Grey’s Anatomy is coming back for its 18th season. Over the years, the long-running ABC medical drama series has seen many beloved characters come and go. While doctors Meredith Grey, Miranda Bailey, Richard Webber, Owen Hunt and Amelia Shepherd have managed to stick around (despite some incredibly wild circumstances) other characters have not been so lucky. But the actors who play them are!
While Mark Sloan, Derek Shepherd and Lexie Grey met terrible ends, the actors who brought these characters to life have been thriving. Former Grey’s Anatomy leads have gone on to star in some of your favorite streaming and award-winning shows. While we’ll probably never get over the death of George O’Malley or the departure of Grey’s Anatomy’s first-ever openly bisexual character, Callie Torres, you’ve got to see what they’re up to now. Check out these iconic Grey’s Anatomy stars then and now.
Ellen Pompeo Then
The actress began playing “dark and twisty” Dr. Meredith Grey in 2005.
Before that, she appeared in the films Catch Me If You Can, Old School and Daredevil.
Ellen Pompeo Now
The real-life mom of three has been playing Dr. Grey on the Shondaland medical drama for 17 seasons.
In 2021, it was announced that the series was renewed for its 18th season. Both ABC and Grey's creator Shonda Rhimes have previously said that the show will end when Pompeo exits. In making such a massive decision, Pompeo said that she and the others involved are asking themselves, "What story do we tell? To end a show this iconic, how do we do it?"
Sandra Oh Then
No one other than Oh could have played the whip-smart, fearless and secretly tenderhearted best friend of Meredith Grey, Dr. Cristina Yang.
But before she donned her TV scrubs, the dynamic actress had roles in The Princess Diaries, Under the Tuscan Sun and Sideways.
Sandra Oh Now
Oh left the series after 10 seasons. Since then, she has co-hosted the Golden Globes, won a Golden Globe for her performance as Eve Polastri on the BBC America series Killing Eve and has been nominated for three Emmys.
In 2021, the actress revealed she has no plans to ever return to the long-running medical drama series. On the premiere episode of the Los Angeles Times' Asian Enough podcast, Oh said "in some ways, you do your work as a bubble and you let it go. I left that show, my God, seven years ago almost. So in my mind, it’s gone. But for a lot of people, it’s still very much alive. And while I understand and I love it, I have moved on."
Sara Ramirez Then
Ramirez made their Grey’s Anatomy debut as Dr. Callie Torres in Season 2. Dr. Torres was the show's first-ever openly bisexual main character.
Before the actor’s role on the medical show, Ramirez appeared in the film You’ve Got Mail and won a Tony Award in 2005 for their “Lady of the Lake” role in Spamalot.
Sara Ramirez Now
Ramirez announced their decision to leave the show following the Season 12 finale. In Ramirez's final episode, Callie and her ex, Arizona, agreed that they would co-parent their daughter together. “I’m deeply grateful to have spent the last 10 years with my family at Grey’s Anatomy & ABC but for now, I’m taking some welcome time off,” Ramirez wrote in a note in 2016. “Shonda been so incredible to work for, & we will definitely continue our conversations!”
In 2020, the star came out as nonbinary and announced that they use she/her and they/them pronouns. In 2021, it was revealed that Ramirez will join the cast of the Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That.
Patrick Dempsey Then
With his swooping dark hair and swoon-worthy smile, Dempsey lived up to his character Derek Shepherd’s moniker, McDreamy.
Before Grey’s Anatomy, Dempsey was a teen star. The actor played the lead in the ‘80s rom-com Can’t Buy Me Love and was Mike Damone on the TV series Fast Times.
Patrick Dempsey Now
Fans will recall that Mr. Meredith Grey was dramatically killed off in a Season 11 episode. "After 11 seasons on Grey’s Anatomy, Dempsey is moving on to pursue other interests. Dr. Derek Shepherd is an iconic character and we’ve been proud to be the home of 'McDreamy' and the 'Mer/Der' love story," ABC said in a statement.
