Grey's Anatomy is an American medical drama television series that premiered on March 27, 2005, on American Broadcasting Company (ABC) as a mid-season replacement. The fictional series focuses on the lives of surgical interns, residents, and attending physicians, as they develop into seasoned doctors while trying to maintain personal lives and relationships. The title is a play on Gray's Anatomy, a classic human anatomy textbook first published in 1858 in London and written by Henry Gray. Shonda Rhimes developed the pilot and continues to write for the series; she is also one of the executive producers, along with Betsy Beers, Mark Gordon, Krista Vernoff, Rob Corn, Mark Wilding, and Allan Heinberg. Although the series is set in Seattle (at the fictional Seattle Grace, later known as the Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital), it is filmed primarily in Los Angeles, California.
The series was designed to be racially diverse and used color-blind casting. It revolves around the title character, Dr. Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo, first featured as an intern. The original cast consisted of nine star-billed actors: Pompeo, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, Justin Chambers, T. R. Knight, Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr., Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey. The cast has undergone major changes through the series' run, with many members leaving and being replaced by others. In its twelfth season, the show had a large ensemble of sixteen actors, including four characters from the original cast (Meredith Grey, Alex Karev, Miranda Bailey, and Richard Webber).
On February 10, 2017, ABC renewed Grey's Anatomy for a fourteenth season, which premiered on September 28, 2017. The series' success catapulted such long-running cast members as Pompeo, Dempsey, and Oh to worldwide recognition; they were among the top five highest-earning television actors in 2013. While the show's ratings have fallen over the course of its run (it was once among the overall top 10 shows in the United States), it is still one of the highest-rated shows among the 18–49 demographic, and the No. 3 drama on all of broadcast television. The series was the highest revenue-earning show on television, in terms of advertising, in the 2007-08 season; in 2017, it was ranked tenth on the list. Grey's Anatomy ranks as ABC's highest-rated drama in its fourteenth season.
Grey's Anatomy has been well received by critics throughout much of its run, and has been included in various critics' year-end top ten lists. Since its inception, the show has been described by the media outlets as a television "phenomenon" or a "juggernaut", owing to its longevity and dominant ratings. It is considered to have had a significant effect on popular culture and has received numerous awards, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama. It has received thirty-eight Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including two for Outstanding Drama Series. The cast members have also received several accolades for their respective performances. Grey's Anatomy is the longest-running scripted primetime show currently airing on ABC, the second-longest scripted primetime ABC show ever, and the second-longest primetime medical drama, after ER.
The series follows Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), the daughter of an esteemed general surgeon named Ellis Grey, following her acceptance into the residency program at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital. During her time as a resident, Grey works alongside her fellow doctors Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), Alex Karev (Justin Chambers), and George O'Malley (T. R. Knight), who each struggle to balance personal lives with the hectic work and training schedules. They are overseen during their internship by Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), a senior resident who works for attending Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), the head of neurosurgery and Meredith's love interest; Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington), the head of cardio, who becomes Yang's fiancé; and Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.), the Chief of Surgery and attending general surgeon, and lover of Ellis Grey decades before. In the sixth season, these residents are joined by Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) and April Kepner (Sarah Drew), former Mercy-West residents who join Seattle Grace following an administrative merger. During the first six seasons, Burke, O'Malley and Stevens all depart the series.
In addition to Webber, Burke, and Shepherd, the surgical wing is primarily supervised by Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh), as head of OB/GYN, neonatal, and fetal surgery; Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez), a resident who later becomes head of orthopedic surgery, who left Seattle at the end of the twelfth season; Mark Sloan (Eric Dane), as head of plastics; Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd), as head of trauma; Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw), as head of pediatric surgery, and later head of fetal surgery; Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith), as head of cardio; Teddy Altman (Kim Raver), as head of cardio; and Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone), Derek's sister, who is hired to replace him as head of neuro.
New young doctors in the residency program include Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh), Meredith's half-sister. She is killed with Mark Sloan in the season eight finale. Other additions include Leah Murphy (Tessa Ferrer), who departs near the end of the tenth season, but returns during the thirteenth; Shane Ross (Gaius Charles), who departs with Yang in the tenth-season finale; Stephanie Edwards (Jerrika Hinton), who resigns during season thirteen; Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington), a doctor who begins a romantic relationship with Karev; Andrew Deluca (Giacomo Gianniotti), the love-interest of Meredith's half-sister Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary), who also serves as head of cardio; and Benjamin Warren (Jason George), an anesthesiologist-turned-resident, who has to balance his own desire to succeed with his wife Miranda Bailey's new role as Chief of Surgery. In Season twelve attending cardio surgeon Nathan Riggs (Martin Henderson) joins the show. In season thirteen, the hospital sees a shakeup when attending sports medicine/orthopedic surgeon Eliza Minnick (Marika Dominczyk) is hired as an educational consultant to revamp the residency program. She is fired following an explosion at the hospital.
When asked how she decided to develop a medical drama, Rhimes responded:
|“||I was obsessed with the surgery channels. [...] My sisters and I would call each other up and talk about operations we'd seen on the Discovery Channel. 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.||”|
The series was pitched to ABC Entertainment, who gave the green light. The show was picked up as a mid-season replacement for Boston Legal in the 2005 television season. Francie Calfo, executive vice president of development at ABC Entertainment, commented that ABC was looking for a medical show that was unlike the others airing at the time. She pointed out that
"[m]edical shows are hard, and it was hard trying to figure out where ours could be different. But where everybody else is speeding up their medical shows, [Rhimes] found a way to slow it down, so you get to know the characters. There's definitely a strong female appeal to it."
Rhimes initially conceived Grey's Anatomy as a statement against racism. She worked to create a show featuring a racially diverse cast that allowed viewers to relate to characters regardless of race. While creating characters, as well as writing the first script, the series' writers had no character descriptions in mind, and hoped to cast the best actor available for each part. Rhimes has said that if the network had not allowed to create characters this way, she would have been hesitant about moving forward with the series. Female roles in particular were developed as multi-faceted characters.
Rhimes offered her insight on this,
"I wanted to create a world in which you felt as if you were watching very real women. Most of the women I saw on TV didn't seem like people I actually knew. They felt like ideas of what women are. They never got to be nasty or competitive or hungry or angry. They were often just the loving wife or the nice friend. But who gets to be the bitch? Who gets to be the three-dimensional woman?"
The show's title, Grey's Anatomy, was devised as a play on words: a reference to both Henry Gray's classic English medical textbook, Gray's Anatomy (first published in 1858 and still in print), and the title character Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo). Before the series debuted on March 27, 2005, a few early releases were shown to close friends and family of the producers and actors. The show was scheduled to run in the Boston Legal time slot for four weeks.
But its high ratings and viewership resulted in ABC keeping it in that slot for the remainder of the season. ABC Entertainment President, Steve McPherson, commented on the scheduling change: "Ultimately we decided that, without having adequate lead time or marketing dollars to devote to moving either show so late in the season, we'd continue to let [Grey's Anatomy] build on its tremendous momentum through May." Prior to broadcast, it was announced that the show's title would be changed from Grey's Anatomy to Complications, although this did not take place.
Grey's Anatomy is produced by ShondaLand, in association with The Mark Gordon Company, and ABC Studios (formerly Touchstone Television). Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Krista Vernoff, Mark Gordon, Rob Corn, and Mark Wilding have all served as executive producers throughout the course of the series. In subsequent seasons, Steve Mulholland, Kent Hodder, Nancy Bordson, James D. Parriott, and Peter Horton have also been executive producers, with Allan Heinberg joining the show in 2006 in this role. As of season eight, the executive producers were Rhimes, Beers, Gordon, Vernoff, Corn, Wilding, and Heinberg.
Rhimes is the series head writer, or its most prolific writer. She often promotes the show by answering fan questions on her Twitter account. Other members of the writing staff are Vernoff, Wilding, Peter Nowalk, Stacy McKee, William Harper, Zoanne Clack, Tony Phelan, Joan Rater, and Debora Cahn. From the second through seventh seasons, the writers maintained a blog entitled Grey Matter, where the writer of an episode discussed background of the writing.
Directors vary by episode, with Rob Corn directing most frequently, followed by Tom Verica. Horton, Edward Ornelas, and Jessica Yu have also directed a substantial number of episodes. Cast members Chandra Wilson and Kevin McKidd have both directed multiple episodes.
