13 largest controversies that occurred behind the scenes of ‘Gray’s Anatomy’

Frank Ockenfels/Richard Cartwright/Bryan Bedder/Getty Pictures; Rachel Mendelson/Insider

  • The pilot episode of “Gray’s Anatomy” aired on March 27, 2005.

  • The medical present made historical past on-screen but in addition garnered headlines for behind-the-scenes drama.

  • We have rounded up essentially the most distinguished controversies from 2005 to 2022.

Isaiah Washington reportedly used a homophobic slur to discuss with costar T.R. Knight.

Patrick Dempsey Isaiah Washington

Patrick Dempsey and Isaiah Washington movie certainly one of Washington’s last episodes on “Gray’s Anatomy.”Karen Neal/Disney Normal Leisure Content material by way of Getty Pictures

One of many earliest clashes on the “Gray’s Anatomy” set occurred between former stars Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey throughout which Isaiah reportedly referred to costar T.R Knight utilizing a homophobic slur.

Whereas capturing a scene late at night time on October 9, 2006, the actors started to argue as a result of Isaiah was aggravated that Dempsey was late to set, the tell-all guide  “How one can Save a Life: The Inside Story of Gray’s Anatomy” by Leisure Weekly’s editor at giant Lynette Rice reported. It will definitely escalated right into a bodily battle, former government producer Mark Wilding mentioned within the guide.

Former “Gray’s” author Harry Werksman mentioned that Isaiah pushed Dempsey towards a wall and instructed him he could not “discuss to me the best way you discuss to” Knight, whom he referred to utilizing the homophobic slur.

Finally, the lads calmed down, however the battle and Isaiah’s use of the slur have been reported to the press.

“All of us felt horrible for T.R. as a result of he had not come out to his household at that time,” Werksman mentioned. “That was the best way the information obtained delivered, and there was a sense like, ‘Oh my God, I can not think about a worse manner for that information to get to your loved ones.'”

Knight ultimately made an announcement confirming that he is homosexual to the press. Isaiah issued an announcement of apology to Individuals in 2006. However he used the slur once more on the 2007 Golden Globes whereas denying he mentioned it through the battle.

The actor was fired from “Gray’s Anatomy” in 2007 however returned in season 10 to assist facilitate Sandra Oh’s exit as Dr. Cristina Yang.

Representatives for Isaiah, Dempsey, and Knight did not reply to Insider’s request for remark in 2021 upon the discharge of “How one can Save a Life.”

Katherine Heigl withdrew her identify from Emmy consideration and sparked drama with Shonda Rhimes.

Shonda Rhimes and Katherine Heigl

Present creator Shonda Rhimes poses with Katherine Heigl, actress on the In Model Journal solid celebration For Gray’s Anatomy on January 14, 2006.Frazer Harrison/Getty Pictures

Katherine Heigl gained an Emmy for her supporting function as Dr. Izzie Stevens on “Gray’s Anatomy” in 2007. However in 2008, she withdrew her identify from Emmys consideration, per an announcement revealed by Leisure Weekly that learn as follows:

“I didn’t really feel that I used to be given the fabric this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to keep up the integrity of the academy group. As well as, I didn’t wish to doubtlessly take away a possibility from an actress who was given such supplies.”

In keeping with “How To Save A Life,” Rhimes felt slighted by the assertion, which created stress between the then-showrunner and actor.

Heigl instructed Leisure Weekly in 2010 (the identical yr she exited the medical drama) that she “might have dealt with the scenario extra gracefully” and prevented inflicting the writers to really feel ambushed.

The Emmy’s incident wasn’t the one time Heigl shaded “Gray’s Anatomy” in public.

On “The Late Present With David Letterman” in 2009 Heigl mentioned the size of her workday on the present was “merciless and imply.” She additionally mentioned she was talking out about it as a result of she hoped it was “embarrassing” to decision-makers on the present.

Pondering again on her phrases to David Letterman within the aforementioned Leisure Weekly article in 2010, Heigl mentioned her phrases sounded “whiny.”

