To say that Shonda Rhimes' medical drama Grey's Anatomy has been a success would be an understatement. The show kicked off in 2005 and is still going strong, with plenty of fans who have been there since the beginning and many more who jumped on the fan bandwagon along the way.
The cast changes from season to season, but there have been a few there since the beginning, like Meredith Grey and Alex Karev. The medical mysteries are intense, the relationships are crazy, and it seems there's always something totally over the top happening. We wouldn't have it any other way.
Even the most devoted fan may not know every single detail about the show though, and there's plenty of interesting facts. Here are just 20 juicy secrets that fans weren't supposed to know about. Shonda Rhimes truly is a television queen!
20 Derek Was Initially Going To Have A Teenager Daughter
If you thought that season 1 ending with Derek's wife Addison showing up was a shock, just imagine how the initial plot would have unfolded! At first, Rhimes wanted to give Derek a teenage daughter with his ex to complicate things. In the end, though, she decided that the marriage angle was plenty of drama to kick things off.
19 It All Started Because Shonda Rhimes Loved Surgical Shows On The Discovery Channel
It's always fascinating to find out how writers are inspired to create certain shows. In Rhimes' case, she didn't start by thinking of the relationship drama. She first got inspired to write a medical show because she loved watching surgical shows on Discovery Channel. However, she wanted to add a little drama beyond the medicine. Thus, Grey's Anatomy was born.
18 Miranda Bailey Was Initially Supposed To Be A Petite Blonde
We can't imagine anyone but Chandra Wilson playing the incomparable Miranda Bailey. However, the role almost went to someone totally different. At first, Bailey was supposed to be "a tiny blonde with curls," and they were considering actresses like Kristin Chenoweth. When Wilson walked in, though, Rhimes immediately knew she had found her Bailey.
17 Various Cities Were Considered As Locations Before Seattle
When Rhimes was trying to decide where to set the show, she had a few different ideas. She knew that she wanted it to be a big city, and considered spots like New York City, Boston and Philadelphia. She liked the idea of Chicago, but many worried that it would lead Grey's Anatomy to be compared with ER. Ultimately, she settled on Seattle as the perfect urban location.
16 Alex Karev Wasn't Initially Part Of The Show
It's hard to imagine the show without Alex Karev. Sure, he was a bit abrasive at first, but eventually fans grew to absolutely adore him. He's one of the few characters who has been there from the very beginning. However, it turns out, he wasn't actually there from the very, very beginning. The pilot was shot without him, and he had to be added in when they decided they wanted Karev on the show.
15 Jessica Capshaw Auditioned For Two Other Roles On The Show Before Getting Arizona
Plenty of actors and actresses probably wanted a spot on the popular show, but Jessica Capshaw was more determined than most. Fans will know her as the bubbly Arizona Robbins, but she actually auditioned twice before getting that role. The first was for one of Derek's love interests, Nurse Rose. Then, she auditioned for Sadie, Meredith's bold friend from college.
14 Meredith's Childhood Home Is An Actual House In Seattle
Fans who have seen behind the scenes footage of the show being filmed will know it's shot on a Los Angeles sound stage. However, there is one part of it that's authentic to Seattle. Meredith's childhood home that she first lives in with all her intern roommates is actually a real house in Queen Anne Hill, Seattle.
13 Chyler Leigh Stayed Under The Plane Crash Wreckage For Two Full Days To Film The Scene
It takes a lot of effort and emotional strength to film difficult scenes, like the dramatic plane crash scene. However, Chyler Leigh took things to a whole new level with her commitment. The scene was complex to film and had a lot of moving pieces, so Leigh ended up actually staying under the wreckage for nearly two full days while they got all the shots they needed.
12 A Lot Of The Medical Storylines Are Found In Actual Medical Journals
Shonda Rhimes is responsible for coming up with all the crazy relationship twists and disasters happening at the hospital. The actual medical cases, though, often come from other sources, like real medical journals the writers read. After all, Rhimes herself doesn't have medical training, so she needs to find inspiration elsewhere. Then, she adds a little flair into the mix.