Grey's Anatomy has been edited by Susan Vaill since the show's inception, and David Greenspan was named an editor in 2006. Casting directors Linda Lowy and John Brace have been a part of the production team since 2005. Production design is led by Donald Lee Harris, assisted by art director Brian Harms, and costume design is led by Mimi Melgaard. Working alongside Melgaard, Thomas Houchins supervises costumes, Ellen Vieira is the makeup artist, and Jerilynn Stevens serves as a hair stylist. The Director of Photography is Herbert Davis. The music coordinator is Danny Lux. Karen Lisa Pike, M.D. is the on-set medical consultant, alongside Linda Klein, an RN. The production staff is part of a Grey's Anatomy softball team that competes against other television shows, such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Grey's Anatomy used a color-blind casting technique, resulting in a racially diverse ensemble. Each role was cast without the character's race being pre-determined, keeping Rhimes' vision of diversity. The production staff began casting with the program's title character, Meredith Grey, which Rhimes said was a difficult role to cast. "I kept saying we need a girl like that girl from Moonlight Mile[a]," said Rhimes, "and after a while, they were like, 'We think we can get that girl from Moonlight Mile." The next to be cast, Sandra Oh (Dr. Cristina Yang), was initially invited to audition for the character of Bailey, but pressed to read for the role of Cristina instead. Many actors read for the role of Dr. Derek Shepherd, but when Patrick Dempsey read for the part, "he was just perfect", according to Rhimes.
The only character developed with a racial description in mind was Dr. Miranda Bailey, who is portrayed by Chandra Wilson. Her character was first described as a tiny blonde with curly hair, but when Wilson began speaking, Rhimes reported: "[Wilson] is exactly who Miranda is." James Pickens Jr. was selected to appear as Dr. Richard Webber in the series' pilot and first season. Katherine Heigl wanted to portray Dr. Izzie Stevens as a brunette, but was requested to retain her natural blonde for the part. Isaiah Washington, who portrayed Dr. Preston Burke, initially read for the role of Shepherd, but was cast as Burke, because the original actor to play Burke had to withdraw. T. R. Knight signed on for the pilot as Dr. George O'Malley, expecting that the role might be short-lived, because he liked that the character was multi-faceted. Rounding out the season one cast was Justin Chambers as Dr. Alex Karev.
The second season marked the introduction of attending doctors Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) and Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez). They were initially cast as recurring characters, but both were given star billing at the opening of the third season. Ramirez was cast after ABC executives offered her a role in the network show of her choice; Dane had previously auditioned unsuccessfully for a role in the pilot episode. Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) also joined the show in season two, after making a guest appearance in season one.
In October 2006, Washington allegedly insulted Knight with a homophobic slur, during an on-set altercation with Dempsey, and ABC terminated Washington's contract at the end of the third season. Washington returned for a guest appearance in season 10. At the conclusion of the third season, Walsh departed the show to pursue the Grey's Anatomy spin-off, Private Practice, but continues to make guest appearances.
Chyler Leigh joined the cast as a main character in the fourth season as Dr. Lexie Grey, Meredith's half-sister. Leigh had appeared as a guest star in the final two episodes of the third season. On the selection of Leigh for the role of Lexie, Rhimes said: "Chyler stood out...It felt like she could be Meredith's sister, but she had a depth that was very interesting."
Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith), who first appeared on Grey's Anatomy in the second season, returned as a series regular in the fourth season. Shortly after the announcement that Smith would be a regular member of the cast, Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello, reported that her character, Hahn, would depart from Grey's Anatomy on November 6, 2008. E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos asserted that Smith's dismissal from the show had been forced by the ABC network, as part of an attempt to "de-gay" Grey's Anatomy. Rhimes countered these claims, saying that "we did not find that the magic and chemistry with Brooke's character would sustain in the long run".
Season five introduced actor Kevin McKidd (Dr. Owen Hunt), who was signed as a series regular after originally being cast for a specific story arc. In addition, Jessica Capshaw (Dr. Arizona Robbins) was originally introduced for a three-episode arc, but received a contract extension until the end of the season; and then was made a series regular in the sixth season.
Knight departed the show at the conclusion of season five, citing an unhappiness with the development and lack of screen time for his character. Directly following Knight's departure, Entertainment Weekly reported that Heigl had not returned to the set as scheduled after her maternity leave. It was later confirmed that Heigl would not return to the show at all.
Kim Raver, who was cast as recurring character Dr. Teddy Altman in the sixth season, was given star billing later in the season. Sarah Drew (Dr. April Kepner) and Jesse Williams (Dr. Jackson Avery), who both made their series debuts as recurring characters in the sixth season, and received star billing in the seventh.
The six original actors' contracts expired after season eight, but in May 2012, Pompeo, Oh, Dempsey, Chambers, Wilson, and Pickens renewed their contracts with the show for another two years. At the conclusion of the eighth season, Leigh's character Lexie Grey departed from the show at Leigh's request, and with Rhimes' agreement. Raver’s character Teddy Altman was also written out of the show during the season eight finale. Rhimes said that Raver had been offered a contract renewal, but declined.
In July 2012, Dane (Sloan) confirmed that he was departing the show to pursue other projects; he made his final appearances in the first two episodes of the ninth season. With the start of season 10, Camilla Luddington, Jerrika Hinton, Gaius Charles and Tessa Ferrer were introduced to the show as series regulars. They were first introduced to the show in season 9 as new interns. On August 13, 2013, Oh (Cristina) announced that the show's tenth season would be her final one. In March 2014 it was announced that Isaiah Washington, who portrayed Preston Burke in the first three seasons of the show, would make a guest appearance to coincide with the departure of series regular Sandra Oh, his former on-screen love interest. Neither Charles' nor Ferrer's contracts were renewed for season 11.
On May 2, 2014 it was announced that, in addition to Pompeo and Dempsey, all original remaining cast members — aside from Sandra Oh — signed two-year deals, extending their contracts through seasons 11 and 12. Despite joining the series in its second season, Sara Ramirez is on the same negotiation schedule as the first-season cast and also signed a new two-year deal.
On Wednesday, January 17, 2018, it was announced by ABC that Ellen Pompeo's contract had been renewed through season 16. Not only does the contract renewal insure that Pompeo will return as Meredith Grey, but it makes her a producer of Grey's Anatomy and a co-executive producer of Station 19. The deal will make Pompeo the highest paid actress currently on a dramatic TV series, with her making $575,000 per episode and over $20 million yearly.
Fisher Plaza, which is the headquarters building of the former Fisher Communications (since merged into Sinclair Broadcasting Group) and SBG's ABC affiliated KOMO radio and television stations in Seattle, is used for some exterior shots of Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital. In particular, air ambulances land on the KOMO-TV newscopter's helipad. This suggests the hospital is close to the Space Needle (which is directly across the street from Fisher Plaza), the Seattle Monorail, and other local landmarks.
But, the hospital used for most other exterior and a few interior shots is not in Seattle; these scenes are shot at the VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center in North Hills, California, and occasional shots from an interior walkway above the lobby show dry California mountains in the distance. The exterior of Meredith Grey's house, also known as the Intern House, is real. In the show, the address of Grey's home is 613 Harper Lane, but this is not an actual address. The physical house is located at 303 W. Comstock St., on Queen Anne Hill, Seattle, Washington. Most scenes are taped at Prospect Studios in Los Feliz, just east of Hollywood, where the Grey's Anatomy set occupies six sound stages. Some outside scenes are shot at the Warren G. Magnuson Park in Seattle. Several props used are working medical equipment, including the MRI machine.
When asked about operating room scenes, Sarah Drew offered this:
We work with Bovine organs, which is cow's organs. 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. There's also a lot of silicone and blood matter, red jello mixed with blood and chicken fat. It's pretty gross.
Costumes are used to differentiate between attending surgeons, who wear navy blue scrubs, and residents, who wear light blue scrubs. The series is filmed with a single-camera setup, as are many dramas. Grey's Anatomy is often filmed using the "walk and talk" filming technique, popularized on television by series such as St. Elsewhere, ER, and The West Wing.
Grey's Anatomy follows the lives of surgical interns and residents at the fictional Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital (formerly Seattle Grace Hospital, Season 1–6, Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital, Season 6–9, and then Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital, Season 9–present), as they gradually develop as seasoned doctors, with the help of their competent attending mentors and chief of surgery. Each installment, typically, begins with a voice-over narrative from Meredith Grey or a season regular, foreshadowing the theme of the episode. Each season tends to represent the physicians' academic year, with each completed year qualifying the residents at a level higher in the surgical field. The season will always end with a finale, typically related to a dramatic event such as a death or character departure. Most installments revolve around the doctors' everyday lives as surgeons, but the show also emphasizes their personal, rather than professional, lives. The series sets aside medical ethic concerns to focus on character development and relationships. Although the physicians treat the illnesses of their patients, often through complex surgeries, they display competitive spirit and seek praise.
