Grey’s Anatomy: The 3 Most Toxic Behind-The-Scenes Moments From ABC’s Medical Drama


Grey’s Anatomy is the longest-running medical drama of all time on television. Premiering in 2005, the ABC series is followed by legions of loyal fans who remain hooked to their screens season after season to this day. While the fascinating stories of the hit show have captivated viewers’ attention, some controversial behind-the-scenes cases involving the main cast have also done so.

The series created by Shonda Rhimes and starring Ellen Pompeo, over the years has been characterized by its stories full of strange medical cases, a lot of drama and complicated romances. However, his 18 seasons have not been in vain when it comes to behind-the-scenes scandals, including the firing of Isaiah Washington (Preston Burke) after a fight on set; the public discussion of Katherine Heigl (Izzie Stevens) with the creator of the series and even the problems caused by Patrick Dempsey (Derek Shepherd).

At the end of Grey’s Anatomy season 2, Isaiah Washington was fired after a heated argument with co-star Patrick Dempsey, after the Preston Burke performer targeted actor T.R. Knight (George O’Malley) with a homophobic slur. Washington reportedly said that was never the intention, but admitted to swearing at Dempsey. Some say there were even physical attacks.

Another of the Grey’s Anatomy cast members who was the subject of controversy in the past was Katherine Heigl, who decided to abruptly leave her role as Izzie Stevens in the middle of season 6. The actress publicly complained about the long hours she worked on the set of shooting.

Another event in which the former Grey’s Anatomy actress was involved was in the altercation with Shonda Rhimes, after Heigl withdrew her name from the Emmy nomination, claiming that she had not received enough plot material to justify her participation in the contest.

And it is that Patrick Dempsey was no exception when it came to the behind-the-scenes scandals of Grey’s Anatomy. In the 2021 book How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy, author Lynette Rice described how Grey’s original executive producer, James D. Parriott, after his long absence from the show had to return to step in as consequence of bad behavior on the set by the interpreter of Derek Shepherd, who, using his enormous popularity, caused human resources problems.

“Shonda needed an OG to come in as sort of a showrunner for fourteen episodes. There were human resource problems. She was not sexual in any way. Somehow [Patrick Dempsey] was terrorizing the set. Some cast members had all kinds of post-traumatic stress with him. He had this control on set where he knew he could stop production and scare people. The network and the studio went offline and we had sessions with them. I think I was just done with the show. He didn’t like the inconvenience of coming in every day and working. He and Shonda were at each other’s throats.”