But that wasn’t the last of McDreamy! Dempsey reprised his role for the season 17 premiere.
In 2021, the actor announced that he will be reprising another one of his beloved roles. Dempsey is set to appear in Disenchanted, the sequel to his 2007 Disney hit, Enchanted, alongside Amy Adams.
Katherine Heigl Then
Heigl spent six dramatic seasons on Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Izzie Stevens. During her run on the series, she was bullied for her modeling career by a fellow doctor, fell in love with a dying man and her character was diagnosed with cancer.
Before Grey’s Anatomy, the actress was the lead in the Disney Channel Original Wish Upon a Star. She also had a role on the TV series Roswell.
Katherine Heigl Now
The Firefly Lane star returned to Grey’s Anatomy in 2020… sort of.
In a Season 16 episode, Grey's stunned viewers when it was revealed via a letter from Izzie’s long-time flame, Alex Karev, to his friends, that he had abandoned Seattle to reunite with Izzie. The couple was finally happy together, raising their two young twins on a horse farm in Kansas.
Justin Chambers Then
Chambers played Alex Karev for 16 seasons on the medical drama show.
Before his role on Grey’s Anatomy, the actor had roles on the TV series Another World, Four Corners and Cold Case.
Justin Chambers Now
After playing Dr. Karev for more than a decade, Chambers left the series. "There's no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that's defined so much of my life for the past 15 years," the actor said in a statement to ET.
"For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices. And, as I turn 50 and am blessed with my remarkable, supportive wife and five wonderful children, now is that time."
He is currently listed as not having any upcoming projects.
T. R. Knight Then
Knight played Dr. George O'Malley, the adorable roommate of Meredith Grey and Izzie Stevens and the foil to Cristina Yang.
Before playing the Grey’s doctor, Knight had roles on Charlie Lawrence, Frasier and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
T. R. Knight Now
Knight’s character seemed to all but disappear from the series, only to return as a John Doe who could do little more than draw “007” (George’s nickname) into Meredith’s hand before dying.
Since his time on the medical drama, Knight has had recurring roles on The Good Wife, The Bravest Knight and The Flight Attendant.
In 2020, Grey’s Anatomy brought O’Malley back to life for one more episode. "What I loved about what [the writers] did with George...” the actor said in an interview about the episode, “was Meredith is having this vision, for lack of a better word, of who George would be … Meredith is seeing the best of George: She’s seeing his humor, his kindness, his generosity and in this brief moment that you get to see him, it’s such a great way to remember him.”
Chandra Wilson Then
Wilson has played Dr. Miranda Bailey since the show’s beginning in 2005.
Before running Seattle Grace and all of the hospital’s iterations before landing on the name Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, Wilson had roles on The Cosby Show, Bob Patterson and she played a police officer on an episode of Sex and the City.
Chandra Wilson Now
Wilson is slated to appear in Season 18 of the medical drama series.
The actress has brought her no-nonsense character, who has survived every possible medical and personal scenario possible, to the Shondaland series Private Practice and Station 19.
James Pickens Jr. Then
Meredith’s main father figure and former hospital chief, Dr. Richard Webber, has been played by Pickens since the series began in 2005.
Pickens’ previous TV credits include Another World, Beverly Hills, 90210, Roseanne and NYPD Blue.
James Pickens Jr. Now
Now that Chief (as he’s affectionately called) has dodged an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, his plotline is free to continue on. Pickens has signed on for Season 18 of the ABC series. T
he actor is also reprising his Roseanne character, Chuck Mitchell, for the show’s reboot series, The Conners.
Isaiah Washington Then
Washington played Seattle Grace's head of cardiothoracic surgery, Dr. Preston Burke.
Washington left the series after Season 3.
Isaiah Washington Now
The actor had a rocky departure from the medical drama. In 2020, he reignited his feud with former co-star Katherine Heigl.
Washington currently stars on the series P-Valley.
Kate Walsh Then
Before Addison Rae, Dr. Addison Montgomery was the original baddie named Addie.