After arriving at the hospital each morning, residents may argue over who gets the challenge of a certain patient who has arrived that day. A hospital superior assigns cases, often generating tension between the residents and their superiors. Within each episode are shifts from the doctors interacting with their patients, to scenes with their co-workers. Once assigned a case, each doctor diagnoses the patient, with the help of his or her attending physician, which usually leads to surgery. The surgeons tend to form personal connections with their patients, with a patient often conveying a message to his or her doctor, which unintentionally relates to the doctor's private life. The show displays the growth of relationships between the doctors, either friendly or sexual, which may produce conflicts between their personal and professional lives. Emotional scenes are often accompanied by an indie rock background song, something that has become a hallmark of the series. At the conclusion of each episode, one of the characters delivers another voice-over, typically contrasting or following up on the initial one.
|Ellen Pompeo||Meredith Grey||Main|
|Sandra Oh||Cristina Yang||Main|
|Katherine Heigl||Izzie Stevens||Main1|
|Justin Chambers||Alex Karev||Main|
|T. R. Knight||George O'Malley||Main|
|Chandra Wilson||Miranda Bailey||Main|
|James Pickens, Jr.||Richard Webber||Main|
|Isaiah Washington||Preston Burke||Main||Guest|
|Patrick Dempsey||Derek Shepherd||Main|
|Kate Walsh||Addison Montgomery||Guest||Main||Special Guest|
|Eric Dane||Mark Sloan||Guest||Main2|
|Sara Ramirez||Callie Torres||Recurring||Main|
|Brooke Smith||Erica Hahn||Recurring||Guest||Main3|
|Chyler Leigh||Lexie Grey||Guest||Main|
|Kevin McKidd||Owen Hunt||Main4|
|Jessica Capshaw||Arizona Robbins||Recurring||Main|
|Kim Raver||Teddy Altman||Main5||Recurring|
|Sarah Drew||April Kepner||Recurring||Main|
|Jesse Williams||Jackson Avery||Recurring||Main|
|Camilla Luddington||Jo Wilson||Recurring||Main|
|Gaius Charles||Shane Ross||Recurring||Main|
|Jerrika Hinton||Stephanie Edwards||Recurring||Main|
|Tessa Ferrer||Leah Murphy||Recurring||Main||Recurring|
|Caterina Scorsone||Amelia Shepherd||Guest||Special Guest||Recurring||Main|
|Kelly McCreary||Maggie Pierce||Guest||Main|
|Jason George||Benjamin Warren||Recurring||Guest||Recurring||Main|
|Giacomo Gianniotti||Andrew DeLuca||Guest||Main|
|Martin Henderson||Nathan Riggs||Main6|
* ^1 Katherine Heigl is credited as a main cast member from 1x01 to 6x18. From 6x19, she is not credited as a main cast member and does not appear.
* ^2 In Season 9, Eric Dane only appears in 9x01 and 9x02. From 9x03, he is not credited as a main cast member and does not appear.
* ^3 Brooke Smith is credited as a main cast member from 4x05 to 5x07. From 5x08, she is not credited as a main cast member and does not appear.
* ^4 In season 5, Kevin McKidd is credited as a recurring cast member from 5x01 to 5x13. From 5x14, he is credited as a main cast member.
* ^5 In season 6, Kim Raver is credited as a recurring cast member from 6x09 to 6x18. From 6x19, she is credited as a main cast member.
* ^6 In season 14, Martin Henderson only appears from 14x01 to 14x05. From 14x06, he is no longer credited as a main cast member and does not appear.
The five characters who are first introduced in the series premiere, as surgical interns, are Grey, Karev, O'Malley, Stevens, and Yang. They are initially mentored by Bailey, a senior resident who becomes the hospital's Chief Resident, and later an attending general surgeon, in season six. The surgical program is initially headed by the Chief of Surgery, Richard Webber, who has a pre-existing personal relationship with Meredith, having had an affair with her mother when Meredith was a child. In Webber's employ are attending neurosurgeon Derek Shepherd, dubbed 'McDreamy' by the residents, and attending cardiothoracic surgeon Preston Burke. Shepherd is introduced as Meredith's love interest, while Burke begins a relationship with Yang.
Introduced in the show's second season are obstetrician-gynecologist and neonatal surgeon, Addison Montgomery, plastic surgeon Mark Sloan (nicknamed 'McSteamy' by the interns), from New York, and orthopedic surgeon Callie Torres. Montgomery is Shepherd's wife who arrives in Seattle seeking reconciliation with him, Sloan is Shepherd's former best friend, who aided the breakdown of his marriage by having an affair with Montgomery, while Torres is introduced as a love-interest, and eventual wife for O'Malley. The penultimate episode of season three introduces Lexie Grey, Meredith's half-sister who unexpectedly decides to pursue her internship at Seattle Grace Hospital after her mother's sudden death, and begins an on-again, off-again relationship with Sloan. Burke and Yang, having been engaged, endeavor to plan their wedding, while Montgomery departs the show at the conclusion of the third season, relocating to California, seeking a new life. The season three finale shows Burke's exit from the show, after leaving Yang at the altar on their wedding day.
Grey, Yang, Karev, and Stevens are all promoted to residents, in the season four premiere, while O'Malley is forced to repeat his internship year, following his failing of the intern exam. Subsequently, Torres and O'Malley divorce one another, due to him having a sexual affair with Stevens, initially concealing it from Torres. Early in the fourth season, cardiothoracic surgeon Erica Hahn becomes Torres' love interest. During the fifth season, Hahn departs from the series, and O'Malley retakes his intern exam, passing, joining his fellow physicians as a resident. Two new characters are introduced, former United States Army trauma surgeon Dr. Owen Hunt, and pediatric surgeon Dr. Arizona Robbins. Hunt becomes a love-interest for Yang, while Robbins becomes a love-interest for Torres. When Stevens is diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma, she and Karev get married at the conclusion of the fifth season. In addition, Meredith and Shepherd marry, with their vows written on a post-it note.
O'Malley dies in the premiere of the sixth season, due to injuries sustained from being hit by a bus, and Stevens later departs Seattle after being diagnosed with cancer and following a lack of communication between her then husband Karev following the Seattle Grace merger with Mercy West. Several new characters are introduced as Seattle Grace Hospital merges with Mercy West. Residents April Kepner and Jackson Avery both transfer to Seattle Grace Hospital from Mercy West, and the latter entertains a brief relationship with Lexie Grey, until she reunites with Mark Sloan. Subsequently, Teddy Altman is introduced as the new Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery. In the season six finale, a deceased patient's grieving husband embarks on a shooting spree at the hospital, injuring Karev, Shepherd, and Hunt, and killing residents Charles Percy and Reed Adamson. In the shooting's emotional reverberations, Hunt and Yang abruptly marry, not wanting to risk separation. Torres and Robbins eventually wed, officiated by Bailey. In season eight, Webber steps down and allocates his job to Hunt. As the final year of residency for Meredith, Yang, Karev, Avery, and Kepner is coming to a close, the doctors are all planning to relocate to different hospitals to pursue their specialty careers. However, all plans are put on hold when several doctors from Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital are engaged in a plane crash, which kills Lexie and endangers Meredith, Shepherd, Yang, Robbins, and Sloan. At the conclusion of the eighth season, Altman is courteously fired by Hunt as she struggles to decide whether or not to take the job as Chief at the United States Army Medical Command (MEDCOM). In the season nine premiere, Sloan dies due to sustained injuries from the plane crash following a brief relapse of temporary health (the surge) and the remaining characters work through their post traumatic stress and Arizona Robbins' loss of limb by way of suing Seattle Grace Mercy West as the hospital was responsible for putting the surgeons on the plane. The season continues with the struggle of the lawsuit and the animosity that it creates within the hospital, Yang and Hunt eventually divorce in order to help the lawsuit. The doctors who were on the plane won the lawsuit, but the pay out bankrupts the hospital. They all club together and buy Seattle Grace Mercy West, with the help of the Harper Avery Foundation, and they become the Board of Directors, once being called the "Grey-Sloan 7". One of the changes they implement is renaming the hospital to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Robbins cheats on Torres with a visiting facial reconstruction surgeon. Grey's Anatomy then concluded its 10th season on ABC and saw the departure of one of its major players, Cristina Yang, played by Sandra Oh. Towards the end of the eleventh season, Derek Shepherd witnesses a car accident and pulls over to help the injured, but his car is hit by a truck with him inside as he attempts to leave the scene. He later dies at another hospital following the doctors' mishandling of his injuries. The season 12 finale saw the departure of one of the show's longest running characters, Callie Torres, played by Sara Ramirez.
