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Can you believe it? “Grey’s Anatomy” aired its 300th episode in November. Next year it will become the longest running medical drama on American television, following “ER,” which lasted for 331 episodes and 15 seasons.
If you’ve been with “Grey’s” since the beginning like I have, you may think you know there is everything to know about Seattle Grace Hospital and its staff. But it turns out there are a ton of juicy behind-the-scenes secrets! Here are 12 facts every “Grey’s” super-fan should know:
1. It Was Supposed To Be Set In Chicago
Do you think you would like “Grey’s Anatomy” better if it took place in the Windy City? That was creator Shonda Rhimes’ original vision. But the Chicago native realized that “ER” was also set there, so she changed the location of her show to Seattle to keep it unique, according to Elle.
2. Rob Lowe Turned Down A Role
Rob Lowe was the producers’ first choice for the role of Derek Shepherd, a.k.a. McDreamy. When Lowe read the script, he loved it, but he had already signed on to do a show called “Dr. Vegas” on CBS. He decided to stick with CBS because ABC had experienced a previous series of flops, and he was afraid “Grey’s” would share the same fate.
Ironically, it was “Dr. Vegas” that ended up being canceled right away …and “Grey’s” is still going fast and furious! Patrick Dempsey ended up being the lucky actor cast for the McDreamy role.
3. The Writers Found A Clever Way To Hide Meredith’s Belly
When Ellen Pompeo got pregnant in season six, the crew had to get very clever when it came to hiding her growing bump. They did so by shooting her mainly from neck up. But once her size got too large to hide, the writers gave her a storyline in which she donated part of her liver to her estranged dad, according to the New York Post. This gave her some bedrest both on the show and off, as it eventually gave her time off for her maternity leave. Smart!
4. The Lockers’ Contents Are True To Each Character
There is a reason why “Grey’s Anatomy” has such a realistic feel. Even down to the smallest details, Rhimes made sure that the set was impeccably authentic. For example, before season one began, she stocked each of the resident’s lockers with items she thought would be most appropriate to the character: George’s locker had several alarm clocks and research books, Cristina’s locker had condoms and high heels, and Meredith’s locker had stacks of unfinished Christmas cards.
5. Derek Was Supposed To Be A Father
In Rhimes’ original plan for the show, Derek was going to have a teenage daughter with whom he had a contentious relationship. In fact, this daughter would be the motivation for Derek taking the job in Seattle in the first place, as the job would be a chance for him to help regain her trust and make up for past mistakes.
6. Rhimes Regrets Only One Character’s Death
Over the years, numerous doctors and countless patients have died at Seattle Grace. But creator Rhimes said that she only regrets one patient’s death: Kyle Chandler, the man who died when a bomb exploded in his stomach.
She told Entertainment Weekly, “I did not expect to have Kyle Chandler. I didn’t want to explode him.” LOL! Who would? Luckily, he went on to a fantastic career starring in “Friday Night Lights.”
7. Playing A Lesbian Changed One Actress’ Life
Jessica Capshaw, who plays Arizona on the show, said the role changed her life, and that it has been an incredible tool in teaching equality even within her own family. She told Yahoo Style her daughter set the record straight at her preschool when a child said families only have a mommy or daddy.
Instead, Capshaw’s daughter corrected the other child, saying, “There can be a mom and a mom and a dad and a mom and there can be a dad and a dad.” Looks like “Grey’s” diverse cast is inspiring even when it comes to the messages the actors take home to their families.
8. Katherine Heigl Sought Therapy After Leaving The Show
Even those who don’t watch “Grey’s Anatomy” are well aware of Katherine Heigl’s “embarrassing” departure from the show, which happened in part because she was allegedly difficult to work with, including her refusal to accept an Emmy nomination for her work on the program.
In fact, the media brouhaha which followed after Heigl’s exit actually led the actor to seek therapy. She told Howard Stern, “I was really struggling with it and how to not take it all personally and not to feel that there’s something really deeply wrong with me.”
9. Isaiah Washington Shadowed Actual Doctors
Prior to his departure from “Grey’s Anatomy,” Isaiah Washington took his role so seriously that he would actually learn how to do the surgeries his character was performing before he went on set.
Rhimes told O, The Oprah Magazine that he even took shifts at local hospitals and shadowed doctors throughout their days and nights. “Scarily enough, I think if he stopped at an accident on the street, he’d know exactly what to do,” she said.
10. Fan Favorite Dr. Avery Used To Be A Teacher
Before getting his big break, Jesse Williams (a.k.a. Dr. Avery) actually used to be a high school teacher! He taught American Studies, English and African Studies for six years at a public school in Philadelphia.
Luckily for us, he moved to Hollywood and soon after got cast in “Grey’s Anatomy.”
11. Alex Was Added Later
Interestingly, Shonda Rhimes didn’t have Dr. Alex Karev, played by Justin Chambers, in her original pitch for the show. He was added in after the pilot was already shot. But now he is one of the most iconic characters on the program.
12. It Was Supposed To Be Called “Surgeons”
Can you imagine if “Grey’s Anatomy” was named “Surgeons”? It just doesn’t have the same appeal! Fortunately, the original name was scrapped and the clever “Grey’s Anatomy” title was decided upon — which is a pun on Meredith Grey’s last name as well as Gray’s Anatomy, the famous medical textbook.