‘ Grey’s Anatomy’ hits milestone 300th episode
Ellen Pompeo ( Meredith Grey) describes show as a “love letter to the original cast.”
Grey’s Anatomy is the secondlongest commitment of Ellen Pompeo’s life, second only to her relationship with husband Chris Ivery, whom she started dating 17 years ago.
And both hit major milestones Thursday: Her ABC medical soap — now in its 14th season — marks its 300th episode ( 8 ET/ PT) the same day as their 10th wedding anniversary.
“A commitment- phobe is something no one could call me,” says Pompeo, who turns 48 Friday. Pompeo plays dark and twisty surgeon Meredith Grey, the brainchild of creator Shonda Rhimes, who announced this summer that she’ll be partnering with Netflix for future projects.
Pompeo describes the 300th episode as a “love letter to the original cast,” of which only three other members remain from the diverse lineup that made the 2005 midseason replacement an instant hit: Chandra Wilson, Justin Chambers and James Pickens Jr.
Along the way, the actors who played her fellow Seattle Grace interns — Katherine Heigl, T. R. Knight and Sandra Oh — left the show, sometimes in tabloid- ready fashion. Ditto for Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey, who played supervisors and love interests to Pompeo and Oh’s characters, and were written out after their personal issues spilled over into work.
But only one departure rattled Pompeo: That of Oh, who played Meredith’s best friend, Cristina Yang. The cutthroat cardiothoracic surgeon took a job in Switzerland in the Season 10 finale.
“I really worried when Sandra Oh left,” she says. “She was such a big part of the show. When the show didn’t suffer when she left, then I wasn’t worried when Patrick left ( in Season 11). I thought, if nothing happened when Sandra left, then I think we’re OK.”
ABC Entertainment chief Channing Dungey says the show weathered multiple cast changes thanks to the producer’s steady hand.
“She and her writing staff have never been afraid to push boundaries — they take risks and the audience follows. Fourteen seasons later, Shonda’s passion for these characters and her investment in this world is as strong as it’s ever been, and that keeps the storytelling fresh.”
It helps that the show takes place in the high- stakes, life- or- death environment of a hospital. Grey’s has seen its share of epic disasters, beginning with its 2006 Super Bowl episode, in which Meredith kept a bomb from exploding in a patient’s abdominal cavity.
“There is nothing like a large- scale disaster to test our characters and really amp up the stakes,” says Beers.
Beers credits the Super Bowl episode with exposing “the show to a wide audience, some of whom then became hooked.”
Bombs, plane crashes and love triangles aside, Pompeo is proud of what her “silly little medical soap” has accomplished.