With the drama's setting being a hospital, numerous medical personnel appear regularly on the show, as well as several other recurring characters. Joe (Steven W. Bailey), is first shown as the owner of the Emerald City Bar and Grill, across the street from the hospital, which is a common relaxation area for the physicians. Also introduced in the pilot, is the legendary former surgeon, Dr. Ellis Grey (Kate Burton), Meredith's Alzheimer's-stricken mother, who appeared on the show until her death in season three. In the first season, Olivia Harper (Sarah Utterback), a nurse who appeared on the show occasionally until getting laid off in the merger with Mercy West, engages in sexual activity with O'Malley, giving him syphilis. Serving as an assistant and secretary to the Chief of Surgery, former nurse Patricia (Robin Pearson Rose), has appeared on the show since its debut. Tyler Christian (Moe Irvin), a hospital nurse, makes occasional appearances throughout the series. Within the second season, Bailey becomes pregnant by her husband, Tucker Jones (Cress Williams), who makes frequent appearances on Grey's Anatomy, until their divorce in season five. While Bailey takes a sabbatical, due to her pregnancy, the cheerful Dr. Sydney Heron (Kali Rocha), fills her position as the resident supervising Grey, Yang, Karev, O'Malley, and Stevens, and makes occasional appearances until the fifth season.
Thatcher and Susan Grey (Jeff Perry and Mare Winningham), Meredith's estranged father and step-mother, are introduced in season two, with Susan making appearances until her death in season three, and Thatcher continuing to appear on the series. Adele Webber (Loretta Devine), is introduced as Richard's wife, who eventually acquires Alzheimer's, in the seventh season, and continued to make appearances until her death in season nine. Introduced as Preston's mother, Jane Burke (Diahann Carroll) makes occasional appearances until the fourth season. Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a patient suffering from congestive heart failure, originates as one of Burke's patients, who goes on to propose to Stevens, after weeks of bonding between the two. Facing death, Stevens cuts Duquette's left ventricular assist device (LVAD), to elevate his position on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) transplant list. This ultimately ends in his death, marking his initial departure from the show, and placing Stevens on disciplinary probation. Initially conceived as a veterinarian hired for Shepherd's dog, Doc, Dr. Finn Dandridge (Chris O'Donnell) soon becomes a love interest for Meredith, while Shepherd is with Montgomery. Dandridge is included in a multi-episode story arc, consisting of nine episodes, ending when Meredith reunites with Shepherd.
In season three, George's father, Harold O'Malley (George Dzundza), is diagnosed with cancer and dies, with his wife Louise (Debra Monk) and George's brothers Jerry (Greg Pitts) and Ronny (Tim Griffin) by his side. Louise goes on to appear occasionally, and was last seen in season eight. A ferryboat accident brings along Rebecca Pope (Elizabeth Reaser), who is initially introduced as a pregnant Jane Doe victim, suffering from amnesia. Pope eventually embarks on a relationship with Karev, until she is diagnosed with a personality disorder in season four, and makes her final departure. Amidst the crisis of the ferryboat crash, Meredith falls into the water at the disaster site. Although rescued, she goes into cardiac arrest, waking up in what appears to be limbo. Within the limbo, Meredith is entertained by deceased acquaintances Duquette and Dylan Young (Kyle Chandler), who was killed during a bomb crisis in the second season, until eventually being resuscitated. Seeking a cure to her depression, Meredith undergoes therapy sessions with the hospital psychiatrist, Dr. Katharine Wyatt (Amy Madigan), who in addition, serves as a psychiatrist to Hunt.
The season four premiere introduces several new interns, to be trained under Meredith, Yang, Karev, Stevens, and eventually O'Malley.[b] Among them are Dr. Steve Mostow (Mark Saul) who continues to make appearances, and Dr. Sadie Harris (Melissa George) who formed a friendship with Meredith while the two were in college. Harris is fired in the fifth season, due to not actually having a medical degree, and departs the show immediately after. Meredith and Shepherd's relationship reaches a toll, and the two separate, leading Shepherd to entertaining a relationship with Rose (Lauren Stamile), a nurse. Rose appears frequently until season five, when Derek and Meredith decide to rekindle their flame. Throughout the fifth season, Stevens experiences full-out hallucinations of Duquette, signaling that she is ill, and once she is lucid, he departs, marking his final appearance. Following the announcement of her relationship with Robbins, Callie's father Carlos Torres (Hector Elizondo) initially contests his daughter's concurrence in homosexuality, but eventually accepts it, and he reappears several times throughout the series.
The hospital's merging with Mercy West introduces new residents: Dr. Reed Adamson (Nora Zehetner) and Dr. Charles Percy (Robert Baker), but the two are both murdered in the season six finale. Also introduced in the sixth season is Dr. Ben Warren (Jason George), an anesthesiologist and eventual husband to Dr. Miranda Bailey, as well as Sloan Riley (Leven Rambin), Dr. Mark Sloan's estranged daughter who seeks kinship with him. Dr. Lucy Fields (Rachael Taylor), an obstetrician-gynecologist, is introduced in the seventh season, and serves as a love interest for Dr. Alex Karev, until eventually relocating to pursue a career in Africa. Robbins receives a grant to aid children in Malawi, which leads to a falling out between her and Torres. While in Malawi, Robbins is replaced by Dr. Robert Stark (Peter MacNicol), a pediatric surgeon with an interest in Dr. April Kepner, who appears occasionally until season eight. Following the breakdown of Dr. Torres' relationship with Dr. Robbins, Dr. Sloan and Dr. Torres unite, and she becomes pregnant. Torres' relationship with Robbins is subsequently mended, and the couple endeavors to raise their new daughter, Sofia Robbin Sloan Torres, with the help of Dr. Sloan. Shepherd and Meredith also become new parents, with their adoption of Zola, a baby girl from Malawi.[c] Conceived as a patient with a tumor condition who later develops diabetes, Henry Burton (Scott Foley) befriends Dr. Altman and eventually joins her in marriage only to get treated using her medical insurance, until he dies while undergoing heart surgery.
In the season nine premiere, interns Dr. Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington), Dr. Heather Brooks (Tina Majorino), Dr. Shane Ross (Gaius Charles), Dr. Stephanie Edwards (Jerrika Hinton), and Dr. Leah Murphy (Tessa Ferrer) are introduced. Steven Culp and William Daniels play Dr. Parker and Dr. Craig Thomas, respectively. Dr. Parker is Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Dr. Craig Thomas (William Daniels) is an attending cardiothoracic surgeon at Mayo Clinic, where Cristina worked temporarily. Dr. Alana Cahill (Constance Zimmer) introduced in the ninth season is appointed to cut costs at the hospital and she eventually decides the best course of action would be to seek out a new buyer until the four crash survivors and Torres on the behalf of Sloan to pool their money together in a bid to purchase the hospital themselves. Kepner starts dating a paramedic named Matthew (Justin Bruening) and they form a deep relationship over the course of the ninth ad tenth seasons and she eventually agreed to marry before reconciling with Avery in the middle of her wedding to Mathew. Lauren Boswell (Hilarie Burton) is introduced as a craniofacial surgeon consulting on a case at Grey Sloan Memorial who showed romantic interested in Arizona and eventually ended up having a one-night stand with her.
Dr. Heather Brooks dies in the premier of season ten. She goes to search for Dr. Webber and finds him lying in the basement of the hospital. Trying to save Dr. Webber, she accidentally steps into a puddle and electrocutes herself while hitting her head as she falls. Bailey moves a cancer patient in Webber's room to force some perspective and make him take the treatment. Also introduced in the tenth season was Dr. Karev's estranged father Jimmy Evans (James Remar) who tries to form a relationship with his son but fails repeatedly. He dies in a botched surgery. The conclusion of season 10 has Cristina leaving Grey Sloan for Dr. Burke's job as head of a hospital in Zurich, while Dr. Ross makes a last-minute decision to follow her in order to study under her. Dr. Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary) unknowingly drops a bombshell that she is the child of Dr. Webber and the late Dr. Grey, and given up at birth for adoption. Dr. Meredith Grey has to accommodate another half sister. Also, Dr. Yang privately gives her shares in the hospital to Dr. Karev, also giving him her seat on the board. But Dr. Webber all but promises the seat to Dr. Bailey, so the board has to decide between them. Introduced in season eleven is Dr. Nicole Herman (Geena Davis), who is Chief of Fetal Surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial. Dr. Herman selects Arizona Robbins in a fetal surgery fellowship and becomes her mentor. Herman plays in a twelve-episode arc before departing after episode fourteen.
Season 11 begins with new surgical residents coming to the hospital. Maggie Pierce is head of cardio, and she and her half-sister Meredith start to build a relationship, as she also does with her father Dr. Webber. Callie and Arizona's relationship falls through after they realized they want different things. April and Jackson learn that their baby has a lethal birth defect, but April decides that she will carry the baby to term. There is considerable discussion of and questioning of faith. She bears a boy, Samuel, who dies shortly after birth.
