The Cast of 'Grey's Anatomy' Season 1: Where Are They Now?

Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang and Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey on 'Grey's Anatomy'

The people who were born when Grey's Anatomy premiered are now in their second or third year of college. The show is not just a hospital drama, but an institution at this point. But do you remember the beginning? The series revitalized Patrick Dempsey's career and made household names out of the Season 1 cast.

Grey's Anatomy was the show you had to watch every Sunday night (yes, it used to air on Sundays!) so you wouldn't miss out on the watercooler conversation in the office the next day. It brought all the great hospital drama of E.R. but was soapier and messier. You know what makes intense surgeries and emotional patient storylines more appealing? A side of on-call-room hookups and romantic speeches in the hospital elevator.

We are now wrapping Season 20 of Grey's Anatomy, which is an incredible accomplishment for the creative team and the fans who have followed along for two decades. To celebrate, Parade is looking back at Grey's Anatomy Season 1 and the fictional doctors that helped make this show iconic. Here's a look at the series regular actors from Grey's Anatomy Season 1 and where they are now.

Related: How Every Major 'Grey's Anatomy' Character Got Written Off the Show

The Stars of Grey's Anatomy Season 1: Where Are They Now?

Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey)

<p>IMAGO / Album</p>

IMAGO / Album

<p>Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic</p>

Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Then: Miranda Bailey, played by Chandra Wilson, started as chief resident of Meredith Grey's (Ellen Pompeo) intern class. Over the course of 20 seasons, Bailey has gone on to become an attending of general surgery, be chief of surgery, run her own clinic and is now back to teaching interns.

Where is she now: Miranda Bailey is still a doctor at Grey Sloan and Chandra Wilson is still playing her on Grey's Anatomy. However, Wilson has also taken on more responsibility behind the scenes. She is a co-executive producer on Grey's Anatomy as well as a frequent director, with 24 episodes under her belt. She's also helmed episodes of Scandal, The Fosters and Good Trouble.

James Pickens Jr. (Richard Webber)

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IMAGO / Album

<p>Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic</p>

Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Then: Richard (James Pickens Jr.) was the OG chief of surgery on Grey's Anatomy. He was everyone's boss, but his drinking nearly led to the loss of his entire career.

Where is he now: Richard eventually went to AA and has many years of sobriety under his belt. He's held many positions at Grey Sloan including head of the residency program and is still a surgeon at the hospital, played by James Pickens Jr. The actor has also played Richard Webber on both Grey's spin-offs, Private Practice and Station 19. He's also guest starred on The Conners, having appeared in its flagship series, Roseanne, and was the voice of Charles in The Proud Family revival in 2022.

Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey)

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IMAGO / Album

<p>Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage</p>

Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage

Then: Meredith Grey was the intern that started it all. She is the titular character of the show and was the member of her intern class to stay the longest at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.

Where is she now: Meredith took a job at the Catherine Fox Foundation at the end of Season 18 to work on a cure for Alzheimer's. Pompeo is still a guest star on the series, appearing in multiple episodes per season and still doing the voiceovers that bookend each episode. The actress has also taken on a co-executive producer credit on both Grey's Anatomy and Station 19. Pompeo can next be seen in the Orphan-inspired limited series Natalia on Hulu later this year.

Related: All About Ellen Pompeo’s New Series 'Natalia,' Which Is Based on a Creepy True Story

Patrick Dempsey (Derek Shepherd)

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IMAGO / Album

<p>Photo by Stefanie Keenan/WireImage</p>

Photo by Stefanie Keenan/WireImage

Then: Derek Shepherd earned the name McDreamy when he and Meredith set out on one of the most beloved TV romances of all time. Derek was the neuro attending at Grey Sloan for several years, surviving a hospital shooting and a plane crash, but then died in Season 11 after being hit by a truck after helping a woman injured on the side of the road.

Where is he now: Patrick Dempsey appeared in Bridget Jones' Baby immediately after leaving Grey's Anatomy. He then did the limited series The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, before returning to Grey's in 2021 for a guest arc. He played Derek in Meredith's visions while she was stuck in a COVID-19 coma. Most recently, Dempsey appeared in the 2023 film Ferrari opposite Adam Driver and Eli Roth's holiday horror film Thanksgiving.

Sandra Oh (Cristina Yang)

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IMAGO / Album

<p>Photo by John Nacion/Variety via Getty Images</p>

Photo by John Nacion/Variety via Getty Images

Then: Cristina was the most talented intern in Meredith's class (sorry, Mer!). The two could have been rivals, but Cristina's ambition pushed Meredith to be her best self. Cristina went on to become a celebrated heart surgeon, nominated for a Catherine Fox (then Harper Avery) Award. Sandra Oh left the show after the Season 10 finale in which Cristina took a job running her own hospital in Switzerland.

