Shonda Rhimes is one of TV’s biggest powerhouses. She made a name for herself writing projects like HBO’s Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and the Britney Spears vehicle Crossroads before hitting it big on the silver screen with Grey’s Anatomy.
Since that show’s debut in 2005, she has been behind hit after hit, including Grey’s spinoff Private Practice, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder (HTGAWM).
This run of successful programming has yielded Shondaland, a production company that has kept a Rhimes-made show on the air since 2004. If this wasn’t impressive enough, a new Shondaland show is debuted at least every few years, often to zeitgeist-capturing success.
Her shows have been lauded for their diverse, inclusive casts and melding of intense drama with deeply felt emotion and biting wit. Still, they are just as well-known for their work-place romances.
This drama happens behind the scenes too. Shondaland shows generate a lot of buzz over the backstage drama, and romance is a big part of this. Almost every cast is subject to the romance rumor mill, and many of these shows feature couples acting alongside each other.
From husband-wife teams acting opposite each other to the couples falling in and out of love on set, here are the 8 Shondaland Stars Who Got Together In Real Life (And 8 Who Are Just Friends).
16 Got Together: Liza Weil and and Charlie Weber
On HTGAWM, Frank Delfino and Bonnie Winterbottom share an intense history complete with clandestine meetings, attempts at retribution, and a season 3 tryst that surprised many fans of the show.
Despite their characters’ rocky relationship status, actors Charlie Weber and Liza Weil have a less grim life off-screen.
In 2017, Weber and Weil stepped out together and announced that they were officially an item.
The press had a lot to say about this hookup, especially about how comfortable they looked together. In fact, by the time they made it public, they'd already been together for a year.
The relationship went public with a surprisingly intimate birthday tweet from Weber to Weil.
Since then, the two have opened up about their relationship, with Weber saying that he’s “very happy” in the relationship. They’ve both talked about how circumstance and shared passions transformed their work relationship from platonic to romantic.
“We’re two actors who are very dedicated to what they do and have a very easy time separating who we are and who we are as characters,” Weber told People magazine.
More than this, they found themselves bonding over an uncomfortable, shared experience.
Both stars got together after divorcing their longtime spouses. Weber split from his wife of 9 months due to irreconcilable differences around the same time that Weil’s marriage to Shondaland favorite Paul Adelstein dissolved.
15 Just Friends: Aja Naomi King and Karla Souza
On HTGAWM, Aja Naomi King and Karla Souza have frequently butted heads, and their onscreen feud has been the source of many memes. A latter season team-up, however, may be an example of art imitating life.
The two actresses both started their careers around the start of the decade and both have blown up as a result of their roles on HTGAWM, so it’s no surprise that they’ve formed a friendship that has the internet abuzz.
Both stars' Instagram accounts are full of pictures of the two burgeoning stars together, as Buzzfeed enthusiastically highlighted.
They have posted countless photos of them chilling out, watching Netflix, taking selfies with and without other cast members, and just having fun delighted fans.
More than the casual friendship, fans seem to have taken to the way that the two support each other, as they are often seen sending positive messages over social media that have fans gushing.
While their career starts may have been a bit different— King jumped straight into broadcast TV and independent movies, while Souza got her start on telenovas— they seem to have a built a relationship that works both on and off set.
Their combination of frenemies/reluctant allies by day and BFFs by night has the internet green with envy.
14 Got Together: Marika Dominczyk and Scott Foley
Any couple who’s been together for long enough will admit to seeing their partner in an uncomfortable light, but Grey’s Anatomy star Marika Dominczyk saw a model of her deceased husband on her first day of work.
Her partner, Scott Foley, met a cruel fate on the show, departing Seattle Grace Hospital four years before his wife made her debut, but the prop department reuses the corpses to cut down on production costs.
Shondaland romances are known to be tumultuous on and off screen, so Foley and Domincyzk’s union comes across as more down-to-earth, and it seems all the stranger for that.
Foley admits to sneaking in naps in his trailer because their three kids often keep them up at night. Foley’s old friend Jessica Capshaw played his wife’s lover on TV, which must make for some odd conversations when the old friends get together.