Grey's Anatomy has been well received among critics. The show holds an average of 72% positive score on Rotten Tomatoes. The A.V. Club gave an insight on both the overwhelming success and lows in the quality of the hit medical drama saying, "The quality arc for the show is all over the place, starting with a steady build in the first season, then skyrocketing into phenomenon in season two, then leveling off and dipping in season three, before having some seriously bumpy moments in seasons four (interrupted by the writers’ strike) and five. The climb begins again in season six" Samantha Highfill of Entertainment Weekly in a review wrote, "I believe the show’s best season to date is season 2. Let me make it clear that I’m not saying seasons 3 through 9 were bad. In my opinion, there have only been a few lulls in the show’s history, and most of them didn’t last a full season." adding, "I still enjoy the show, and I’ll honestly never stop watching. By any standards, Grey’s Anatomy has been successful television, ranking highly in the ratings for nine seasons and entering the cultural lexicon via phrases as cloying yet catchy as "McDreamy.", the show has had its periods of being intensely irritating, and it has had its periods when it seems as if Shonda Rhimes has taken leave of her faculties, but it’s also got an amazingly high batting average, particularly with every solid season that passes along in this second act of its run." The site lauded the show saying, "On average, it’s been very good TV, filled with interesting, driven characters who run the gamut of professions within the show’s hospital setting. It’s been, by turns, a good soap, a good romantic comedy, a good medical drama, and a good interpersonal show about an unexpected workplace family."
The first season received positive reviews which steadily built up, with Gary Levin of USA Today calling Grey's Anatomy one of the top shows on television. New York Daily News named Grey's Anatomy a "winner", whereas Newsday expressed a positive opinion by stating "You simply can't stop watching." The Washington Post's Tom Shales was critical of season one, finding it reminiscent of ER and commenting that: "The show is much more a matter of commercial calculation than an honest attempt to try something fresh and different." Shortly after its initial airing, the Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan called Grey's Anatomy the new Friends; a concluded National Broadcasting Company (NBC) sitcom following the lives of a group of young adults, that all of its ten-year run in the top-five for viewer ratings. The second season received critical acclaim, top critics like Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club called the show a "phenomenon", adding the show was, "one of the best TV shows around", Samantha Highfill of Entertainment Weekly later during the tenth season called the second "the show’s best season to date" however, Kevin Carr of 7M Pictures opined that Grey's Anatomy is a mere combination of Scrubs, ER, Sex and the City, and The Love Boat. It further garnered positive reviews, Christopher Monfette of IGN Entertainment added: "The second season of this medical drama expertly wove its signature elements of complex relationships, whimsical banter and challenging life-lessons; all to a montage-fetish, indie-rock soundtrack." Todd Gilchrist also from IGN called the season "terrific" adding, "Indeed, one of the best currently on television. While it remains to be seen what the creators do with it, now that it's become an outright event program, the season demonstrates that Rhimes and co. know what to do with the opportunities presented them. whether you're male or female, this is the kind of entertainment that small-screen devotees and folks fed up with television need to see."
The title character of Grey's Anatomy, Meredith, has received both overwhelmingly positive and weary feedback by critics along the course of the show, with the development of the character garnering praise from majority critics. Earlier reactions for Meredith were mixed; in a 2006 review, Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times dubbed to her as "the heroine of Grey's Anatomy". A reviewer for BuddyTV praised the distinct uniqueness in the character calling Meredith an "unconventional heroine" adding that the character was, "Neither black nor white but always...wait for it...many shades of grey. The reviewer and to add that even in her lighter moments, she has still been "dark and twisty." The sentiment was shared by Glenn Diaz who remarked, "You gotta love Mer when she's gloomy." When Pompeo did not receive a nomination 61st Primetime Emmy Awards, for her work as Meredith, Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times suggested that Pompeo, "has worked very hard [...] to make Meredith Grey an interesting character", and should have received a nomination. IGN's Monfette, less impressed by the character, criticized her storyline as "some bizarrely under-developed sub-plot about depression and giving Derek a season's worth of reconsidering to do." Robert Rorke of the New York Post was critical of Meredith's relationship with Derek Shepherd, writing: "She used to be the queen of the romantic dilemmas, but lately, she's been a little dopey, what with the endless 'McDreamy' soliloquies." The development of the character has received praise from critics. Reviewing the first part of the eighth season, TV Fanatic wrote: "this season belongs to Meredith Grey. She is the heart and soul of the show and has been outstanding. This is a character that used to be so dark and twisty and has now grown into a more mature woman. Ellen Pompeo has been at the top of her game this season." Rick Porter reviewing the episode How to Save a Life from the eleventh season for Zap2it wrote, "Without Meredith, and without one of Pompeo's strongest performances in her long time on the show, "How to Save a Life" would have run the risk of coming across as a baldly manipulative death episode, the likes of which the show has done several times before. He added. "How to Save a Life" may not be the ideal Emmy-submission episode for Ellen Pompeo, considering Meredith is off screen for more than half of it. But it's among the best work she's ever done on the show." Janalen Samson of BuddyTV lauded the Meredith's development throughout the series saying, "When one considers how this character has grown over eleven seasons, it really is amazing. Kudos to Ellen Pompeo for her fine work. She's actually done the impossible, because I actually care what happens to Meredith Grey." Reviewing the season 12 premiere, "Sledgehammer", critics including Alex Hawkins of the Western Gazette again highlighted Pompeo's being due for an Emmy Award.
The majority of the supporting cast of Grey's Anatomy have been well received as well, with the New York Post's Rorke deeming Stevens to be "the heart and soul" of Grey's Anatomy, whereas Eyder Peralta of the Houston Chronicle was critical of her character development, stating: "[She's] the reason I don't watch Grey's Anatomy anymore." Kelli Catana of The Huffington Post named Yang "the best damn character" and deemed "the Meredith/Yang relationship the most true friendship on network television." Television Without Pity writer Lauren Shotwell claimed Yang is "the only one of these five [residents] that regularly acts like an actual doctor". Analyzing Alex Karev, Rachel Simon called him "underrated", and she pointed out that his personal growth never seems to get acknowledged, as "Alex has evolved, slowly and realistically, into a genuinely good person whose faults don’t miraculously disappear, but take a backseat to much better qualities." Robert Bianco of USA Today said Dempsey has a "seemingly effortless way of humanizing Derek's 'dreamy' appeal with ego and vanity". His friendship with Mark Sloan has been well received. Victor Balta said "they've demonstrated an easy chemistry that makes for some of the great comic relief around Seattle Grace Hospital." Addison Montgomery was deemed "sassy and bright and interesting." TV Guide said of Walsh's stint on Grey's Anatomy that she "adds spice to an already hot show." Callie Torres, after having previously received mixed views, was praised for her bisexual storyline. Critics added that the character was anchored by stellar performances by Sara Ramirez. Lexie Grey, having initially been criticized, became a critics' favorite in the series. Keen of The Trades wrote that Chyler Leigh "does a fantastic job of making the progression feel seamless. Lexie steals the show as one of the best characters on the series."
With the departure of several cast members throughout the seasons, many new characters were added to the drama's ensemble. McKidd and Capshaw were referred to as "fresh additions" to the series, by Monfette of IGN. Matt Roush of TV Guide commented: "Hunt/McKidd is the most encouraging thing to happen to Grey's Anatomy in quite a while." Matt Mitovich of TV Guide noted that Robbins "quickly established herself as a fan favorite", describing her as "a breath of fresh air in the often angsty halls of Seattle Grace. On April Kepner and Jackson Avery Courtney Morrison of TVFanatic wrote, "April has grown since her character was introduced... she's honest. A girl with principles is a girl you want to do well." He described her and Avery as "a couple for whom viewers can root". Speaking of the new cast members, in addition to the remaining original ones, Robert Bianco from USA Today called them the show's "best ensemble in years".
Regarding season three, Bill Carter of The New York Times called Grey's Anatomy "television's hottest show", adding: "[No show] is expected to challenge Grey's Anatomy for prime-time pre-eminence." Contrasting with Carter's view, Monfette of IGN said that it speedily found itself "mired in the annoying and absurd", adding: "This third season may very well represent a case of over-writing a concept that has, perhaps tragically, run bone-dry on narrative fuel." At the conclusion of season three, Entertainment Weekly's Gregory Kirschling said "the show lacked a defining happy, warm-gooseflesh moment", adding that the season "didn't leave you dying for the [next] season premiere". Speaking of the fourth season, Laura Burrows of IGN said the series became "a little more than mediocre, but less than fantastic", adding: "This season proved that even strong chemistry and good acting cannot save a show that suffers from the inevitable recycled plot."