“On the time, I used to be simply rapidly instructed to close the fuck up. The extra I mentioned I used to be sorry, the extra they wished it,” Heigl instructed author Ashley Spencer within the Washington Put up in 2022. “The extra terrified and scared I used to be of doing one thing unsuitable, the extra I got here throughout like I had actually completed one thing horribly unsuitable.”

In 2021’s “How To Save a Life” an nameless supply instructed Rice that “Katie obtained a uncooked deal” the place her repute on “Gray’s” was involved.

In keeping with the supply, Rhimes “felt just like the star of the present and resented that the actors have been turning into stars of their very own.”

Representatives for Rhimes and Heigl did not reply to Insider’s request for remark in 2021 upon the discharge of “How one can Save a Life.”

Dempsey was accused of ‘terrorizing the set’ in a brand new tell-all guide.

grey's anatomy derek shooting

Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd on “Gray’s Anatomy.”ABC

Dempsey exited “Gray’s Anatomy” as a sequence common in season 11; Derek Shepherd’s final episode alive, written by Rhimes and titled “How To Save A Life” aired on April 23, 2015.

In 2021, the general public might have gotten some extra clues as to why he left due to Rice’s guide. She spoke to former government producer James D. Parriott, who accused Dempsey of “terrorizing the set” throughout his previous few years on the present.

“Some solid members had all kinds of PTSD with him,” Parriott continued. “He had this maintain on the set the place he knew he might cease manufacturing and scare individuals.”

Parriott claimed that in Dempsey’s previous few appearances on the “Gray’s” set “he and Shonda have been at one another’s throats.” The previous EP claimed that he was requested to step in to assist facilitate Dempsey’s exit as a result of “HR points.”(Rhimes was succeeded as showrunner on “Gray’s Anatomy” by Krista Vernoff in season 14).

Not everybody who gave interviews for the guide agreed that Dempsey was onerous to work with. An nameless “longtime crew member” instructed Rice that actors have been going to Rhimes and telling her each time Dempsey made a unsuitable step.

The individual mentioned that Dempsey was “depressing” and “had nobody to speak to” about any of his personal potential points.

Even his costar and frequent scene accomplice Ellen Pompeo, who has performed Dr. Meredith Gray on the present for 18 seasons to this point, was reportedly “pissed off” with Dempsey, per a former co-executive producer and author, Jeannine Renshaw in Rice’s guide.

“She would get offended that he wasn’t working as a lot,” Renshaw mentioned. “She was very massive on having issues be truthful. She simply did not like that Patrick would complain that ‘I am right here too late’ or ‘I have been right here too lengthy’ when she had twice as many scenes within the episode as he did.”

Representatives for Dempsey, Rhimes, and Pompeo did not reply to Insider’s request for remark in 2021 upon the discharge of “How one can Save a Life” whereas a consultant for ABC declined to remark.

Pompeo and Dempsey look like on good phrases at present. He returned to “Gray’s” for a multi-episode arc when Meredith was in a coma on season 17. He additionally appeared on the September 29, 2021, episode of her podcast, “Inform Me With Ellen Pompeo.” 

Author Elisabeth Finch was accused of faking particulars of her private life, reportedly resulting in an inner investigation.

Elisabeth Finch on set of "Grey's Anatomy."

Elisabeth Finch on set of “Gray’s Anatomy.”Mitch Haaseth/Disney Normal Leisure Content material by way of Getty Pictures

In March 2022, leisure e-newsletter The Ankler reported that “Gray’s Anatomy” author Elisabeth Finch was positioned on “administrative depart” following “critical considerations” inside Shonda Rhimes’ manufacturing firm Shondaland that “components of Finch’s life story she shared within the writers’ room and with the press have been made up.”

In keeping with The Ankler, Finch had mentioned she was recognized with a uncommon type of bone most cancers and went by chemotherapy that pressured her to endure an abortion. She additionally mentioned she misplaced a part of her leg and a kidney and was misdiagnosed with a situation that led her to have pointless knee substitute surgical procedure.

Finch has additionally alleged she was sexually and emotionally abused on the set of “The Vampire Diaries” in an essay for The Hollywood Reporter in 2018.

