In the first major departure from Grey’s, Washington lost his job playing Preston Burke after reportedly using a homophobic slur in reference to T.R. Knight. After a recurring role on Bionic Woman and a few guest-starring spots, the actor was cast as Chancellor Thelonious Jaha on The CW’s The 100.
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After Heigl‘s infamously messy Grey’s exit, the actress behind Izzie Stevens starred in the NBC spy drama State of Affairs and the CBS legal drama Doubt, neither of which lasted beyond a solitary, 13-episode season. But now she’s back on the small screen as a new series regular on USA’s Suits, playing talented lawyer Samantha Wheeler.
National Geographic/Dusan Martincek
Knight spent five seasons playing George O’Malley on Grey’s before giving the role the old heave-ho. After recurring roles in The Good Wife, 11.22.63, The Catch, and When We Rise, the actor joined the cast of National Geographic’s Genius: Einstein, playing FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. And this year, he starred in Genius: Picasso, portraying French artist Max Jacob.
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Meanwhile, Callie Torres chased a pretty Penny to New York City at the end of Grey’s Season 10. But Ramirez didn’t stay off television for long: She’s now a series regular on the CBS political drama Madam Secretary, playing policy advisor Kat Sandoval.
Dane went from saving lives as Mark Sloan on Grey’s to saving the world as Admiral Tom Chandler on TNT’s military drama The Last Ship, which ended its five-season run in November. Along the way, he also starred in the Canadian action miniseries The Fixer.
Addison Montgomery headed for the sunnier climes of Los Angeles after Grey’s Season 3, with Walsh headlining the spinoff drama Private Practice for its six-season run. The actress then took a recurring role on FX’s Fargoand a lead role on NBC’s short-lived Bad Judge, but now she’s playing grieving mother Olivia Baker in the Netflix hit 13 Reasons Why.
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Dempsey left Grey’s in Season 11, leaving fans of Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd simply McDevastated. The actor joined the cast of the Epix miniseries The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair in August 2017 — opposite Damon Wayans Jr. and Virginia Madsen — but we’re still waiting on a U.S. air date.
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The actress formerly known as Lexie Grey opted out of Grey’s to spend more time with her family, and a few years later, she joined the cast of Supergirl, playing Alex Danvers, the older adoptive sister of the titular Kryptonian. Now that the CBS-turned-CW show is in the Arrowverse, Leigh has also popped up on Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow.
Given the enduring power of Grey's Anatomy, it's no surprise that alums of the ABC show would find more work after scrubbing out. But many of these actors' small-screen careers have taken surprising twists and turns.
Here's how nine former Grey's stars returned to TV… including new Netflix star Martin Henderson.