzie Stevens was one of the original surgical interns from the first season. A fan favorite, her relationship with a dying patient, Denny Duquette Jr. was the highlight of the second season. How could we ever forget Izzie crying at Denny’s bed side in her pretty pink evening gown? She also had a complicated relationship with the late George and later on married Alex Karev, only to abandon him shortly after getting diagnosed with cancer. By the time she returns, Alex has already moved on.
Katherine Heigl in real life
When Katherine Heigl left the series after 5 years, her many fans were devastated. Grey’s made Katherine into a huge star, and she was the lead in several films such as 27 Dresses, Knocked Up and The Ugly Truth while still playing the role of Izzie. According to the actress, it was too much for her at the time, and she wanted to take a break in order to focus on having children and building a home with her husband Josh Kelley, who she married in 2007. The couple now have three children together. Katherine is acting again, and recently appeared as Sadie Ellis in the CBS series Doubt.
Chyler Leigh as Dr. Lexie Grey
Lexie Grey is Meredith’s sister who follows in her sister’s footsteps and starts her internship in the 3rd season. She had some of the most interesting and dramatic relationships, including one with George, followed by Alex and then Mark. Lexie was one of the passengers on the plane that crashed with Meredith, Cristina, Arizona, Mark and Derek. She along with her lover Mark Sloan, were the two fatal casualties from the crash. The hospital was re-named Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in their memory.
Chyler Leigh in real life
Chyler Leigh had several roles in TV shows and movies before joining the cast of Grey’s, but she was best known as the lead Janey Briggs in Not Another Teen Movie. Chyler left the series in 2012 in a shocking exit, in order to spend some more time with her husband Nathan West and their three children. Chyler is now appearing as Alex Danvers in the CW’s series Supergirl.