In contrast to the moderately negative feedback the third and fourth seasons received, Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger said of the fifth season: "Overall, it feels more like the good old days than Grey's Anatomy has in a long time." Misha Davenport from the Chicago Sun-Times said season five "hits on all the things the show does so well", adding: "There is romance, heartbreak, humor and a few moments that will move fans to tears." Brian Lowry of Variety, less impressed, opinionated that the season five displayed the show running out of storylines. Speaking of the sixth season, Bianco of USA Today wrote: "Grey's has always loved grand gestures. You like them or you don't; the only real question is whether the show pulls them off or it doesn't. This year, it did."
The series has a score of 66 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on five reviews for season seven. In response to the season, Bianco from USA Today commented: "Happily, it now seems to have landed on solid ground." Also of the seventh season, Entertainment Weekly's Jennifer Armstrong said: "It's in the shooting's emotional reverberations that the show is regenerating after the past few hit-and-miss seasons," whereas Verne Gay of Newsday commented: "Unfortunately, they've settled on far-too-easy and facile answers for the most part." HitFix gave a positive review saying that, "season 7 overall has been one of the show's strongest ever." and added, "There was a time when Grey's Anatomy was this show where I suffered through a lot of stuff that made me cringe to get to those genius melodrama moments it could do so well. Over the last couple of years, it's evolved into a show that's much more consistent in tone, where it may not move me as often as it did in the early years but also very rarely makes me question my reasons for watching."  Speaking of season eight, Entertainment Weekly's Mandi Bierly called it a "so-so season", and Lesley Goldberg of The Hollywood Reporter called it "emotional". Also acknowledging the fan base Verne Gay of Newsday wrote "Grey's has had a good season and has an intensely loyal fan base to prove it." regarding the 8th season.
The ninth season received more positive reviews, Rob Salem of Toronto Star called it "a solid return to form." Brad Williams writing for What Culture praised the show's development over the season saying, "Grey's Anatomy has developed into a fine example of how a TV show can mature beyond its initial purpose." calling it "something almost anyone can watch and enjoy." Praising the friendship between Cristina and Meredith of Entertainment Weekly wrote, "There's still one good reason to keep watching: Where else can you find such deep friendships between female co-workers". The tenth season was also marked with praise, Annie Barrett for Entertainment Weekly wrote "There's true sorrow here along with the passion, which keeps their dynamic so intriguing to me." Caroline Siede from The A.V. Club wrote in her review for the 10th season "At its best, Grey's Anatomy is about everyday bravery, sacrifice, and courage. At its worst, it's a melodramatic, moralizing soap opera. Both sides are on display as the show heads confidently into its 10th season." Many sources, including Rachel Simon of Bustle and Nicole Pomarico of Wetpaint, claimed that Sandra Oh's performance during her final season on Grey's Anatomy is worthy of an Emmy nomination.
Bryce Olin of Netflix ranked Grey's 9th among the 50 Best TV Shows on Netflix stating, "It’s a tough call, but based on Grey’s casting choices and revolutionary portrayals of female doctors in the series, I’m willing to argue that Grey’s Anatomy is the best medical drama of all time. Obviously, Shonda Rhimes didn’t reinvent the wheel with the series, but there’s no denying its popularity." adding, "I understand its significance in the pop culture sphere." He also stated that the show could go higher in the ranks with the upcoming season stating, "Apparently, Grey’s Anatomy fans are passionate about their show, although it seems like they’ve been closeted for the last few years. I’d love to move Grey’s Anatomy even higher on the ranking, but I’ll have wait until the 11th season comes to Netflix."
Critics included Grey's Anatomy in top ten lists for five of its twelve seasons; these are listed below in order of rank.
Grey's Anatomy has been considered an impact on culture by Entertainment Weekly's executive editor, Lori Majewski, with her writing: "Grey's Anatomy isn't just a show, it's a phenomenon. When [the] final shows air, every place in New York City is empty. You could get a table at the best restaurants." The Daily Beast's Jace Lacob also considered the show an impact, comparing its success to that of Friends, and calling it a "cultural phenomenon". Steve Sternberg, a media analyst with Magna Global USA explained that the show appeals to a broad audience, writing: "Roughly 80 percent of households during prime time only have one TV set on. People are looking for shows they can watch with other household members." Grey's Anatomy introduced a "mc-labeling" surge, ever since it dubbed Dempsey's character "McDreamy". Canadian newspaper the National Post considers this trend a "phenomenon". Analyzing the show's impact on culture, Dessylyn Arnold of Yahoo! Voices noted that the "mc-labeling" trend has been parodied on other shows including ER and Degrassi: The Next Generation. Mark Lawson of The Guardian has credited Grey's Anatomy with popularizing the "songtage", or musical montage segments. Parodying this, MADtv created a spoof on the show in 2006, making fun of the series' emotional scenes including those accompanied by a musical montage.
Grey's has also been credited to helping redefine "good" television; The A.V. Club writes, "Since The Sopranos burst onto the scene, we’ve too often classified a show as "good" based on how closely it adhered to the dark, violent, male-centric template set out by that particular show. It’s time for that to end. At its best, Grey’s has been among the very best shows on TV, and at its worst, it’s been at least fascinating to watch. To write it off is to unnecessarily narrow the definition of what good TV can be, to limit what the medium is capable of. TV is at its best when it emotionally connects, and even when it seems to be otherwise merrily hurtling off a cliff, Grey’s Anatomy is nothing but emotional connection, which is more than other, more consistently better shows can say." The series placed at No. 66 on Entertainment Weekly's "New TV Classics" list, and was declared the third highest rated show for the first ten years of the Internet Movie Database (2002–2012). The show's premise has inspired the creation of A Corazón Abierto, a Colombian adaptation of Grey's Anatomy, which in turn spawned a Mexican version of the same name.
A study conducted by the University of Western Sydney revealed that 94% of 400 polled medical students are regular viewers of Grey's Anatomy. An additional study conducted by Brian Quick of the University of Illinois indicated that the show's portrayal of doctors being "smart, good looking, capable, and interesting", leads viewers to associating real-world doctors to be that way. Surgical resident Karen Zink, M.D., deemed the show's portrayal of interns inaccurate, adding: "None of [the characters] have bags under their eyes. They all leave the hospital dressed cute, with their hair done and makeup on. That is so far away from the reality of interns. You are just dragging your butt, trying to stay alive. You don't have time to do your hair. You don't have time to put on makeup. Every surgical intern has bags under their eyes."
In 2011, a woman residing in Sheboygan, Wisconsin became unresponsive due to an asthma attack. Unable to wait for an ambulance, her daughter and a friend performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on her, which they learned from Grey's Anatomy. In 2017 an Israeli woman saved her husband by performing cardiac massage she learned from Grey's Anatomy, The woman performed cardiac massage for 20 minutes before medical personal arrived and transferred the husband to Shaare Zedek Medical Center. The mid-season premiere of the fourteenth season was entitled "1-800-799-7233", the National Domestic Violence Hotline; upon release on January 18, 2018, the move was received favourably and viewers variously changed their Twitter usernames to the same and used the platform to bring awareness to both the hotline and the issue of domestic abuse.
Grey's Anatomy has received high viewership and ratings since its debut. The first four seasons of the program each ranked in the top ten among all viewers, reaching its peak Nielsen ratings in the second season, attracting an average of 19.44 million viewers per episode, and ranking at fifth place overall. Following the show's time-slot being relocated, overall rankings steadily declined, dropping below the top ten in its fifth season. Grey's Anatomy made its greatest fall from its sixth to seventh season, slipping from seventeenth place to thirty-first. The series is on a steady decline in terms of overall viewership and rankings, yet Grey's Anatomy still holds value in charts when numbers are pulled from the digital video recorder (DVR). It was the most recorded show between 2007 and 2011, based on cumulative totals, and has been for several years in a row.
The most-watched episode of the series is "It's the End of the World", with 37.88 million viewers, aided by a lead-in from Super Bowl XL. Grey's Anatomy was the most expensive program on television in the 2007-08 season measured by advertising revenue, with earnings of US$400,000 per thirty seconds. The show was named the fourth (behind Desperate Housewives, Two and a Half Men, and American Idol), and the fifth-highest (behind Glee, Two and a Half Men, The X Factor (U.S.) and American Idol) revenue earning show, with the earnings of US$2.67 million and US$2.75 million per half hour in 2011 and 2012 respectively. While Grey's Anatomy is no longer ranked in the top numbers for overall ratings, the show's ranking in the key 18–49 demographic has remained high. As of season eight, the series is the highest-rated drama on television in the target demographic. In 2016, a New York Times study of the 50 TV shows with the most Facebook Likes found that Grey's Anatomy was "most popular in a swath of the middle of the country, particularly in areas with a lower percentage of college graduates".