Finch started engaged on the drama in season 11, which started airing in 2014. She has written pivotal episodes of the sequence together with season 15’s “Silent All These Years,” which centered on sexual assault.

On the finish of March, Finch took a depart of absence from the present amidst a reportedly contentious divorce, granted by Disney.

“I’ll all the time stay certainly one of ‘Gray’s Anatomy’s largest followers. I cherished the present from day one and had the dignity to put in writing for it since season 11,” Finch mentioned partially in an announcement to Insider, despatched by her lawyer in April.

“‘Gray’s Anatomy’ is one big-hearted, sensible household, “ it continued. “As onerous as it’s to take a while away proper now, I do know it’s extra vital that I focus by myself household and my well being.”

When beforehand reached for an announcement by Insider, a consultant for Shondaland mentioned, “Solely Elisabeth can communicate to her private story.” A consultant at Disney/ABC declined to remark.

An investigation into Finch was reportedly about to start at ABC’s mum or dad firm, Disney, and Shondaland, which produces “Gray’s,” in response to The Ankler. THR reported that after Finch started her depart of absence, plans to analyze her medical historical past ceased.

In Might, Vainness Truthful revealed a two-part story that went deeper into the drama surrounding Finch, which included allegations that she copied particulars of her estranged spouse’s abuse story and lied about cleansing up her buddy’s stays after the mass capturing on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

When Insider reached out to New Neighborhood Chevra Kadisha in Might, a coordinator mentioned that solely males have been current from their group whereas the second burial society, Pittsburgh’s Orthodox chevra kadisha, didn’t instantly reply.

Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw have been all of a sudden let go.

Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw on "Grey's Anatomy."

Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw on “Gray’s Anatomy.”Eric McCandless/Disney Normal Leisure Content material by way of Getty Pictures

On March 8, 2018, Worldwide Girls’s Day, it was reported by Deadline that Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw could be exiting “Gray’s Anatomy” on the finish of season 14.

“The characters of Arizona and April are completely woven into the material of ‘Gray’s Anatomy’ due to the extraordinary work of Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew,” showrunner Vernoff mentioned in an announcement. “As writers, our job is to observe the tales the place they wish to go and generally meaning saying goodbye to characters we love. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with these phenomenally gifted actresses.”

In her assertion on leaving the present posted to Instagram on March 8, 2018, Capshaw wrote partially: “For the previous ten years I’ve had the uncommon privilege of not solely enjoying Arizona Robbins but in addition being head over heels in love with enjoying her.”

“She was one of many first members of the LGBTQ neighborhood to be represented in a sequence common function on community tv. Her affect on the world is everlasting and endlessly. Perpetually,” Capshaw continued. “I’m grateful that I’ve gotten to deliver her to life and for the life that she has dropped at me. I’m so unhappy to see her go however am consoled by the concept she’s going to proceed to reside on and on in all of our consciences and our imaginations. Shonda, thanks for the trip on this unimaginable rollercoaster.”

Drew’s assertion, additionally posted to her Instagram account on March 8, 2018, made clear to the general public that she was not anticipating to go away “Gray’s Anatomy.”

“Thanks for all of the love. I do know you are unhappy. I am unhappy too. I have not actually had time to course of this data. I have been with it for lower than 48 hours, so I am not able to say my thank yous and provides an all-encompassing assertion about my 9 years right here,” it learn partially. “…I really like you, and I really like April, and her story is not over but.”

Drew and Capshaw’s exits got here the identical yr that star Ellen Pompeo signed a $20 million, two-year deal to proceed the present, as famous by Deadline.

Although the location was clear that there was no identified connection between the 2 occasions, Vernoff chastized Deadline in a tweet for making any connection between them.

“The suggestion within the Deadline article that our solid modifications are in any manner associated to Ellen Pompeo’s wage renegotiation is unsuitable and hurtful and misguided. It smacks of an previous, damaged patriarchal notion that ladies have to be pitted towards one another and that one girl’s success will probably be pricey to others,” she wrote partially on Twitter.


Pompeo and Denzel Washington argued on set.

