After 19 seasons on the air, Grey’s Anatomy became the longest-running scripted primetime show on ABC and earned a place among the most relevant series in recent years, with a fan base that keeps growing to this day. This show was created by Shonda Rhimes, who served as showrunner until 2015, when Krista Vernoff took her place. Grey’s Anatomy follows the day-to-day life of a group of surgeons, doctors and interns at Seattle Grace Hospital, focusing particularly on the character of Meredith Grey, daughter of the prestigious general surgeon Ellis Grey.
The show’s original cast was composed of Ellen Pompeo in the lead role, along with Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, Justin Chambers, T. R. Knight, Patrick Dempsey, Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr., and Isaiah Washington. However, over the course of the many seasons, the show has undergone several cast changes, with many of the actors stepping down from their roles for a number of reasons, ranging from other projects to complications within the show. Currently, the only members of the original cast who remain as main actors to this day are Wilson and Pickens.
Chambers, who played Alex Karev, was one of the last main actors to leave the cast at the end of season 16, and Pompeo, for her part, has not left the show, but rather her position as a full-time character, limiting herself to a few cameo appearances in certain episodes. As Chambers and Pompeo’s departures from the show are quite recent, they have not yet been featured in other projects. However, many of the actors who starred in Grey’s Anatomy went on to star in hit shows and movies over the past few years. Here are some of them.
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Chyler Leigh played Lexie Grey, Meredith’s half-sister and Mark Sloan’s love interest. The actress was on the show from the third to the eighth season, when she decided to step aside to spend more time with her family, so her character died in a plane crash at the end of the season. In recent years, Leigh secured her next popular role as Alex Danvers in the Supergirl series, which she also reprised in episodes of Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Currently, she is serving as executive producer and star in the miniseries The Way Home.
From the second to the ninth season of Grey’s Anatomy, Eric Dane played Mark Sloan, Derek’s best friend, who was also known as a womanizer who ruined his marriage. The character was killed off the series after Dane expressed interest in pursuing different projects. Soon after, he landed the lead role in the TV series The Last Ship, which aired for five seasons. Subsequently, he co-starred alongside Kathleen Robertson in the Canadian miniseries The Fixer. However, the best-known project in which Dane has been involved in recent years is undoubtedly Euphoria, the HBO series in which he plays Cal, Nate Jacobs’ father. In February 2022, the show was renewed for a third season.
Isaiah Washington gained notoriety for his role as Dr. Preston Burke in the first three seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. However, due to offensive comments he made to his castmate T. R. Knight and an on-set altercation between him and Patrick Dempsey, the actor got fired in 2007. After the abrupt termination of his contract, Washington moved on to star in several projects, both films and series. Some of the most relevant ones are the movie Blue Caprice and the TV show The 100. In recent years, the actor joined the cast of the drama show P-Valley, which was renewed for a third season last October. He also directed, wrote, produced and starred in the movie Corsicana.
Jessica Capshaw joined the show in season five as Arizona Robbins, and she portrayed the character for 10 seasons until she was fired for creative reasons in 2018. It’s been a few years since Capshaw left the show, but she has already been featured in several projects. In 2020, she starred alongside Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, and Jake Manley in the Netflix rom-com Holidate, and two years later, she was cast in Dear Zoe, a film starring Sadie Sink. Capshaw currently plays CJ Albright in the Hulu series Tell Me Lies.
Kate Walsh plays Dr. Addison Montgomery, a supporting character who came back for a few episodes in recent seasons. She also reprised the role as the main character in Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy’s spin-off that aired from 2007 to 2013. After leaving the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, Walsh joined a hit teen production 13 Reasons Why, where she played Olivia, Hannah Baker’s mother. A few years later, she landed the role of The Handler in The Umbrella Academy, another highly popular and critically acclaimed Netflix series. Currently, the actress has recurring roles in the shows Emily in Paris and Sprung.
Katherine Heigl played Izzie Stevens for the first six seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, and to this day, that remains one of her most acclaimed roles. However, due to creative differences with Rhimes and the need to devote more time to her family, Heigl left the show amidst some controversy. This, added to some statements she made about her experience working on the 2007 movie Knocked Up, gave her an unfair reputation of being a difficult artist to work with, something that greatly damaged her career.
Fortunately, in recent years Heigl has been able to overcome this situation and landed a few major roles in very popular projects. Among them, it is worth mentioning the series Suits and Firefly Lane, as well as the psychological thriller Fear of Rain, where she co-starred with Madison Iseman, Israel Broussard, Eugenie Bondurant, and Harry Connick Jr.
Patrick Dempsey’s departure from Grey’s Anatomy has not yet been overcome by fans. After 11 seasons playing Dr. Derek Shepherd, the actor decided to step aside in order to spend more time with his family, so his character was killed off the show. From that point on, the actor and racing driver remained active in both film and television, not only performing, but also producing.
In 2019, he produced The Art of Racing in the Rain, a film adaptation of Garth Stein’s novel starring Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried. and Kevin Costner. A few years later. he reprised his role as Robert Philip in the Disney film Disenchanted, sequel to the 2007 film Enchanted. Dempsey also starred in a number of series in recent years, including Devils and The Truth About the Harry Quebert, a miniseries based on Joël Dicker’s novel of the same name. He is also expected to star in the upcoming movie Ferrari, directed by Michael Mann.
For the first 10 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, Sandra Oh played Cristina Yang, one of the audience’s favorite characters and a key player in Meredith’s development. In 2014, Oh left the series in pursuit of new acting challenges, and from that point on, she did nothing but star in one successful project after another. Among her most acclaimed series in recent years stands out Killing Eve, a four-season show in which she co-starred alongside Jodie Comer and for which she received, among other awards, a Golden Globe for Best Actress.
Oh also starred in the shows The Chair and Invincible, both of which were well-received by audiences and viewers. She also worked successfully in film, participating in animated projects such as Over the Moon, Raya and the Last Dragon and Turning Red. This year, she is expected to serve as a voice actress in Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, which will serve as an animated prequel to the 1984 film Gremlins.
Sara Ramirez joined the cast of Grey’s Anatomy in its second season as Callie Torres, and they remained on the show until season 12. Ramirez’s departure was prompted by the fact that they felt they had come full circle on the show and wanted to take some time off before embarking on other projects. Fortunately, they soon after started appearing on-screen again, and as of 2017, they joined the cast of the political drama show Madam Secretary in its fourth season. A few years later, Ramirez appeared in And Just Like That…, the sequel to Sex and the City, where they play Che Diaz.
T. R. Knight
T. R. Knight appeared in Grey’s Anatomy until season five, and his departure was absolutely devastating for fans. However, in 2020, he returned as a guest star to reprise his role as George O’Malley for a few episodes. After leaving the show for what he called a “breakdown of communication” with Rhimes, Knight worked mostly in television. Among the most notable ones is the animated show The Bravest Knight, a children’s production considered groundbreaking and widely acclaimed for its diverse characters. In addition, he starred in the miniseries The Comey Rule, and he is currently a cast member of The Flight Attendant, an HBO Max production starring Kaley Cuoco.
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