11 The 'Blood' And 'Organs' Are Made Of Chicken Fat And Red Gelatin, Among Other Things
There are plenty of scenes on the show where the doctors are in the operating room, up close and personal with some organs. How do they get it to look so real? Well, apparently, it's a combination of animal organs, and a fake blood mixture that's crafted from chicken fat and red gelatin.
10 The Names On The OR Board Are Names Of Crew Members On The Show
If you've ever wondered how they come up with so many names to put on the OR board, the answer is simple — they don't come up with fake names for every switched OR board. Instead, they simply fill the board with names of the crew members working on the show. It's an easy solution, and it's probably fun for the crew to see their name in scenes every now and then.
9 The Show's Name Was Changed Three Times Before Deciding On The Actual Title
Grey's Anatomy seems like the perfect name for the show. It references the main character, and also a classic medical text. However, it wasn't the immediate choice for the show — it wasn't even the second choice. Before they settled on the title, Rhimes considered Doctors, Surgeons and Complications. None of those are as good as the final title!
8 Nurse Bokhee Is A Surgical Nurse In Real Life
While she wasn't exactly a main character, a particular nurse, Bokhee, has appeared in many episodes of the show in the background. And it turns out, she knew her way around an operating room better than any of the actors to start out — she's a surgical nurse in real life! Sandra Oh revealed the fact in a tweet, and even commented "she's like my 2nd mom."
7 Every Episode Except One Is Named After A Song
Music is definitely an integral part of the show. Rhimes decided it was so important that she actually named every episode after a song. There's just one exception — the episode that dealt with Jo Wilson's past, which in a powerful move, was titled after the number for the domestic violence hotline.
6 Rob Lowe Was Offered The Part Of Dr. Shepherd — And Turned It Down
It's tough to imagine anyone but Patrick Dempsey playing the role of McDreamy, but it turns out he wasn't the first offered the role. Apparently, actor Rob Lowe was offered the part of Derek, and actually turned it down for another show. Needless to say, the show he picked wasn't nearly as successful as Grey's Anatomy ended up becoming.
5 Sarah Drew Went Into Labor Just Hours After Filming Her Labor Scene
The intense labor and delivery scene that Sarah Drew shot would have been tough for any actress, let alone one who was pregnant in real life. However, Drew's day got a whole lot crazier when she wrapped that scene. Just a few hours after going into fake labor as April Kepner, she went into real labor herself!
4 Shonda Is Willing To Do The Show As Long As Ellen Pompeo Wants To
At this point, it almost seems like Grey's Anatomy will be on the air forever. There's always new characters being introduced, and there's no shortage of dramatic medical storylines. However, Rhimes has shared before that she will end it when and if Ellen Pompeo decides she's had enough of playing Meredith Grey. Until then, the episodes will keep coming.
3 Shonda Doesn't Write Physical Descriptions Of Characters
Writing physical descriptions of characters doesn't seem that unusual, but it's something that Rhimes has decided she's not going to do anymore. After she cast someone totally opposite than her initial imagining for Miranda Bailey, she decided to discard any physical markers in her casting, and instead just focus on feelings that characters should give off.
2 Bailey's X-Rated Euphemism Came From An Assistant On Set
If you assumed that the cheeky euphemism Dr. Bailey used to describe a certain body part came from the writers' room, you'd be wrong. In actuality, the term came from an assistant on set. Rhimes told Oprah that she heard the assistant use the term at one point, and decided she had to incorporate it in the script.
1 The Helipad Scenes Are Filmed At A Seattle Television Station
There have been some majorly dramatic scenes filmed on the rooftop when the helicopter is coming in with a patient. However, those scenes aren't filmed on the same set where everything else is filmed — that's not Los Angeles in the background. The helicopter landing pad footage is actually shot at KOMO-TV, a local Seattle ABC affiliate station.
References: Elite Daily, Elle, Buzzfeed, Insider, The Wrap