Ellen Pompeo Denzel Washington

Ellen Pompeo and Denzel Washington.Alberto E. Rodriguez,Sean Gallup/Getty Pictures

In a September episode of her podcast, “Inform Me With Ellen Pompeo,” the actor revealed that she as soon as had a battle with former “Gray’s” director Denzel Washington when he directed an episode that aired in February 2016.

Pompeo instructed her visitor, former co-star Dempsey, that she fought with the “Fences” star when she modified a line of dialogue within the script. The phrases in query occurred in a scene the place an epileptic affected person was attempting to apologize to Meredith Gray for breaking her jaw.

“He apologized to me, however he was doing it actually softly. He made this alternative to talk very softly. And I used to be pissed that I needed to sit there and hearken to this apology,” she recalled for Dempsey. “And he wasn’t me within the eye. Once more, we love actors who make decisions. And I yelled at him, I used to be like, ‘Take a look at me! Whenever you apologize, take a look at me!’ And that wasn’t within the dialogue.”

“Denzel went ham on my ass. He was like, ‘I am the director. Do not you inform him what to do,'” Pompeo mentioned.

However Pompeo wasn’t intimidated by Denzel, she mentioned. “And I used to be like, ‘pay attention motherfucker, that is my present. That is my set. Who’re you telling? You barely know the place the lavatory is,'” she continued.

She mentioned she did not communicate to Denzel for a bit after that. “Any set, except it is a comedy…it is an emotional place and there is ardour and there is hearth there,” she mentioned. Finally, the pair made up, Pompeo instructed Dempsey.

“So, we have been advantageous after that. And he is simply among the finest to ever do it,” she mentioned. “You recognize, I’ve the utmost respect for him as an actor, as a director, as every part.”

Representatives for Denzel did not reply to Insider’s request for remark in September. In January, he instructed Selection he did not recall the incident in query after Pompeo obtained backlash for her conduct.

Commenting on the incident for Selection, Rhimes mentioned, “The reduction and the luxurious that I’ve is that I do not actually take note of Twitter or Instagram — or articles.”

“However I additionally really feel like Ellen’s going to be Ellen,” she added.

Pompeo declined to touch upon the matter additional in a November interview with Insider.


Jerrika Hinton was reportedly fired from ‘Gray’s Anatomy’ for taking unsanctioned images.

Ellen Pompeo and Jerrika Hinton.

Ellen Pompeo and Jerrika Hinton.Todd Williamson/E! Leisure/NBCU Picture Financial institution by way of Getty Pictures/Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Pictures

A supply in “How one can Save a Life: The Inside Story of Gray’s Anatomy,” mentioned that Jerrika Hinton’s reportedly contentious relationship with Pompeo “hastened her departure from the present.”

Hinton starred on the medical drama from 2012 to 2017 as Dr. Stephanie Edwards. However in response to the guide, Pompeo was a part of the explanation that Hinton left on the finish of Season 13. She reportedly took an image on set that the “Inform Me With Ellen Pompeo” host did not like with out asking permission.

“Jerrika was all the time laughing, however perhaps she was just a little naive,” Norman Leavitt, the pinnacle of the make-up division on “Gray’s” till 2018, mentioned. “She hadn’t been round lots, so perhaps she did not fairly perceive the ability Ellen had. If she’d gone and mentioned, ‘Is it okay if I take these Polaroids?’ Ellen most likely would have gone, ‘Okay.’ However by simply doing it and never together with her, you are setting your self up for catastrophe.”

Representatives for Pompeo, Hinton, and Leavitt did not reply to Insider’s request for remark in 2021 upon the discharge of “How one can Save a Life.”

In her 2017 “Gray’s Anatomy” exit interview with Leisure Weekly, Hinton referred to as the choice to go away “my very own.”

She mentioned she was “supported in a really deep manner that I might by no means talk, by my boss,” presumably referring to Rhimes.

“Actors evolve in a different way and when an actor like Jerrika involves me and says she needs to strive one thing new creatively, I wish to honor that,” Rhimes mentioned in an announcement to Leisure Weekly.