The redhead played McDreamy’s ex-wife and Meredith Grey’s rival for eight seasons on the medical drama. Walsh’s character was brought over to the Shondaland spinoff series Private Practice for a six season run.
Kate Walsh Now
After the Shondaland shows, Walsh had roles on Fargo, Bad Judge and 13 Reasons Why.
In 2020, she was a lead on the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy. In 2021, she starred in the romantic film Sometime Other Than Now.
Eric Dane Then
The world was introduced to “McSteamy” on Season 2 of Grey’s Anatomy. Dane played flirtatious Mark Sloan, Dr. Derek Shepherd’s best friend.
His character went on to have a baby with Dr. Callie Torres and a romance with Meredith Grey’s little sister, Dr. Lexie Grey, before dying tragically from the wounds he sustained after a plane crash.
Eric Dane Now
Dane currently has a role on the HBO series Euphoria.
In 2021, he reprised his McSteamy role for an episode of Grey’s. During the episode, Meredith asks whether Mark and Lexie are still together in the afterlife. "On your beach looks like we are," Mark says. Sounds like Slexie shippers can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Chyler Leigh Then
Leigh joined the Grey’s Anatomy cast in Season 3. She played Dr. Lexie Grey, the half-sister Meredith Grey never knew about.
Prior to her time on Grey’s, Leigh had acted in 7th Heaven, Not Another Teen Movie and The Practice.
Chyler Leigh Now
Lexie died in the Season 8 plane crash that would later claim the life of Dr. Mark Sloan.
Leigh now plays Alex Danvers on the TV series Supergirl.
Kevin McKidd Then
McKidd joined the medical drama cast in Season 5 as Dr. Owen Hunt.
The Scottish-born actor had a role in the film Trainspotting and had a successful UK TV career before joining the American TV series.
Kevin McKidd Now
McKidd is still playing Dr. Hunt. His character has been romantically involved with Dr. Yang, Dr. Teddy Altman and Dr. Amelia Shepherd.
His character has also appeared on the Shondaland show Station 19.
Jessica Capshaw Then
Capshaw joined Grey’s in 2005 as the ever-optimistic pediatric surgeon Dr. Arizona Robbins.
Before her time on the series, Capshaw appeared on Odd Man Out and The Practice.
Jessica Capshaw Now
After her character survived a car accident, a plane crash that resulted in her leg being amputated and the breakup of her relationship with Dr. Callie Torres, Capshaw left the medical series in 2018.
Capshaw and her castmate, Sarah Drew, left the series around the same time. "I will never stop being grateful for the chance to work with @sarahdrew and @JessicaCapshaw," show creator Shonda Rhimes wrote in a tweet after it was announced that the actresses were leaving the hit series. "In April and Arizona, they created powerful unforgettable characters."
Sarah Drew Then
Drew began playing try-hard April Kepner in Season 6.
Kepner started at Grey Sloan Memorial as a Mercy West Medical Center resident, who was forced to join the (then Seattle Grace) staff after the hospitals merged.
Sarah Drew Now
Kim Raver Then
Raver’s character, Dr. Teddy Altman, joined the cast in Season 6. Dr. Altman was one of the big reasons doctors Owen Hunt and Cristina Yang split.
Before Grey’s, the actress had roles on Trinity, 24, The Nine and Lipstick Jungle.
Kim Raver Now
The actress is still playing the complicated and seemingly always in a love triangle Dr. Altman.
“I am hopeful for Teddy. She has a long journey to gain forgiveness and I hope that we get to see that,” Raver said in an interview.
Jesse Williams Then
Williams played Dr. Jackson Avery, a handsome young doctor who joined the series in season 6, when Grey Sloan Memorial (then Seattle Grace) and Mercy West Medical Centers merged.
Before the medical drama, Williams had roles in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Greek and Beyond the Break.
Jesse Williams Now
Williams’ character became a fan favorite thanks to his relationship with Dr. April Kepner. Japril fans were devastated to see Jackson Avery leave the series following Season 17.
