10 Amazing ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Guest Stars, From Phylicia Rashad (Who’s Coming Back!) to Rita Moreno


Among the many familiar faces joining Grey’s Anatomy’s 17th (and perhaps final) season is one who has a family connection: The Cosby Show alum Phylicia Rashad, the sister of Grey’s star and producer Debbie Allen. Rashad, who previously voiced a character in Grey’s spinoff Station 19, will guest-star in Episode 12.

But Rashad is just one of many actors to bring serious star power to Grey’s. The ABC medical drama has hosted Oscar winners, Emmy favorites, and Tony honorees over the years. (And don’t forget about the time the one and only Denzel Washington directed an episode.)

Will 'Grey's Anatomy' End With Season 17? It Seems Like a Real PossibilitySee Also

Will 'Grey's Anatomy' End With Season 17? It Seems Like a Real Possibility

Showrunner Krista Vernoff is planning a season finale that could just be the end of things.

Scroll down to see other acting legends who have played Grey Sloan patients and surgeons on the show, from Faye Dunaway to Bernadette Peters.

Grey’s Anatomy, Midseason Return, Thursday, March 4, 9/8c, ABC


Diahann Carroll

This late Golden Globe and Tony winner—who broke color barriers on TV when she was cast in the lead role in the NBC sitcom Julia—played Burke’s (Isaiah Washington) overbearing mother, Jane, in Seasons 3 and 4. You might remember she shaved off Cristina’s (Sandra Oh) eyebrows before Cristina and Burke’s doomed wedding!


Geena Davis

Davis played a dog trainer in The Accidental Tourist (for which she won an Oscar), a woman on the run in Thelma and Louise and baseball player in A League of Their Own. On Grey’s, she recurred in Seasons 11 and 14 as fetal surgeon Nicole Herman, a doc who mentors (and is saved by) Arizona (Jessica Capshaw).


Tyne Daly

The star of the CBS procedural Cagney & Lacey (for which she won the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy three years in a row) played Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and Amelia’s (Caterina Scorsone) mother, Carolyn Shepherd, in a Season 5 episode. Ten seasons later, she reprised the part.


Faye Dunaway

This Oscar-winning star of Network—also known for her roles in the films Bonnie and Clyde and Chinatown—guest-starred in Season 5 as Margaret Campbell, a general surgeon who realizes it’s time to retire the scalpel when she makes a near-fatal mistake in the operating room.


Héctor Elizondo

Elizondo appeared in five Grey’s episodes between Seasons 3 and 10. The Emmy-winning star of the CBS medical drama Chicago Hope played Callie’s (Sara Ramirez) father, Carlos, who infamously tried to “pray away the gay” after she came out to him as bisexual.


Hal Holbrook

The late five-time Emmy winner — perhaps best known for playing Mark Twain in a one-man show — guest-starred in a Season 13 episode as Lewis Hatch, the doting husband of an injured hiker named Elsie (played by Oscar nominee June Squibb).


Laurie Metcalf

You likely know her best for her Emmy-winning role as Jackie Harris on the ABC sitcoms Roseanne and The Conners, but Metcalf also appeared in Season 2, playing metastatic cancer patient Beatrice Carver. (Fun fact: She was formerly married to Jeff Perry, who played Thatcher Grey on Grey’s.)


Rita Moreno

This EGOT winner—who broke out in the classic musical films Singin’ in the Rain, The King and I, and West Side Story—appeared in a Season 12 episode. She filled the role of Gayle McColl, the estranged wife of a man who didn’t remember their decades-long separation after an intracranial bleed.


Sarah Paulson

This acclaimed, Emmy-winning star of Ratched, American Horror Story, and American Crime Story is one of the actresses who scrubbed in as Ellis Grey, Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) mom. In Season 6, Paulson played Ellis in flashbacks as the surgeon treated a patient in the early days of AIDS.


Bernadette Peters

She’s a long way from Broadway! In Season 5, the two-time Tony winning star of the Great White Way (known for Into the Woods, Annie Get Your Gun, and Gypsy) played Sarabeth Breyers, a woman whose car accident injuries weren’t as painful as her husband’s infidelity.