As the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy hits their milestone 400th episode, the stars of the series shared their thoughts on its longevity at an event celebrating hitting this television landmark.
Ellen Pompeo, who has played Dr. Meredith Grey since the first episode aired in 2005, said that she believes the show resonated with viewers for a very simple reason. ““We make people cry, and everyone loves a good cry.”
Going a little more in-depth, James Pickens Jr., who’s played Dr. Richard Burke for the run of the series, says, “It’s the storytelling.”
He cites creator Shonda Rhimes for this, saying that she’s, “so brilliant in putting these amazing characters together in this world. We’ve watched them orbit the sun [who is] the Meredith Grey character. And, we watched them all interact in a way that [viewers] hadn’t seen before.”
He adds that reaching 400 episodes is really,” a tribute to Shonda Rhimes brilliance.”
Reflecting back to the very beginning of the series, Pickens Jr. says that no one could have imagined that the series would be on the air this long. In fact, when he got the call to audition the series didn’t even have a title. He was just told it was medial drama.
And, he personally couldn’t foresee that this would be a show that had such longevity. At the time he read for the part, he admits that all he was thinking about was finding his next job.
Along those same lines, Kevin McKidd, who plays Dr. Owen Hunt, says that hitting this milestone feels like, “a once in a lifetime thing for an actor. “
It was a team effort, he says. “We all worked together to get here, and it feels like the show now is bigger than all of us.”
Camillia Luddington, Dr Jo Wilson on the series, was skeptical that Grey’s would hit this high mark, as she says, “I honestly never thought that we would get to 400. It’s very rare.”
The two-hour 400th episode is airing as the season 18 finale, with the storyline of the episode about a blood shortage that causes the staff to make risky decisions regarding their patients.
Pickens Jr. believes that while the show has its life-and-death health stories, that’s not really what really keeps viewers coming back week after week, he says, “[Yeah], it’s a medical drama, but I think the human part is what really grabbed hold of the audience.”
McKidd says that it’s hard to define what it is that the series has that makes it so popular and has kept it on the air all these years, but he believes, “There’s a thing, an X-factor that nobody will ever know.”
The 400th episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ airs Thursday, May 26th beginning at 8e/p on ABC. The episode will be available for streaming the next day on Hulu.