Where is she now: Sandra Oh potentially has the most successful post-Grey's Anatomy resume. She became the first actress of Asian descent to win the Lead Actress in a Television Series - Drama Golden Globe in 2019 for Killing Eve. Her other credits include lending her voice for Disney's Turning Red, The Chair on Netflix and most recently appearing in HBO's The Sympathizer opposite Robert Downey Jr.

Justin Chambers (Alex Karev)

<p>Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images</p>

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Then: Alex Karev was the bad-boy intern turned beloved pediatric surgeon on Grey's. Once Cristina left, he and Meredith were the only members of their intern class remaining on the show. After marrying Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington), Alex abruptly left Seattle in Season 16 to reunite with Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) off-screen. He was last seen during the 350th episode of the series.

Where is he now: Chambers' sudden exit from the series prompted a lot of questions that frankly still haven't been answered. The actor said he wanted to leave the show to diversify his acting choices and that "there's no good time to say goodbye to a show and a character that has defined so much of my life." Since leaving the show, Chambers played Marlon Brando in the Paramount+ limited series The Offer about the making of The Godfather.

Katherine Heigl (Izzie Stevens)

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IMAGO / Album

<p>Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images For CMT</p>

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images For CMT

Then: Izzie Stevens was one of the most compassionate interns in Meredith's original class. Her big heart often got her in trouble, whether it was operating on deer or cutting a patient's LVAD wire to move him up on the transplant list (RIP Denny). Heigl won a Primetime Emmy for her early work on Grey's Anatomy, but her controversial statements after the big win, including withdrawing herself from the race in 2008 because she claimed the Grey's writers hadn't given her anything worth submitting, led to a reputational hit. Heigl officially left the series in 2010, citing wanting to spend more time with her family. Her contract was renegotiated so that she could leave part way through Season 6.

Where is she now: Heigl went on to star in multiple movies and TV shows in her post-Grey's Anatomy career. She starred opposite Josh Duhamel in 2010's Life As We Know It and returned to TV in 2014 to head up the short-lived NBC drama State of Affairs. Heigl also headlined the CBS legal drama Doubt and played Samantha Wheeler in the final seasons of Suits. Heigl reunited with her Grey's Anatomy co-stars at the 2023 Emmys to celebrate the series' legacy.

T.R. Knight (George O'Malley)

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IMAGO / Album

<p>Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images</p>

Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images

Then: George (T.R. Knight) was one of the most beloved interns in Meredith's class. He was a little clumsy, earning the nickname 007 during his first year, but quickly wormed his way into everyone's hearts. Knight left the series in 2009 after his screentime and George's storylines were reduced on the show. "Leaving Grey's Anatomy was not an easy decision for me to make. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to play this character and will miss my fellow cast and crew very much," the actor said in a statement at the time.

Where is he now: Knight left Grey's and went to Broadway for a spell before returning to the silver screen in the Jackie Robinson bio-pic 42. He followed that up with a gust-starring arc on The Good Wife and then appeared in the Stephen King mini-series 11.22.63. He reunited with Shonda Rhimes in the 2017 ABC series The Catch and returned to Grey's Anatomy during Season 17 when Meredith was in her COVID-19 coma and saw the important people she had lost over the years in her coma dreams. Knight most recently appeared in The Flight Attendant with Kaley Cuoco and the indie film Adam the First.

Isaiah Washington (Preston Burke)

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IMAGO / Album

<p>Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images</p>

Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Then: Derek Shepherd wasn't the only hospital attending with a thing for interns. Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) also struck up a relationship with Cristina Yang in the early seasons of the show. The couple almost got married, but Burke left Cristina at the alter in the Season 3 finale. Washington was written out of the show after using a homophobic slur referencing T.R. Knight during an on-set argument with Patrick Dempsey.

Where is he now: Washington has appeared on several TV shows since leaving Grey's Anatomy, most notably Survivor's Remorse on Starz and in a series regular role on the CW's post-apocalyptic drama The 100. He returned to Grey's Anatomy in 2014 for Sandra Oh's final episode. Burke was the one to offer her the job at the hospital in Switzerland. Washington's most recent credits include the critically acclaimed series P-Valley, and he will next be seen in the prison thriller film Escape from Blackwater.

Grey's Anatomy continues Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

Next, 'Grey's Anatomy' Renewed for Season 21: What to Know