7 Casting Decisions That Would've Changed 'Grey's Anatomy' Completely (PHOTOS)

arrow - left
arrow - right
George Pimentel/WireImage; Arnold Jerocki/WireImage; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
George Pimentel/WireImage; Bob D'Amico/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Sandra Oh/Miranda Bailey

Sandra Oh will always be our Cristina Yang, but she was actually offered the role of Miranda Bailey first. Oh decided she wanted to play Cristina instead, and the producers said yes.

Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic; Frank Ockenfels/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Justin Chambers/Alex Karev

We can’t imagine a Grey’s world without Alex Karev, but Justin Chambers was actually cast as the character after they had already shot the pilot. Creator Shonda Rhimes and the other producers decided they needed another male character, so they cast Justin and added his scenes into the already shot episode.

Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images; Bob D'Amico/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Ellen Pompeo/Meredith Grey

Can you picture Grey’s without Ellen Pompeo? We can’t either, though it sounds like we were close to that being a reality! Ellen was initially not interested in doing television when the show was casting, but she was told by people close to her there was a chance the series wouldn’t even get picked up. She said yes, and well, the rest is history!

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic; Bob D'Amico/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Isaiah Washington/Derek Shepherd

Before landing his role as Dr. Preston Burke, Isaiah Washington first auditioned for the role of Derek Shepherd. They decided to go with Patrick Dempsey instead, but they offered Isaiah the role of Burke.

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic; Bob D'Amico/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Kate Walsh/Addison Montgomery

Kate Walsh’s initial appearance as Addison Montgomery back in Season 1 will always be iconic, but she was actually only supposed to appear on the show for a few episodes. However, Shonda and the producers loved Kate and thought they could do more with her character. She ended up staying on Grey’s until the end of Season 3, and then she moved on to Private Practice.

Arnold Jerocki/WireImage; Bob D'Amico/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Rob Lowe/Derek Shepherd

Rob Lowe recently revealed he was initially offered the role of Derek Shepherd, but he ultimately turned it down to do another medical drama called Dr. Vegas. Unfortunately that show only ran for 10 episodes, but it sounds like it was all meant to be in the end.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic; Richard Cartwright/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Jessica Capshaw/Nurse Rose

Prior to being cast as Dr. Arizona Robbins back in Season 5, Jessica Capshaw auditioned to play Nurse Rose, the character who dates Derek Shepherd for a few episodes. She didn’t get that role, but we’d say it worked out well, as she ended up playing Arizona for 10 seasons.

1 of

Grey’s Anatomy has seen a lot of characters come and go over the course of the 15 seasons it's been on the air, but it's hard to imagine the show being anything different.

While we all have our favorite characters, the show could’ve ended up very different if certain casting decisions went a different way. Some of our favorites could have been played by completely different actors (or at least some familiar faces in different roles).

Check out the gallery above to find out the actor who almost played Derek Shepherd, as well as the role Sandra Oh almost had!

Grey's Anatomy, Season 16 Premiere, Thursday, September 25, 8/7c, ABC