Both Foley and Domincyzk have had long careers in television. Foley played Henry Burton on Grey’s Anatomy, but it’s his role as Jake Ballard on Scandal that truly solidified his place in Shondaland.
Dominczyk made her Shondaland debut in the past few years after a prolific television career that was put on hold so that she could stay at home and raise their kids.
The two were married in a private ceremony in 2007, and they credit this low-key approach with keeping their marriage strong.
“We keep it together because we’re pretty simple… We make dinner at home. We sit with the kids. We do crossword puzzles at night between watching The Bachelor and Scandal," Foley stated.
13 Just Friends: Jesse Williams and Sarah Drew
Seattle Grace can be a scary place for a new doctor, and Shondaland can be an intimidating place for a new addition to the cast, so it’s not surprising that sometimes the newbies stick together.
One such case is Jesse Williams and Sarah Drew, who joined the Grey’s Anatomy cast in season 6 and embarked on the type of onscreen romance we’ve come to expect in Shondaland. It’s rocky, tumultuous, and it leaves the audience and actors hoping for a spot of happiness.
While fans have long rooted for the couple they call Japril, in real life the stars have developed a friendship so wholesome that Wetpaint declared it #friendshipgoals.
Each star's Instagram features a variety of selfies with the actors together pulling faces. They’ve seemed sad, happy, confused, and giggly even on panels or in the middle of filming. They’ve also been known to exchange complementary tweets about each other’s performances.
While this would be enough for fans and the press to start gossiping, the actors have kept things platonic. Drew is happily married with kids, and Williams has been the source of much tabloid gossip after his 13-year marriage ended.
However, the announcement that Drew wouldn’t be returning to Grey’s Anatomy hit fans hard. Williams was also upset, and he has been quite vocal about his disappointment over his departing costar.
12 Got Together: Aja Naomi King and Alfred Enoch
This one should be filed under unconfirmed but heavily rumored. Both Aja Naomi King and Alfred Enoch have gotten their hands dirty on HTGAWM. Each has faced their share of drama and danger with very different, but still linked, outcomes.
Off-screen however, King and Enoch have a relationship that has excited and confused fans. The two stars have been cagey about the nature of their relationship while fanning the flames of the rumors about what exactly they’ve meant to each other.
Speculation started on social media as the two stars seemed to accompany each other everywhere, looking smitten in pics posted to Instagram.
As Essence pointed out, “It's not out of the ordinary for co-stars to hang out, but these two have protested together at the Women's March, met up with her family in the UK, and Alfred was even her date at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood gala.”
Enoch even met King’s parents, with King adding ““My parents love Alfie.” When asked for more detail, she gave a response that only added to the confusion: "I would like to clear up nothing... He's a beautiful man, and I think I'm quite a lovely young lady."
If there was a relationship, it appears to have gone south, though, as months later King was spotted with another possible-beau. Whether her relationship with Enoch was real or just social media mongering, it certainly had the fans guessing.
11 Just Friends: Ellen Pompeo and Justin Chambers
It makes sense that Ellen Pompeo and Justin Chambers are friends. They’re two of the longest standing cast members on Grey's Anatomy.
Amidst heaps of behind the scenes drama, Pompeo and Chambers seem to have carved out a bit of stability on a show known for casting shakeups and dramatic actor exits. So much so that Wetpaint assembled a whole list of great moments in their off-screen friendship.
Pompeo has taken to social media to thank Chambers for his friendship and declared him “one of the loves of my life.”
Chambers has been equally complementary, congratulating Pompeo for award wins and talking at length about their friendship.
Despite their complicated onscreen personas and sometimes unflattering behavior, both have credited their residencies on Grey’s Anatomy as a source of their offscreen stability, something which seems to elude cast members who were written off or jumped ship for a stab at the big screen.
E! even put their friendship to the test, asking the actors how much they know about each other.
So, while fans have speculated about their characters getting together onscreen, the stars insist that they’re happy to remain just friends on and off set.
