There's a reason why Grey's Anatomy is the longest-running primetime medical drama of all time. Since 2005, the show has offered viewers suspenseful health mysteries, interoffice love stories, epic laughs, and much-needed sobs. In honor of one of the most popular shows of all time, we've rounded up 45 behind-the-scenes photos from the set of the show—from the pilot episode all the way to the current season. (Yes, there are 16 of them and counting.)
Back in 2005, it was hard to predict that a medical drama about residents at a Seattle hospital would become the longest-running primetime show on television. But that's exactly what happened. This is one of the first photos from the set of the series 15 years ago.
After the first episode, the casting seemed *chef's kiss* perfect. We later found out that Sandra Oh was originally offered the role of Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson), but asked to audition for Cristina instead. Meanwhile, show creator Shonda Rhimes added the part of Alex Karev a year after the pilot was shot.
Ellen Pompeo is the highest-paid actress on TV thanks to Meredith Grey—but she almost turned it down.
"I was offered the role of Meredith. I had done a movie for the studio called Moonlight Mile, so the studio was aware of me. Then...I met Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman...We sat down and talked about me possibly doing an arc on Alias. That didn't happen. Bob and Alex wrote a show called Secret Service," Pompeo told TV Guide. "I really wanted to do that and the studio really wanted me to do Grey's instead. I wanted to do the Secret Service pilot that didn't go, of course; me and my brilliant choices. I read Grey's and I went and met Shonda and I decided to come on and do this. It was just an invitation and I happily accepted."
There was a lot of pressure put on Chandra Wilson to nail the role of Miranda Bailey, as the character was based on Shonda Rhimes's mother—you know, the show's creator, executive producer, and head writer. "She's very no-nonsense. Dr. Bailey says stuff like 'These people are nasty—all they think about is sex while we're trying to save lives here.' My mother is definitely that kind of realist," Rhimes told O, The Oprah Magazine.
The patient's rooms, the doctor's lounge, and the apartments are filmed on Los Angeles sets. However, a real hospital set is used at times to bring Seattle Grace to life.
The crew of Grey's Anatomy use aerial cameras to film the scenes on the operating table and the producers consult with medical professionals to make sure it all looks realistic.
The president of Touchstone Television joins the cast and crew in-between takes to congratulate them on their Golden Globe nominations after their first season.
The show's mastermind, Shonda Rhimes (center), poses with actors Richard Roundtree and Diahann Carroll. Rhimes has gone on to be the showrunner for many successful series on ABC, including Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder.
In the second season, the show welcomed Eric Dane who played Dr. Mark Sloane (a.k.a. McSteamy). Dane started out as a guest star on the series and ended up becoming a central character up until his character's death in season nine.
Chandra Wilson meets with executives from the show's Japanese broadcaster, Wowow, on the set of Grey's Anatomy in 2006.
Sandra Oh carries an umbrella while on location in Los Angeles with costar Kevin McKidd. The crew used a rain machine to replicate the weather needed for the scene.
Actress Katherine Heigl gets advice from Grey's Anatomy's technical director as they prepare to film a car accident scene.
Shonda Rhimes told O, The Oprah Magazine that she didn't intentionally cast any of the characters for a specific race, she just went with the best actors for the role: "We read every color actor for every single part. My goal was simply to cast the best actors."
Ellen Pompeo shared an Instagram of her and costar Sandra Oh joking around in the makeup trailer.
Shonda Rhimes poses on the set of Grey's Anatomy with a few of the show's producers as they celebrate the filming of their 100th episode—a huge milestone.
Patrick Dempsey and Chandra Wilson goof around with the celebratory cake during the celebration of the 100th episode.
After eating cake, the cast, producers, and crew get to work creating the milestone 100th episode for audiences.
Katherine Heigl's character, Izzie, was beloved by fans—however, the actress left the show in the midst of drama. After refusing an Emmy nomination because she didn't think the show's writing warranted her one, Heigl's character was written out of the show at the end of season six.
While on a break from shooting, Eric Dane checks his phone as he walks around set in bloody scrubs after filming a scene on location in Los Angeles.
Actor Scott Foley records a song for a Grey's Anatomy episode that doubled as a musical event in season seven.
Sara Ramirez goes over her script one more time before shooting a scene in which her character is in the operating room sans scrubs.
Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw sit in a car in front of a green screen that's used to simulate that they're driving on a road. TV magic!
Ellen Pompeo talks to a member of the crew as she shoots a scene on location in Los Angeles. Instead of wearing her usual scrubs, she wore a camel colored suit and heels.
In 2012, Camilla Luddington, Gaius Charles, and Tina Majorino were the new faces around Seattle Grace—and many have come and gone since. Today, Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson, and James Pickens Jr. are the only three original cast members still on the show.
Shonda Rhimes shared an Instagram of Justin Chambers (left), Sandra Oh (center), and Tessa Ferrer (right) during a table read with the cast.
Chandra Wilson tried her hand at directing for the episode "Transplant Wasteland." Here, the actress is seen giving notes to Patrick Dempsey, while another actor gets their makeup touched up off-screen.
Actor Jesse Williams runs lines with Sara Ramirez, Sandra Oh, and Jessica Capshaw before shooting in Seattle Grace's conference room.
This behind-the-scenes photo reveals the film crew driving an ATV in front of actor Kevin McKidd to capture his character, Owen Hunt, on a run.
Similarly, Patrick Dempsey is photographed inside his character's car as a film crew rides alongside him.