Below is a table of Grey's Anatomy's seasonal rankings in the U.S. television market, based on average total viewers per episode. Each U.S. network television season starts in September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.
|Season||Timeslot (EST)||Number of episodes||Premiere||Finale||TV season||Overall rank||18–49 rank||Overall viewership|
Sunday 10:00 p.m.
March 27, 2005
May 22, 2005
|22.22||2004–05||No. 9||No. 5||18.46|
September 25, 2005
May 15, 2006
|22.50||2005–06||No. 5||No. 4||19.44|
Thursday 9:00 p.m.
September 21, 2006
May 17, 2007
|22.57||2006–07||No. 8||No. 3||19.17|
September 27, 2007
May 22, 2008
|18.09||2007–08||No. 10||No. 3||15.92|
September 25, 2008
May 14, 2009
|17.12||2008–09||No. 12||No. 3||14.52|
September 24, 2009
May 20, 2010
|16.13||2009–10||No. 16||No. 6||13.55|
September 23, 2010
May 19, 2011
|9.89||2010–11||No. 31||No. 9||11.41|
September 22, 2011
May 17, 2012
|11.44||2011–12||No. 32||No. 10||10.92|
September 27, 2012
May 16, 2013
|8.99||2012–13||No. 26||No. 10||11.07|
September 26, 2013
May 15, 2014
|8.92||2013–14||No. 15||No. 5||12.12|
Thursday 8:00 p.m.
September 25, 2014
May 14, 2015
|8.33||2014–15||No. 31||No. 13||11.57|
September 24, 2015
May 19, 2016
|8.19||2015–16||No. 21||No. 8||11.20|
September 22, 2016
May 18, 2017
|7.92||2016–17||No. 19||No. 9||10.88|
September 28, 2017
Grey's Anatomy has won a number of awards. As of July 2012[update], the show has been nominated for twenty-five Primetime Emmy Awards, having been nominated for at least one every year, except in 2010. At the 57th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2005, Oh was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, which she went on to be nominated for every year until 2009, and Horton was nominated for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. The following year, at the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards, the series received a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series, which they were nominated for again in 2007. Also in 2006, Wilson was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series , which she went on to be nominated for every year until 2009, and Kyle Chandler was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. The 58th Ceremony also honored Rhimes and Vernoff, who were both nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. Rhimes, whose career kicked off in 1995, has since produced yet another ABC series, Scandal, which began on air in 2012 and is continuing into the third season. Beginning in 2005, Rhimes has been continually nominated for numerous awards, including three Emmy Awards: first in 2006 for a dramatic series and a separate nomination for writing a dramatic series, followed by a third nomination in 2007 for a dramatic series.
In 2007, at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards, Heigl won the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, while Knight was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Numerous guest actresses have been nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, including Burton in 2006 and 2007, Christina Ricci in 2006, Reaser in 2007, Diahann Carroll in 2008, and Sharon Lawrence in 2009, but the only actress to have won the award is Devine in 2011, who was nominated again in 2012. The show has also been nominated for thirteen Creative Arts Emmy Awards, having won three of them: Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series, Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic), and Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie or a Special.
The show has received ten Golden Globe Award nominations since its premiere. At the 63rd Golden Globe Awards, in 2006, the series was nominated for Best Drama Series, Dempsey was nominated for Best Actor in a Drama Series, which he was nominated for again in 2007, and Oh won the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film. The following year, at the 64th Golden Globe Awards, in 2007, Pompeo was nominated for Best Actress in a Drama Series, and the show won the award for Best Drama Series. At the 65th Golden Globe Awards, in 2008, Heigl was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film, while the series in whole was nominated for Best Drama Series.
The series has won People's Choice Awards for Best Drama five times in 2007, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and has been nominated for several other People's Choice Awards, with nominations received by Oh as well as multiple wins from Dempsey, Pompeo winning in recent years 2013 and 2015, Heigl, Wilson, Demi Lovato, for guest starring, and the drama in whole for Favorite TV Drama. In 2007, Rhimes and the female cast were the recipient of the Women in Film Lucy Award, in recognition of the excellence and innovation in the show as a creative work that has enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television. The series has been honored with numerous NAACP Image Award nominations, many having been won, including five awards for Outstanding Drama Series. Grey's Anatomy has also received several Screen Actors Guild Awards, with nominations received by Dempsey, as well as wins from Oh, Wilson, and the main cast for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||9||March 27, 2005||May 22, 2005|
|2||27||September 25, 2005||May 15, 2006|
|3||25||September 21, 2006||May 17, 2007|
|4||17||September 27, 2007||May 22, 2008|
|5||24||September 25, 2008||May 14, 2009|
|6||24||September 24, 2009||May 20, 2010|
|7||22||September 23, 2010||May 19, 2011|
|8||24||September 22, 2011||May 17, 2012|
|9||24||September 27, 2012||May 16, 2013|
|10||24||September 26, 2013||May 15, 2014|
|11||25||September 25, 2014||May 14, 2015|
|12||24||September 24, 2015||May 19, 2016|
|13||24||September 22, 2016||May 18, 2017|
|14||24||September 28, 2017||May 17, 2018|
Grey's Anatomy's first season commenced airing as a mid-season replacement to Boston Legal on March 27, 2005 and concluded on May 22, 2005. The nine-episode season aired on Sundays in the 10:00pm EST time slot, following Desperate Housewives. The show was renewed by ABC for a second season, that aired in the same time slot as season one. Premiering on September 25, 2005 and concluding on May 15, 2006, the season consisted of twenty-seven episodes. The first five episodes of the second season were originally scheduled to air during the first, but the network decided to close the first season of Grey's Anatomy on the same night as Desperate Housewives' finale. During the second season, Grey's Anatomy produced two specials recapping the events of recent episodes, narrated by Bailey, entitled "Straight to the Heart" and "Under Pressure". The show was renewed for a third season, which was relocated to the coveted Thursday 9:00pm EST time slot—a slot that the series has held onto since then. Commencing on September 21, 2006 and ending on May 17, 2007, season three consisted of twenty-five episodes. Two more specials were produced during the show's third season, entitled "Complications of the Heart" and "Every Moment Counts", which were narrated by Bailey and Morgan, respectively.
ABC renewed Grey's Anatomy for a fourth season, which aired from September 27, 2007 to May 22, 2008, and ultimately consisted of seventeen episodes. The fourth season had a reduced number of episodes, due to the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike, which caused production to cease from February to April, leaving the show with no writing staff during that time. At the beginning of the fourth season, the show aired its final special entitled "Come Rain or Shine", created to transition viewers from Grey's Anatomy to Private Practice, which was narrated by the editors of People magazine. The show received a renewal for a fifth season, which premiered on September 25, 2008 and concluded on May 14, 2009, consisting of twenty-four episodes. The series was renewed for a sixth season consisting of twenty-four episodes, which commenced on September 24, 2009 and ended on May 20, 2010. During its sixth season, Grey's Anatomy aired a series of webisodes entitled Seattle Grace: On Call at ABC.com. ABC renewed the show for a seventh season, which premiered on September 23, 2010 and concluded on May 19, 2011, consisting of twenty-two episodes. This was followed up with Seattle Grace: On Call, Seattle Grace: Message of Hope, aired during the beginning of the seventh season. Also during the seventh season, the series produced a musical episode entitled "Song Beneath the Song", featuring songs that became famous through their use in Grey's Anatomy. The show received a twenty-four episode eighth season renewal, which commenced on September 22, 2011 with a two-hour episode, and ended on May 17, 2012. Grey's Anatomy was renewed for a ninth season, which premiered on September 27, 2012 and ended on May 16, 2013. Grey's Anatomy was renewed for a tenth season on May 10, 2013 and premiered on September 27, 2013 with a two-hour episode, and ended on May 15, 2014.
On May 8, 2014, ABC renewed the series for an eleventh season that aired from September 2014 to May 2015. In addition, the show was relocated to the Thursday 8:00pm EST time slot. After four seasons outside the top 25 rated shows, Grey's Anatomy was the number 15 show in the 2013–2014 season, the show's tenth. The show also re-entered the top five shows in the 18–49 viewer demographic. On May 7, 2015, ABC renewed the series for a twelfth season that premiered on September 24, 2015 and concluded on May 19, 2016. The thirteenth season to aired from 2016 to 2017.