10 Got Together: Liza Weil and Paul Adelstein
Given how many Shondaland shows there are and how large their casts can be, it’s no surprise that some actors pop up on multiple shows and crisscross each other along different story arcs. Couples are no different.
Former husband and wife Liza Weil and Paul Adelstein are prolific TV actors. Weil made her name on Gilmore Girls, while Adelstein made it to the mainstream with Prison Break.
Weil made her Shondaland debut with a guest appearance on Grey’s Anatomy in 2007 followed by a stint on Private Practice, a recurring arc on Scandal and now a lead role on HTGAWM.
Adelstein entered Shondaland in 2007 with a multiple episode run on Grey’s Anatomy and a regular role on Private Practice. He had a recurring role on Scandal and received attention for a non-Rhimes production, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.
For most of their time in Shondaland, these two were married, tying the knot in 2003.
Even though they didn’t appear together onscreen in Shondaland, they shared the screen in three movies. They began divorce proceedings in 2016, citing irreconcilable differences.
By the time their divorce was finalized, they had been married for 11 years.
While the split left many scratching their heads, the two actors were tight-lipped up about the reasons for the split as well as the conditions of the divorce. They instead chose to settle things quietly in mediation.
9 Just Friends: Jack Falahee and Conrad Ricamora
Unlike a lot of pairings on HTGAWM, and Shondaland shows in general, Jack Falahee and Conrad Ricamora’s onscreen relationship seems tender and genuinely loving. Fans have taken to calling the show’s couple Colliver (Falahee plays a character named Connor and Ricamora plays Oliver).
Their onscreen romance, complete with steamy moments, has caused fans to ship the romance in real life. While that doesn’t look like it will happen soon— Ricamora is gay, while Falahee is not— fans are getting the next best thing: a bromance.
Like a lot of celebrity relationships these days, social media has provided the clues. Both stars’ Instagram accounts feature photos of the two meeting up and hanging out off set.
Falahee paid a visit to Ricamora while he was doing a play at the Seattle Repertory Theater, watching his costar in Here Lies Love and taking to social media to tell fans that Ricamora nailed it.
The pair have also given and gotten a lot of encouragement from fans for their onscreen relationship. The LGBTQ community has taken to the positive image Colliver puts forward on the show, but this was actually not a given at the start.
“I never thought they would see each other again past the pilot, but I just really liked their chemistry! And that’s a credit to Jack and Conrad,” said showrunner Pete Nowalk in an interview with E!
8 Got Together: Mirielle Enos and Alan Ruck
The Catch is one of Shondaland’s less successful ventures. It lasted longer than Still Star-Crossed or Off the Map, but failed to catch on to the extent that Rhimes-productions are known for and was cancelled after two seasons.
Still, it featured one of the lesser known of Shondaland’s off-screen couplings.
The main star of the show was Mireille Enos, who had already racked up fame and award nominations for her lead role on The Killing. Even as the show frustrated viewers, Enos impressed and found another lead role in the Rhimes-produced comedy drama centered on a private detective agency.
One of the stars to make appearances on the show was Alan Ruck, of Ferris Bueller fame. On the show, Ruck played the estranged husband of Valerie Anderson, played by Rose Rollins, who formed the detective agency with Enos’ character, Alice.
In real life, however, Ruck and Enos are married.
The mention of their relationship usually raises eyebrows. Ruck is nineteen years older than Enos, though this hasn’t seemed to affect their relationship that much. Enos had a crush on Ruck when she was a teenager, so meeting, let alone getting married, was a bit of wish-fulfillment.
“Matthew Broderick was never a thing,” she said of the actor who played Ferris Bueller in an interview with People. “It was always Cameron, tall and skinny and singing to himself.”
They met while working on a play. Two children later, the couple continue to work steadily while co-parenting.
7 Just Friends: Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson
Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson are two of Grey’s Anatomy’s original stars. Oh left after ten seasons, while Wilson has remained. Despite Oh’s departure, it seems as if there’s still a lot of love and respect between the former costars.
