Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo might end up as the last woman standing. The long-running medical show has weathered almost us much off-screen drama as the characters themselves. How many of these dramatic exits do you remember?
Even though Pompeo says she has no ill will toward her former costar, it’s an open secret that Dempsey’s on-set behavior caused showrunner Shonda Rhimes to write him off the series. And he didn’t just go to another hospital or a nice farm upstate; no, McDreamy died in a car wreck.
On not speaking to Dempsey after his exit, Pompeo explained: “Typically when people leave the show, they need to sort of re-find themselves, who they are, without the show, because the show takes up so much of your life.”
However, there were rumblings that Pompeo was frustrated about the pay gap between her and Dempsey. Although she’s the title character, Pompeo reportedly made less than her male costar.
She wanted to negotiate their contracts together so that Dempsey could no longer be used as leverage against her–network execs are rumored to have told her that the show could easily go on with Dempsey as the lead. Ultimately, he was written off and she ended up as the highest-paid actress on TV.
The very first Grey’s Anatomy off-screen scandal–at least that we know about—involved Isaiah Washington, Patrick Dempsey, Katherine Heigl, and TR Knight. Crazy to think they they all ended up getting written off the show, right?
The short version of this story is that during an on-set fight with Dempsey, Washington used a homophobic slur. Costars Heigl and Knight heard him, and the incident made it into the news as Washington denied the incident. Ultimately, Washington left the show at the end of season 3, claiming that the set was a hostile place to work.
After winning an Emmy the year before, Katherine Heigl withdrew her name from contention for the 2018 awards. She felt that she hadn’t been given decent material to work with. (Heigl made similar statements about her starring role in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, so do with that what you will.)
Shonda Rhimes claims that Izzie’s subsequent storylines–including the infamous ghost sex–had nothing to do with Heigl’s public complaints about the writers. She left the show at the end of the 6th season, but the drama continued. Her former costars and Rhimes herself had no problem dragging Heigl through the mud.
In 2014, Rhimes told The Hollywood Reporter: “I don’t put up with bulls—t or nasty people. I don’t have time for it.” It seems as though actors who have rumored clashes with her–including TR Knight, who left the show in 2009–get killed off on Grey’s Anatomy.