Grey's Anatomy has been playing games with our hearts for 14 glorious seasons. Shondaland’s first show has allowed us to live thousands of experiences during its 317 episode run. We’ve seen these doctors through relationships, career changes, so, so many catastrophic natural and man-made crises, and, of course, painful losses.
When McDreamy was flattened by that truck he should've seen coming, we wept with Meredith as she said goodbye to the love of her life. We threw things at the television when we learned that not only were we losing Lexie to the plane crash, but were also expected to live without our beloved McSteamy. And some of us sought therapy after a gunman entered the hospital and picked off people we’d grown really attached to.
Grey's Anatomy is a show that requires a lot of emotional investment, and that investment doesn’t always pay cheerful dividends. Luckily, we have much in the way of evidence that this show is, in fact, not real. This is a list full of behind-the-scenes photos that will totally change the way you think about certain Grey's episodes and cast members, mostly all for the better. If your brain needs a palate cleanser after watching a particularly heavy episode, this is the list for you.
The photos below will feature characters marvelously brought back to life and usually way happier than we ever saw them on the show. It’s nice to remind ourselves every once in a while that McDreamy lives, Sloan and Lexie could totally get coffee if they wanted to, and every intern is alive and accounted for.
Here are 20 Behind-The-Scenes Photos From Grey's Anatomy That Change Everything.
20 APRIL’S FIRST WEDDING
April Kepner’s had her fair share of weddings, and when Sarah Drew exited the show this past season, her character finally got a do-over on the traditional storybook affair she’d wanted for her first one. This picture is actually from Kepner’s first wedding to Matthew, but as you’ll recall, it didn’t end happily – at least not as happy as the people in this picture would make it seem.
Jackson interrupted the service (and our hearts) to declare his love for April, and the two eloped that night. Unfortunately, the loss of their son would eventually tear them apart, but both Jackson and April have found their own happy endings - despite how betrayed their fandom might feel.
19 JESSICA CAPSHAW TOURS “CRAFT SERVICES”
In 2014, Jessica Capshaw gave a tour of the Grey's set to the Rachael Ray Show, and viewers discovered that much of what we see on the show isn’t actually real. Well, that was obviously clear, but let’s be honest, we probably all take totally for granted the amount of practical effects used on a daily basis on a show like Grey's. Sure there’s a fair amount of CGI at work, but there’s also plenty of fake blood and organs lying around whenever necessary.
In the video, Capshaw demonstrates a heart that beats, two different kinds of fake blood, and some intestines that are just lying around.
Also featured: Capshaw’s adorable trailer that’s decorated with her kids’ drawings and a letter from her husband that he gives her on the first day of every season.
18 HEAVY DINNER
Envisioning Meredith Grey, Richard Webber, and Maggie’s mom Diane at a table together would make a lot of people tune in, if only to see how these people reacted to each other.
Richard Webber is Maggie’s biological dad as a result of his torrid affair with Ellis Grey, mother of the woman sitting two seats down the table. Maggie was pretty hesitant about forging a relationship with Richard, partly because she loved her parents and didn’t feel like she’d been missing a father.
Luckily, Meredith and Richard got over their issues years ago and Diane was an angel too good for this world, so this dinner wasn’t a cringeworthy as it could’ve been. But it was still more uncomfortable than the actors in this photo.
17 BRIDES CHILLING
Arizona and Callie’s relationship went through its fair share of ups and downs. First Arizona left Callie for a fellowship halfway around the world and when she came back, Callie was pregnant with Mark Sloan’s child. Then Callie was thrown through a car window and had to give birth, only to have the father of her child perish in a plane crash and her partner return maimed.
After Arizona woke up to the reality of her amputation, she was a in a sour mood for the ensuing months and Callie was left to be the recipient of her partner’s blame and bitterness. Finally, a miserable Arizona cheated and the two ended their relationship.
But it wasn’t all rocks and shoals, as this photo of Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw in their wedding dresses shows.
One show that was allowed to crossover with Grey's prodigiously was Private Practice. Addison hopped up to Seattle with a fair amount of frequency, and cast members from Grey's found their way to L.A. here and there. The most prominent of those characters was Amelia Shepherd, Derek Sherherd’s troubled but brilliant sister.
Paul Adelstein also appeared on Scandal, but not as his character from Private Practice. Again, for the best, as those universes would not blend well.
This photo breaks all sorts of narrative boundaries in our heads, and it really makes us wish Joe Morton had appeared on Grey's or PP just once.
It would make us imagining him as Maggie’s adoptive father way easier.
15 THEY’RE NOT REALLY DRIVING?
Meredith’s house has been a revolving door of friends, lovers, enemies, one-night stands, and small children. Even while Meredith can go to her dark and twisty places, she’s always been generous with her home, which, frankly, is probably why she still has friends outside of Christina.