On February 21, 2007, The Wall Street Journal reported that ABC was pursuing a spin-off medical drama television series for Grey's Anatomy featuring Walsh's character, Addison Montgomery. Subsequent reports confirmed the decision, stating that an expanded two-hour broadcast of Grey's Anatomy would serve as a backdoor pilot for the proposed spin-off. The cast of Grey's Anatomy was reportedly unhappy about the decision, as all hoped the spin-off would have been given to them. Pompeo commented that she felt, as the star, she should have been consulted, and Heigl disclosed that she had hoped for a spin-off for Stevens. The backdoor pilot that aired on May 3, 2007 sees Montgomery take a leave of absence from Seattle Grace Hospital, to visit her best friend from Los Angeles, Naomi Bennett (Merrin Dungey, later Audra McDonald), a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist. While in Los Angeles, she meets Bennett's colleagues at the Oceanside Wellness Center. The two-hour broadcast entitled "The Other Side of This Life" served as the twenty-second and twenty-third episodes of the third season, and was directed by Michael Grossman, according to Variety. The cast included Amy Brenneman, Paul Adelstein, Tim Daly, Taye Diggs, Chris Lowell, and Merrin Dungey.
KaDee Strickland's character, Charlotte King, who would be introduced in the spin-off's first-season premiere, did not appear in the backdoor pilot. Her addition to the main cast was announced on July 11, 2007, prior to the commencement of the first season. She did not have to audition for the role, but was cast after a meeting with Rhimes. Also not present in the backdoor pilot was McDonald, due to her character, Naomi Bennett, being portrayed by a different actress, Merrin Dungey. However, on June 29, 2007, ABC announced that Dungey would be replaced, with no reason given for the change. The drama was titled Private Practice, and its premiere episode followed the second part of the season debut of Dancing with the Stars, and provided a lead-in to fellow freshman series Dirty Sexy Money. Pushing Daisies, a third new series for the evening, rounded out the lineup as a lead-in to Private Practice. The series ended its run in January 2013 after six seasons.
Grey's Anatomy had five crossover storylines with Private Practice.
There have also been several instances where Addison or Amelia travel to Seattle without there being a storyline involving both shows.
On May 16, 2017, Channing Dungey announced at the ABC Upfronts that the network ordered another Grey's Anatomy spin-off, this one focusing on firefighters in Seattle. The series is set to premiere mid-season in 2018. Stacy McKee, long-term Grey's writer and executive producer, will serve as the spin-off's showrunner. The new show was introduced Season 14, Episode 13, when a house fire brings the firefighters to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. In July 2017, it was announced that Jaina Lee Ortiz was the first actress cast in the spin-off series. In September 2017 it was announced that Jason George, who has played Dr. Ben Warren since season 6, would be leaving Grey's Anatomy to move to the spin-off. He's expected to be a series regular on Grey's Anatomy until the spin-off begins production. In October 2017 it was announced that five new series regulars for the spin off had been cast being Grey Damon, Jay Hayden, Okieriete Onaodowan, Danielle Savre and Barrett Doss. It was also announced that the spin-off had a 10 episode order for the first season. Later in October 2017, it was announced that Miguel Sandoval was cast as the Captain of the firehouse.
On January 9, 2018, it was announced by Sarah Drew on her Instagram page that a six-episode spin-off series following the new interns of Grey Sloan Memorial would be released for streaming on the ABC app and abc.com on Thursday, January 11, 2018. Grey’s Anatomy: B-Team stars Sophia Taylor Ali (Dahlia Qadri), Jake Borelli (Levi Schmitt), Alex Blue Davis (Casey Parker), Jaicy Elliot (Taryn Helm), Rushi Kota (Vik Roy) and Jeanine Mason (Samantha "Sam" Bello) with special guest appearances made by Justin Chambers (Alex Karev), Kelly McCreary (Maggie Pierce), Kevin McKidd (Owen Hunt) and James Pickens Jr. (Richard Webber). The six episodes in this series were written by Barbra Kaye Friend with Grey's Anatomy series regular Sarah Drew (April Kepner) making her directorial debut directing each of them.
Grey's Anatomy episodes appear regularly on ABC in the United States. All episodes are approximately forty-three minutes, and are broadcast in both high-definition and standard. The series' episodes are also available for download at the iTunes Store in standard and high-definition qualities, and Amazon Video. ABC Video on demand also releases recent episodes of the show for temporary viewing. Recent episodes are also available at ABC's official Grey's Anatomy website, and on Hulu and Xfinity. In 2009, ABC signed a deal allowing Grey's Anatomy episodes to be streamed on Netflix. Grey's Anatomy is syndicated on Lifetime, with one hour blocks weekdays at 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm EST.
Since its debut, Buena Vista Home Entertainment has released the first eight seasons on DVD to regions 1, 2, and 4. The first season's DVD, released on February 14, 2006, features an alternate title sequence, bloopers, behind-the-scenes footage, audio commentaries, and an extended edition of the pilot episode. Season two's DVD, released on September 12, 2006, which includes extended episodes, an interview with Wilson, deleted scenes, a set tour, a "Q&A" with the cast, and a segment on the creating of special effects. The DVD for the third season was released on September 11, 2007, with bonus features including extended episodes, an interview with star Dempsey, audio commentaries, and bloopers.
The fourth season's DVD released on September 9, 2008, features an interview with Heigl and Chambers, extended episodes, bloopers, and deleted scenes. Season five's DVD was released on September 15, 2009, and includes unaired scenes, bloopers, and extended episodes. The DVD for season six, released on September 14, 2010, features deleted scenes, an extended finale, and bloopers. The seventh season's DVD, released on September 13, 2011, includes an extended edition of and a behind-the-scenes featurette on the musical episode, bloopers, as well as deleted scenes. In addition, the eighth season's DVD was released on September 4, 2012 with several bonus features and deleted scenes.
The ninth season's DVD released on August 27, 2013 with several bonus features and deleted scenes. The tenth season's DVD was released on September 2, 2014 with new several bonus features and deleted scenes. The season was officially released on DVD as a six-disc boxset under the title of Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Tenth Season – Live For The Moments on September 2, 2014. In view of the departure of the character of Cristina Yang in the season finale, the DVD set featured an extended episode Do You Know? and a special feature from Sandra Oh titled "An Immeasurable Gift". The eleventh released on DVD as a six-disc box set on August 18, 2015 with interviews with new series regular Caterina Scorsone and a special feature for Dempsey's departure, "How To Say Goodbye Dr. Derek Shepherd". The twelfth released on DVD as a six-disc box set on August 30, 2016.
The American Broadcasting Company has partnered with J Larson CafePress and Barco Uniforms to provide the series' branded merchandise through an online store. The products available include shirts, sweatshirts, kitchen-ware, home-ware, and bags, with the Grey's Anatomy logo on it.[e] Also available are custom unisex scrubs and lab coats in a variety of colors and sizes, designed by Barco. The merchandise released by the company is available for purchase at the Grey's Anatomy official website, and US$1 from every purchase is donated to Barco's Nightingales Foundation.
Five volumes of the Grey's Anatomy Original Soundtrack have been released as of 2011. For the first two seasons, the show's main title theme was an excerpt from "Cosy in the Rocket", by British duo Psapp; it is featured on the first soundtrack album released via ABC's corporate cousin, Hollywood Records, on September 27, 2005. The second soundtrack, featuring songs from the series' second season, was released on September 12, 2006, followed by a third soundtrack with music from the third season. Following the seventh season musical episode "Song Beneath the Song", "Grey's Anatomy: The Music Event" soundtrack was released, with volume four of the soundtrack released subsequently.
In January 2009, Ubisoft announced that it had signed a licensing agreement with ABC Studios to develop a video game based on Grey's Anatomy. Designed for the Wii, Nintendo DS, and PC, Grey's Anatomy: The Video Game was released on March 10, 2009. The game lets the player assume the role of one of the main characters, making decisions for the character's personal and professional life, and competing in a number of minigames. It has been criticized by reviewers because of the simplicity of the mini-games and voice actors who do not play the same characters on the series, with Jason Ocampo of IGN giving it a 6.0/10 overall rating. The Wii release received mixed reviews, and the Windows release received generally unfavorable reviews.
ABC and Nielsen partnered in 2011 to create a Grey's Anatomy application for Apple's iPad. The application was designed to allow viewers to participate in polls and learn trivial facts as they watch a live episode. It uses Nielsen's Media-Sync software to listen for the episode and to post features as the episode progresses.
The creators of the show set up a real online wedding registry to mark the wedding of Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd. Instead of buying gifts fans were encouraged to donate money to the American Academy of Neurology Foundation.
An adaptation named as Doktorlar ("Doctors") was aired on December 28, 2006, in a Turkish Network, Show TV, and it lasted four seasons.
Super Bowl lead-out program