Ellen Pompeo interrupted a dialog about racism.

Shonda Rhimes and Ellen Pompeo

Govt producer Shonda Rhimes (L) and actress Ellen Pompeo communicate onstage through the ‘Gray’s Anatomy,’ ‘Scandal,’ and ‘How To Get Away With Homicide’ panel dialogue on the ABC Leisure portion of the 2015 Summer time TCA Tour at The Beverly Hilton Lodge on August 4, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California.Frederick M. Brown/Getty Pictures

Pompeo as soon as interrupted a dialog about racism by strolling out of an interview in tears, Rice’s “How To Save A Life” recalled.

The “Gray’s Anatomy” star sat for an Leisure Weekly interview in 2015 with Rhimes, and fellow #TGIT actors Viola Davis and Kerry Washington.

Through the dialog, author Melissa Maerz requested Rhimes to touch upon a New York Instances piece by Alessandra Stanley wherein Davis was referred to as “much less classically lovely” than lighter-skinned Black actresses. Stanley obtained backlash for her phrases, and Maerz requested Rhimes if “something optimistic” might come of the backlash.

Rhimes was reportedly in the midst of talking when Pompeo lower in and mentioned, “If any good comes out of ignorance, then I am going to take the ignorance.” Pompeo’s phrases brought on Davis to sigh and when the actor realized this her “eyes welled up with tears” and she or he left the room.

In Rice’s tell-all guide, Maerz requested rhetorically, “Was she actually saying that if any good got here out of racism, then racism was okay along with her? And why was Pompeo even responding to a query that had nothing to do along with her or her present?” She mentioned she regretted not asking Pompeo when she returned to the room.

“If I needed to guess, I might say that Ellen instantly regretted what she mentioned and did not wish to draw an excessive amount of consideration to herself by crying in entrance of the others,” Maerz mentioned. She described Pompeo’s phrases and exit as “a complete record-scratch second.”

Representatives for Pompeo, Rhimes, and Davis did not reply to Insider’s request for remark in 2021 upon the discharge of “How one can Save a Life.”

Washington claims Pompeo took “hush cash.”

Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Isaiah Washington

Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, and Isaiah Washington.Jon Kopaloff/WireImage; Vera Anderson/WireImage; Vera Anderson/WireImage

Washington mentioned Pompeo took “$5 million {dollars} underneath the desk” to maintain quiet about “how poisonous and nasty Patrick Dempsey actually was,” on Tavis Smiley’s radio present on October 21. 

The actor additionally referred to as Dempsey  “a complete tyrant” through the dialog. He mentioned Pompeo took the “hush cash” from unnamed events across the time the #MeToo Motion was making headlines and earlier than she signed her $20 million deal to proceed engaged on “Gray’s Anatomy” in 2018.

“And also you wish to run round right here like you’re the keeper of all female girls and the feminist motion,” Washington mentioned, referring to Pompeo.

The “P-Valley” actor claimed that his involvement in conflicts on set of the medical drama was used to cowl up Dempsey’s conduct as a result of Dempsey had a robust relationship with Disney.

Reps for Pompeo and Dempsey did not reply to Insider’s request for remark in October 2021 following Washington’s allegations.

Knight left “Gray’s” due to a “breakdown of communication” with Rhimes.

TR Knight.

Knight in 2022.CHRIS DELMAS/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

Knight left “Gray’s Anatomy” in 2009 through the season 5 finale when his character George O’Malley obtained hit by a bus attempting to avoid wasting a stranger.

In his exit interview with Leisure Weekly, Knight mentioned that he made the selection to go away due to a “breakdown of communication” with Rhimes.

He additionally referred to as into query the integrity of the storytelling on the time.

“My five-year expertise proved to me that I couldn’t belief any reply that was given [about George],” he mentioned. “And with respect, I’ll depart it at that.”

Knight returned to the medical drama in 2020 for an episode referred to as “You may By no means Stroll Alone” to seem in Meredith’s ideas whereas she was in a COVID-19-induced coma. Vernoff had been appointed showrunner by that point.

Sara Ramirez spoke out on in the event that they’d return to the present.

