As with any long-running television show, the cast changes over the years. Ellen Pompeo, star of "Grey's Anatomy," revealed on Monday which show departures affected her the most.
Speaking with Dax Shepard on his podcast Armchair Expert, the 50-year-old actress, who plays Dr. Meredith Grey, opened up about her feelings towards the show entering its 17th season and about being one of its last remaining original actors.
Pompeo, who has 363 episodes under her belt, said she once questioned staying with the show following the departures of Sandra Oh and Patrick Dempsey.
When Oh, who played fan favorite Dr. Cristina Yang, exited after the 10th season, Pompeo had a pang of fear over the show's future and found herself wondering, "Is there a show without Sandra?"
It also caused Pompeo to weigh her options because, she said, "you never doubt whether Sandra Oh is gonna work again, right? She'll work forever, right? But for me, I had to think, 'Am I gonna work again? Or am I going to be so typecast?'"
Thankfully, Pompeo decided to stick with "Grey's Anatomy" and went on to become the highest paid television actress, earning $20 million a year.
That drive to assert herself, especially during contract negotiations, was partly fueled by Dempsey's departure, who played her on-screen husband, Dr. Derek Shepherd.
"When Patrick left, I had something to prove," she relayed. "He left season 11, and then I was renegotiating season 12, so I could have left, because the man left, which is not the story I want to tell."
Because she wanted to prove that Meredith was still an interesting character without Derek, Pompeo said, "I had to take over that script and rewrite that story and prove to myself that they were wrong."
"Grey's Anatomy" returns this fall on ABC.