When asked if he thought the hit medical drama would end during the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams said, “I think the show is too important to go out without a damn parade.”
Camilla Luddington Then
Luddington joined the cast of Grey’s in season 9 as Jo Wilson.
The British-born actress worked on Californication and True Blood before joining the medical drama series.
Camilla Luddington Now
The actress is still playing Dr. Wilson on the hit Shondaland series.
In 2020, Luddington gave birth to her second child.
Jerrika Hinton Then
Hinton began playing Dr. Stephanie Edwards in 2012.
Before Grey’s, the actress had roles on Scandal, Gossip Girl and Zoey 101.
Jerrika Hinton Now
Hinton left Grey’s in 2017. Her character suffered burns from an explosion and left Grey Sloan Memorial to travel the world.
"I really love work that engages with the world," Hinton told ET in 2018. "I believe that our entertainment shapes us and we shape our entertainment, and that ongoing dialogue is a fact of nature.”
The actress is now on M. Night Shyamalan’s Apple TV+ drama, Servant.
Caterina Scorsone Then
Scorsone plays McDreamy's younger sister, Dr. Amelia Shepherd. The talented doctor with a troubled past first appeared on Grey’s in season 3.
She later became a series regular in season 11.
Caterina Scorsone Now
The actress is still starring on the medical drama series.
“It's Amelia's strength that, despite all that trauma and broken attachment, she was able to overcome and go to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous),” Scorsone told ET about her character. “[She was able to] create relationships and go to med school and start getting back to medicine and have friendships.”
Chris Carmack Then
Before he was Dr. Atticus Lincoln, Carmack played Luke Ward on The O.C.
The actor is also a singer and has shown off his chops on Nashville and in various theater productions including Into the Woods.
Chris Carmack Now
Carmack is still acting on Grey’s Anatomy.
He also makes music with his IRL wife, Erin Slaver, under the name Life on Eris.
Kelly McCreary Then
Fans were shocked by the season 10 revelation that McCreary’s character, Dr. Maggie Pierce, is Meredith Grey’s half-sister.
Pierce is the biological daughter of Dr. Richard Webber and Ellis Grey.
Kelly McCreary Now
McCreary is still starring on the medical drama.
The actress got married in 2019.
Giacomo Gianniotti Then
Gianniotti joined the show in season 11 as Dr. Andrew DeLuca.
The actor has also appeared on Reign, Murdoch Mysteries and Selfie.
Giacomo Gianniotti Now
Tragically, Dr. Andrew DeLuca was stabbed to death in a 2021 episode.
"I'm more than satisfied," Gianniotti told ET in an exclusive interview of DeLuca's heartbreaking death. "I really don't see how they could have done more for DeLuca or explained more with DeLuca... He's always been plagued, if you will, about doing the right thing at all costs. Unfortunately it cost him his life, but looking back, he doesn't regret it."
Greg Germann Then
Germann began playing neurosurgeon Dr. Thomas Koracick in 2017.
Before joining Grey’s, he had roles on Once Upon a Time and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Greg Germann Now
Dr. Koracick left the series in 2021, but according to producers, that doesn’t mean it’s the last we’ve seen of him.
"Greg Germann is a comic genius and we are so lucky that he brought his talents to our show these last few years," showrunner/executive producer Krista Vernoff said in a statement to ET. "We will miss Greg terribly in the day to day -- but we plan to see Tom Koracick again!"
Jake Borelli Then
Borelli joined Grey’s in 2017 as Dr. Levi Schmitt.
He was previously on iCarly, Parenthood and True Jackson, VP.
Jake Borelli Now
The actor is still playing the lovably nerdy doctor on the medical drama series.
Dr. Levi Schmitt and Dr. Nico Kim (Alex Landi) are the first openly gay male doctor couple on the series. “Growing up gay in Ohio, I craved seeing gay storylines on television. I craved seeing things that reflected who I was at the time. It’s mind-blowing that I get to play the story that I would’ve craved to see when I was younger,” the actor told ET.