The latest iteration of her co-habitation situation is her and her two sisters, Maggie and Amelia, and for a minute, Alex and Jo. Considering they all work in the same place, carpooling’s become a favorite new destination for set-up scenes.
Despite how realistic the Seattle background is when the docs are tooling around, the bulk of this show is filmed in Los Angeles – especially interior car shots that would be a pain to shoot anywhere but an interior.
Remember Robert Fischer? He was the guy in season 10 who showed up at the hospital after being involved in a car accident. His injuries weren’t that exciting, but his plastic surgery sure was.
Dissatisfied with his appearance, he’d adjusted his appearance to make himself more cat-like. The effect was disturbing enough to break the composure of a few interns, but by the end of the episode, we’d all learned a valuable lesson in not judging others for their appearances and that being different is lonely.
It was never super clear what inspired the show to pick this particular messenger for such a pedestrian takeaway, but if it raised awareness for this particularly demographic, no matter how small it may be, well done!
Luckily this photo confirms that Brian Howe is considerably less burdened than his character.
13 WHAT AMBULANCE?
April and Owen represent a real rarity in Shondaland – a male and female relationship that isn’t at any point a torrid, romantic affair. These two showed everyone how you’re supposed to treat your peers in a professional environment. Owen’s careful and sweet mentorship of April blossoms into a mutual and equalized friendship over the course of the series.
It wasn’t always appointment viewing, but their relationship did a little to balance out the hospital’s weird, total acceptance of fraternization between superiors and subordinates.
These two helped each through no small amount of heartache and devastation, but this picture is a nice break in the general drama and high stakes all the doctors have to deal with on a never ending basis.
12 CHRISTINA LIKES SOME KIDS
Christina Yang was a feminist icon for the ages. Her career came before anything else – literally anything – in her life. It wasn’t that she didn’t try to have other focal points in her life, but she rarely found anyone who was capable of taking a backseat to her ambition.
Her friendship with Meredith survived in part because Mer did understand this about her and didn’t demand more from Christina than she could give (most of the time). Christina’s relationship with Owen didn’t fare so well because he wanted children and couldn’t forgive Christina for not wanting them.
Though we kind of hate that it wound up costing her a partner, Christina refusing to back down or apologize for her lack of desire for children provided an example to other women who might feel the same way, but face social disapproval.
11 LEXIE LIVES
Look at this photo – look how happy and innocent and totally unsuspecting this group of people is. Little did they know that less than a year later, one of them would be seriously inujured and two of them would perish in a plane crash.
Lexie’s passing was one of the series’ most tragic and brutal. While some character deaths seemed oddly fitting (or at least prefaced by an actor’s announcement that they would be leaving), Lexie’s felt really out of the blue.
Let’s not forget she passed away with the love of her life looking on and telling her they were meant to be.
Seeing Chyler Leigh and Eric Dane look so joyful and carefree just makes us wish we could turn back time and stop Shonda from offing them both.
10 KATHERINE AVERY HAS A SOFTER SIDE
Debbie Allen’s had a storied career as an actor, dancer, choreographer, and director. Some of her more recognizable credits include Fame, Everybody Hates Chris, Girlfriends, and Hellcats. She basically hasn’t stopped working since the '80s.
When she originated the role of Katherine Avery on Grey’s Anatomy, she infused every storyline she touched with the woman’s fortitude and classic intolerance of nonsense.
That intolerance has made her a thorn in the side of anyone who crossed her or her son Jackson, as was the case when she deceitfully pushed April into suing Jackson for custody in the hopes the move would eventually backfire in Jackson’s favor.
Clearly Debbie Allen is way better at forging healthy relationships with her and Jackson’s peers, as demonstrated by the massive cuddle puddle they’ve all formed around her.
9 TR KNIGHT'S AWKWARD EMBRACE
Remember when George and Izzie were madly in love with each other, but couldn’t get it together so just stared at each other longingly until the tension broke? Remember it being so amazing when they finally gave in to their mutual feelings while we all cheered from our couches?
Yeah, we don’t either. What we do remember is George and Izzie having kind of a great, uncomplicated friendship that no one asked anyone to change.
As exemplified by this picture, George and Izzie were more like brother and sister than boyfriend and girlfriend.
Their romance never made any sense and it was awkward to watch Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight attempt to make us like it - almost as awkward as this funny picture Knight share of him attempting to hug Heigl through his TV screen.
8 STRESS EATING
From the cheap seats, it looks like Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson, Justin Chambers, and the rest of the OG Grey's clan have it made. Unless they make catastrophic investments, they probably don’t have to worry about money ever again, and we have to believe working on a Shondaland set is tons of fun more often than not. Well, if you ignore the constant terror everyone probably feels knowing their characters’ lives are beholden to the whims of the writers.
This photo makes it clear that even those at the top of the chain aren’t safe from the writers' wrath.