Oh’s exit hit fans and fellow cast members hard, and the idea of her returning to Seattle Grace is enough to make both salivate. Oh is equally popular with the cast off-screen.
When Glamour asked who they socialize most with off the set, Oh seemed to be a frequent confident of Justin Chambers, Sara Ramirez, and, of course, Wilson.
This affection has not been lost on Oh either. Talking with The Globe and Mail, she had heaps of praise to usher on Wilson.
“Chandra Wilson is someone I admire tremendously: she's a mom of three, a full-time actress, a successful director. She will probably take over the world one day, and still she is deeply kind and compassionate and from there she elicits respect,” she said.
If this wasn’t clear enough, she took to Twitter to declare, “Chandra Wilson may actually be the most amazing woman ever.”
With Oh finding more acclaim with the series Killing Eve and Wilson’s status on Grey’s Anatomy leaving fans wondering if she’ll be departing soon, it might be time for the two friends to have a mini-Grey’s reunion.
6 Got Together: Kate Walsh and David Sutcliffe
Kate Walsh took Seattle Grace by storm when she first appeared on Grey's Anatomy. Walsh described her character Addison as a “wicked b***h” and fans loved it. She became the first Grey’s Anatomy character to spin off.
The year 2007 might’ve been bittersweet for Walsh. Her spinoff, Private Practice debuted, and she married movie executive Alex Young. However, rumors flew that her former castmates resented Walsh because she was chosen for her own show instead of one of them.
On Private Practice, her character moves to sunny Southern California, and things seemed to heat up off set as well. David Sutcliffe of Gilmore Girls fame was introduced to the show as a steamy love interest for Walsh’s character.
Shortly after, Walsh and husband Young divorced due to irreconcilable differences. All told, the marriage lasted 14 months and shocked those who had recently seen the doting couple in public.
The gossip rags speculated that her on-set relationship with Sutcliffe was to blame.
An anonymous source offered as much to the press, saying, “"Kate really likes David… Kate and David had a real connection playing lovers on the show, and she didn't seem to have that with her own husband."
Connection or not, ten years on, whatever was between Walsh and Sutcliffe didn’t last. Walsh has had a series of high profile relationships, and while they may come and go, she’s found a novel way around heartbreak by making her own perfume line.
The name of her fragrance: “Boyfriend in a bottle.”
5 Just Friends: Sandra Oh and Kevin McKidd
Sandra Oh and Kevin McKidd played a married couple on Grey’s Anatomy, but behind the scenes they’re just friends.
They both came to Seattle Grace with respectable careers in movies. Oh had made a name for herself in the Canadian film industry with movies like Last Night and had a breakthrough role in the Oscar-winning Sideways before joining Grey’s Anatomy.
Kevin McKidd had toggled between movies and television in the UK, appearing in critically acclaimed films like Trainspotting before hopping across the pond to play Owen Hunt on the hospital drama.
While the two characters’ relationship didn’t last— McKidd’s Hunt went on to remarry on the show— they have remained friends during and after their time together on the show.
Oh delighted fans when she publicly joked, “My TV husband has a new TV wife?? Xqueez me? I don’t think so!” The two later shared pictures of a reunion dinner on Twitter.
Fans have been tempted to wish for a more intimate relationship. Wetpaint even went so far as to publish an affectionate and silly Twitter conversation in which the two tossed around loving terms such as “honey” and “babe.”
Both the stars have had rocky romantic lives, each coming to the end of long-term marriages in the last decade before finding love with someone new-- just not each other, despite fan’s desires.
4 Got Together: Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel
In Shondaland, it’s not uncommon for real life couples to find themselves on the same show playing very different characters. Such was the fate of Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel on Private Practice.
Both come from the theater world. They met while doing Rent and later married.
Diggs’ has had a busy, varied career, appearing in movies like Go and Chicago and working as a series regular on Private Practice. Menzel got a lot of media attention when John Travolta mangled her name at the Oscars but has had a diverse and impressive career spanning movies, TV, theater, video games, and live concerts.
It was during their marriage that Menzel had a guest spot on Private Practice, appearing in two episodes.
