VOICE OVER: Sophia Franklin
WRITTEN BY: Jesse Singer
"Grey's Anatomy" is full of feuds and drama, but in front of and behind the camera. Our countdown includes Ellen Pompeo vs. Katherine Heigl, Eric Dane vs. Shonda Rhimes, Kate Walsh vs. Everyone, and more!
Top 10 Grey's Anatomy Cast Feuds and Drama
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Grey’s Anatomy Cast Feuds and Drama.
For this list, we’ll be counting down our picks for the most explosive off-screen fights, arguments or instances of drama that have been reported from behind the scenes of the hit medical drama.
Do you remember these disputes? Let us know what you think of them in the comments below.
#10: Ellen Pompeo vs. Katherine Heigl
The cast of “Grey’s Anatomy” practically became famous overnight. One of the show’s stars was Katherine Heigl, who then found further success in movies like “Knocked Up” and “27 Dresses.” She ended up leaving the show in 2010. While she had more success that same year with “Life as We Know It,”, it was essentially her last hit film. The show’s biggest name, Ellen Pompeo, once used that to toss some shade at her ex-cast mate. The actress said she understood why Katherine would choose the millions of film dollars, but said she shouldn’t have renewed her contract to begging with. According to Pompeo, Heigl “re-upped, took a big raise and then tried to get off the show. And then her movie career did not take off.”
#9: Katherine Heigl vs. Isaiah Washington
In 2007, Isaiah Washington came under fire for allegedly utterring a homophobic slur on the Grey’s set. And it seems he used the derogatory term to refer to T.R. Knight, better known to fans of the show as Dr. George O'Malley. Heigl and Knight were close friends. And even though Washington apologized, she wasn’t buying it. Instead, she commented that he “needs to just not speak in public.” Shortly after the incident, the man who had brought Dr. Burke to life was largely written off the show. But although he was gone, the actor never forgot the incident. In 2020, he tweeted about Heigl’s old comments, saying “I will NEVER stop exercising my free speech.”
#8: Brooke Smith vs. ABC Executives
These days, it’s hard to imagine an actor getting kicked off a show because their character was part of the LGBTQ+ community. But many people believe that’s what happened to Brooke Smith in 2008. She played Dr. Erica Hahn, a character who began dating Dr. Callie Torres. The duo even earned the ship name “Callica”! According to sources at the time, executives at ABC weren’t fans of the character, and weren’t comfortable with how blunt the relationship was getting. It’s been claimed that Shonda had no real say in the matter, though she’s stated that the character’s sexuality had nothing to do with her departure. Sadly, Hahn didn’t even get a proper send-off -- and none of us got any real closure.
#7: Eric Dane vs. Shonda Rhimes
We all remember Donald Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape. And when that vile clip was released, Grey's creator Shonda Rhimes spoke out. Namely, she took issue with men using the fact that they have wives and daughters to denounce his words. Instead, she felt they should do so simply because it’s wrong, without any caveats. That seems pretty valid to us. Yet Eric Dane - who had left the show years earlier - became McBitter, seemingly slamming both Trump and his former boss on Twitter. The man behind McSteamy later elaborated, tweeting that he loves Shonda and was just trying to condemn Trump. We have to say, we’re still a little McConfused.
#6: Kate Walsh vs. Everyone
When a show is as big as “Grey’s Anatomy”, the odds of a spin-off are pretty high. And it only took a couple of years for us to get “Private Practice”. The show spun off Kate Walsh’s character Dr. Addison Montgomery, and sent her from Seattle Grace to a private medical practice in L.A. Maybe you’d think that her cast mates were happy for her. Yet apparently they were jealous, and felt that they should’ve been the ones getting this recognition. Even Ellen Pompeo was reportedly P.O’d that she didn’t get a say in the matter, considering she’s such a big part of the series. But there seems to be no lasting ill will, as Walsh recently reprised her role on “Grey’s”.
#5: Ellen Pompeo vs. Former Cast Members
According to Ellen Pompeo, the way a character leaves the show is directly related to the type of person the actor who plays them is. She made the claim back in 2018 when discussing Dr. Arizona Robbins and Dr. April Kepner’s last episodes, which were imminent at the time. The two characters were played by Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew, respectively. Pompeo confirmed that their exits wouldn’t be tragic, saying, “you only get killed off when your behavior is bad. If you're a nice actor, you die nice.” She then referenced how Sandra Oh got a touching, non-horrific, send-off. She didn’t say it, but we can all think of a pretty dreadful character death that’s taking on a whole new meaning now.
#4: T.R. Knight vs. Shonda Rhimes
The incident that led to T.R. Knight being somewhat forced out of the closet is one we’ll get to soon. However, according to the actor, the time immediately preceding his public coming out was fraught. In fact, he claims that Shonda Rhimes was one of the people who wasn’t quite on board. But according to her, that’s not how it went down at all. Rhimes claims that she told Knight they would support whatever choice he made. And when he told them he was going to do it, Shonda says that she was extremely proud of his decision. Sadly, we may never know the full story here.
#3: Ellen Pompeo vs. Everyone
Ellen Pompeo has appeared on our list multiple times now, and she always seems to be the one throwing shade. Still, she remains above the fray — in her mind, at least. As further proof, Pompeo called out all the fighting in 2013, but removed herself from it. When the 200th episode was just around the corner, she looked back on all the drama in an article with the New York Post. She cited the quick success and money that comes with being on “Grey’s”, combined with “hurt feelings”, as the impetus for things getting out of hand. However, she claims that she simply put her head down, focused on her work, and did her best to block out the rest.
#2: Isaiah Washington vs. T.R. Knight
Of all the feuds that have plagued “Grey’s Anatomy” over the years, the Isaiah Washington/T.R. Knight drama is amongst those that even non-Grey’s fans probably know about. It all started with a physical altercation on-set between Washington and Patrick Dempsey, during which the former actor is said to have spoken a homophobic slur. To make matters worse, he was reportedly referencing fellow castmate T.R. Knight. Though most of the set knew Knight was gay, the actor hadn’t yet come out to the rest of the world. Of course, Washington’s comments got him written off the show. But when news of what he said leaked, it essentially forced Knight to come out publicly.
#1: Katherine Heigl vs. Shonda Rhimes
In 2007, Katherine Heigl won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. In 2008, instead of possibly winning again, she removed her name from consideration. She stated that she “did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination”. Well, that obviously didn’t sit too well with some of the people behind the scenes. Whether or not her relationship with Rhimes as strained before Heigl’s Emmy comments, we may never know. But it definitely was afterward. By 2010, Heigl was done at Seattle Grace. And speaking of grace, she has since acknowledged that she should’ve proceeded with more of it at the time. We live and we learn!