Sure, it might seem like Meredith Grey has a degree of plot armor, but you probably thought the same thing about McDreamy and look what happened to him.
7 FRIENDS IN HAPPIER TIMES
Katherine Heigl and - to a lesser extent - T.R. Knight ended their tenure on Grey's on an unhappy note.
Heigl’s long-fought a reputation for being "difficult to work with” as evidenced in her refusal to submit herself for Emmy consideration after what she deemed a subpar season for Izzie. She exited the show shortly after and has publicly expressed regret at that particular decision.
While it took him longer to explain his exit, T.R. Knight has also stated that he and showrunner Shonda Rhimes did not part on great terms. He quit after George’s ridiculous season of marrying Callie, cheating with Izzie, and generally coming apart at the seams.
6 MAGGIE & DIANE
One thing that consistently amazes us about Grey's Anatomy is its ability to make us fall in love with characters we’ve only just met.
Maggie’s mother Diane was a prime example of this phenomenon. Before her arrival in Seattle Grace, Maggie’s adoptive parents had been figments she’d used to keep Richard’s efforts to be close to her at bay. Then Diane showed up, suffering from terminal cancer, and we wept as Maggie was confronted with a problem her prodigal intellect couldn’t solve.
We love this photo because it makes us feel like that storyline was a terrible dream and in some universe Diane is still alive and paying her daffy daughter surprise visits.
Fun fact: “Be Still, My Soul”, the episode in which Diane passes away, was Ellen Pompeo’s directorial debut.
5 MEREDITH GRRRRRREY
Let’s face it, Ellen Pompeo is probably a nightmare. Anyone with their own show for over a decade has to be self-centered and disconnected from the real world. As a matter of fact, we have our suspicions that she’s the one behind the writer's evil pen.
How would you feel after spending a decade getting upstaged by McDreamy? This quote from The Hollywood Reporter says it all: “So, what does it look like when [Patrick Dempsey] leaves the show? First, it looks like a ratings spike, and I had a nice chuckle about that."
Just kidding! by all accounts Pompeo is a total saint. She candidly discussed her much-lauded $20 million dollar contract and nabbed a huge win for other actresses fighting for equal pay with their male co-stars.
She's the sun and this picture is a hilarious contrast to her reputation.
4 SHONDALAND FAMILY GET TOGETHER
Remember when Olivia Pope teamed up with Annalise Keating and they both took a vaycay to Seattle after they saved the day and went wine tasting with Meredith and a visiting Christina Yang? You probably only remember the first part because the second part tragically did not occur.
In her not always infinite wisdom, Shonda Rhimes chose not to include the Grey's universe in her crossover event.
To be fair, it totally makes sense. We admit to a healthy suspension of disbelief when it comes to Grey's, but that would be a step too far, It would’ve been fun to see the crews meet, but no one would’ve been able to take it seriously.
At least we have this photo so we can imagine it’s taking place in some unaired episode where everyone got together for the weirdest and best party ever.
3 FRIENDSHIP TRIANGLE
Teddy was the biggest threat to Owen and Christina’s relationship outside of Christina’s (completely reasonable) lack of desire for kids.
Teddy came on the scene fairly early in Owen and Christina’s relationship and because of her love for Owen and Christina’s love for Teddy’s teaching ability, she was nearly instrumental in the couple breaking up the first time. Christina famously offered to give up Owen to Teddy if it meant Teddy would stay in Seattle and teach her.
Then Christina really started to wig out when she and Owen were in a dark place and Teddy’s relationship with Owen started to seem inappropriate and dangerous. Luckily, all that drama was saved for the screen as this picture proves these three are actually besties.
2 CALLIE WALKS DOWN THE AISLE ALONE
One of the most interesting and relevant aspects of Callie’s story was how her parents reacted to her orientation. Her father Carlos had already shown his willingness to cut his daughter off from his fortune and out of his life, but the two had reconciled. That’s why when Callie’s mother Lucia arrived, we thought this B-Plot would be all fluff.
Unfortunately, Lucia proved more intractable than her husband, and she refused to attend Callie and Arizona’s wedding. Carlos went along with her, which meant she got walked down the aisle by Mark.
Apparently the altar wasn’t exactly at the same level as the aisle, as this photo of her getting escorted onto the dais proves.
1 THE REAL ON-CALL ROOM
As much as we love Grey's, we’re more than willing to admit that it’s probably a good thing this hospital drama isn’t a documentary. There are way too many inappropriate office romances that actually happen in the office - or the on-call room, in Grey's Anatomy's case.
This shot of the stars who work at the most inappropriate hospital on the face of the Earth is a welcome reminder that this is typically what most employees do when they’re on break. They sit and chill out instead of getting all romantic in a room that no one ever remembers to lock.
Do you have any behind-the-scenes scoop to share about Grey's Anatomy? Let us know in the comments!