Sara Ramierez, Bobby Lee

Sara Ramirez on “And Simply Like That.”Craig Blankenhorn/HBO Max

Sara Ramirez left “Gray’s Anatomy” within the season 12 finale when their character Dr. Callie Torres moved to New York.

In 2018, Rhimes mentioned in a now-deleted Instagram video {that a} main community blocked Ramirez from returning to the present for a season 14 episode.

“Let me let you know one thing: we tried. CBS has a maintain of her as a result of she’s on one other present, and we will not get her. However we love her,” Rhimes mentioned in response to TV Information, referring to Ramirez’s function on “Madam Secretary.” “At all times. That is her residence. Come residence, Callie,” Rhimes continued.

However Ramirez later refuted Rhimes’ reminiscence of occasions. In a now-deleted tweet posted by  Deadline and different shops, Ramirez wrote: “For the document @CBS has been nothing however gracious and beneficiant to me. They’re open to Callie coming again! The ball is in @ABCNetwork ‘s court docket. ✌🏽💜”

Brooke Smith was all of a sudden fired from the present.

Smith on "Big Sky."

Smith on “Large Sky.”Darko Sikman by way of Getty Pictures

Brooke Smith performed cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Erica Hahn on “Gray’s” from season two to season 5.

Dr. Hahn abruptly left the present in the midst of season 5 after an evening with Callie made her understand she was a lesbian and in her exit interview with Leisure Weekly, Smith mentioned it wasn’t her alternative.

“I used to be stunned and disillusioned once they simply all of a sudden instructed me that they could not write for my character anymore,” she mentioned. She blamed the truth that the community obtained “chilly ft” when it got here to creating a storyline for a gay couple.

“I do not suppose I am ever going to know [why this really happened],” she mentioned.

“I used to be floored once they instructed me [I was being let go]. It was the very last thing I anticipated. In truth, once they instructed me I requested, ‘When is that this taking place?’ They usually mentioned, ‘The [next episode] is your final,'” Smith continued, noting that Erica wasn’t even written out correctly. She simply left the hospital and headed to her automotive.

Smith mentioned that though the information that she was leaving got here from Rhimes, she did not suppose it was the creator’s alternative.

“I do not know for positive, however it undoubtedly appeared like [Shonda’s] arms have been tied. That was simply my intestine. She did appear upset,” Smith mentioned.

Dempsey later expressed shock over Smith’s exit on “The Ellen DeGeneres Present.”

Isaiah Washington mentioned he wasn’t solid as Dr. Shepherd due to Ellen Pompeo.

Ellen Pompeo Isaiah Washington

Ellen Pompeo and Isaiah WashingtonFrazer Harrison/Getty Pictures

In keeping with Rice’s 2021 tell-all guide, “How To Save A Life,” Isaiah Washington was initially meant to play Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, however the function went to Dempsey as a result of Pompeo was “uncomfortable” with the thought of Isaiah enjoying the half.

“I did not audition for Burke, I auditioned for McDreamy,” Isaiah mentioned in response to the guide. “There is a rumor on the market or one thing that Ellen did not need me to be her love curiosity as a result of she had a Black boyfriend. The context is that she’s not into white males.”

Pompeo was courting and later married Chris Ivery, a document producer and trend government.

“I assume she implied that her boyfriend might have had an issue along with her doing love scenes with me, so she felt uncomfortable,” Isaiah continued in response to the guide.

Isaiah mentioned he “supported” Pompeo in not wanting the result in be the Dr. Ben Carson kind that Rhimes initially imagined.

Pompeo addressed the problem in a 2013 interview concerning the two hundredth episode of “Gray’s Anatomy” with the New York Put up.

She mentioned Rhimes wished “a Black man within the combine” however the actor “did not suppose they have been actually going to place an interracial couple on the present.”

“And I did not need him. It was too near residence,” she mentioned. “I mentioned I wished that Dempsey child.”

Representatives for Pompeo, Washington, and Rhimes did not reply to Insider’s request for remark in 2021 upon the discharge of “How one can Save a Life.” A consultant for ABC declined to remark on the time.

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