However, she wasn’t dating Diggs’ character. Instead, she was a love interest for Tim Daly. Adding meta to the magic, Diggs' character even supports Daly’s onscreen romance, a bit that winked at fans in the know.
Alas, in 2014 Diggs and Menzel called it quits for good. While they have been civil and friendly post-marriage, saying that what’s best for their son is all that matters, the split has made for some interesting press.
3 Just Friends: The Cast of Private Practice
Now that the show’s been off the air for years, it seems about time to acknowledge that Private Practice had one of the all-time great Shondaland ensembles.
Kate Walsh had proven her chops as Addison on Grey’s Anatomy, Tim Daly had been bouncing between drama and comedy for two decades, Taye Diggs, Audra McDonald, and Amy Brenneman had turned in solid work on stage and on the big screen.
Add in Shondaland mainstay Paul Adelstein, relative newcomers like KaDee Strickland, and latter season additions like Benjamin Bratt, and the cup runneth over.
When the series ended, Brenneman wrote a blog post on her website detailing how close the cast had grown over six seasons.
“Many, MANY families grew during Private Practice… Friends and family members passed away during the last six years, countless hugs on the set reflecting our collective concern. Folks got married, divorced, and reconciled… Last week I found myself alternately snuggling into my cast mates, hanging on for dear life – and wisecracking about others’ sentimentality” she wrote.
So, from time to time, it’s nice to see the old gang back together.
Walsh, Diggs, Adelstein, Brenneman, and Caterina Scorsone reunited for makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera’s wedding in 2016, posting their reunion photos to Instagram.
A year later, Brenneman and Walsh met up for a conversation streamed on Facebook Live to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Private Practice’s debut, with both proclaiming their adoration for Shonda Rhimes’ writing and even leaving the door open to future cameos in Shondaland.
2 Got Together: Katie Lowes and Adam Shapiro
On Scandal, Katie Lowes played the conflicted Quinn Perkins, a character with a painful past and a penchant for dating men who wind up deceased. Her love life made it on set when husband and fellow actor Adam Shapiro did a guest spot on Scandal.
Both actors have popped up in Shondaland. Lowes had guest spots on Private Practice and Grey’s Anatomy before becoming a series regular on Scandal. Shapiro had a memorable two-episode arc on the sixth season of Grey’s Anatomy.
The two have been happily married and working in the same spheres for a while, welcoming a son into the world in 2017. Unlike most real life Shondaland couples, they have played off each other on screen.
Shapiro guested on Scandal as Quinn’s ex, appearing in flashbacks as Lowes’ ill-fated ex whose demise sets into motion Lowes’ initial character arc. Having your spouse on set is one thing, but having them pass away onscreen while playing your significant other is a bit weird.
“Working with Adam was totally surreal and wonderful!” Lowes told TVLine.
Despite the macabre setup, the couple seemed to have a blast, keeping their onscreen pairing a secret from their family and further making Scandal a family affair by using their newborn to live tweet an episode.
1 Just Friends: Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight
Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight have a lot of shared experiences as Grey’s Anatomy alumni. It was during their tenure, and sometimes because of their behavior, that the show developed a reputation for inter-cast feuding and behind-the-scenes tension.
Both stars criticized the writing of their characters, and both left the show to pursue bigger things with underwhelming results. However, through it all, it seems like they’ve had each other’s backs.
In 2006, Patrick Dempsey and Isiah Washington had a backstage scuffle with the latter allegedly dropping a homophobic slur in reference to Knight.
Despite studio efforts to keep the drama mum, the press had a field day. Months later, when Heigl was asked about the incident, she didn’t mince words.
“T.R. is my best friend. I will throw down for that kid. I will beat you up. I will use every ounce of energy I have to take you down if you hurt his feelings," she stated.
While Heigl has admitted that she had a crush on Knight before she knew he was gay, today they seem to still be friends. This is probably for the best, considering that both are no longer in good graces with the powers of Shondaland.
Can you think of any other Shondaland stars who got together behind-the-scenes? Can you think of any others who are just friends? Let us know in the comments!
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