4 Crazy Rules the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Cast Must Follow While Filming On Set

To be a part of the Grey’s Anatomy cast, the actors must follow strict yet unorthodox rules. Every cast member must follow the guidelines installed by Shonda Rhimes, the creator of the medical drama – well, except for the show’s star, Ellen Pompeo. Here’s a list of four crazy rules the cast must follow when the cameras are rolling.

The 'Grey's Anatomy' cast dressed in blue and white scrubs.
L-R: James Pickens Jr., Chandra Wilson, Justin Chambers, Katherine Heigl, T.R. Knight, Sandra Oh, Isaiah Washington, Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey | Frank Ockenfels/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

1. The ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ cast members must be able to handle the smell of beef on set

Viewers will see the surgical staff engaging in a complicated medical procedure throughout the show. It may look like the actors are operating on real people, but the organs are not human. To clarify, the actors on set work with bovine organs, which come from cattle. According to OSSA, some cast members, like Sarah Drew, have referred to the smell as “repulsive” and that it’ll make the actors gag constantly.

So, it seems the Grey’s Anatomy cast must have a strong stomach to be on the medical drama. Aside from the organs, the blood used onset is relatively natural. Drew said the fake blood also contains silicone, blood matter, red jello, and chicken fat. Sounds pretty gross, right?

2. The ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ cast must be willing to travel

While the series primarily takes place in Seattle, the Grey’s Anatomy cast must travel to multiple locations to film the show. The majority of the show takes place at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. But, the hospital is not located in Seattle. Devoted fans might not know that the show films in Los Angeles, California.

So, why did the creators choose to film in LA? Well, part of that is thanks to Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes. When Rhimes first pitched the show, she wanted it to take place in Chicago. Since another popular medical show took place there (ER), it makes sense why she wanted to change the location. So, Rhimes changed the initial location to Seattle, and the rest is history.

3. Be polite onset or get sent home … for good

If you’re not nice on set, then you’ll feel the wrath of Shonda Rhimes. In 2007, actor Isaiah Washington, who played Dr. Preston Burke, was fired from the show after using a homophobic slur against his co-star, T.R. Knight. But, Katherine Heigl originally implemented the rule on set. In 2008, Heigl withdrew her name from the Emmys nominations because she didn’t think her performance deserved an award.

“I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination,” she told Entertainment Weekly at the time. “In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actor who was given such materials.”

Although Rhimes supported her decision, Heigl received the label “difficult” by the tabloids. For years, that label followed Heigl and harmed her career. She later apologized to Rhimes for her behavior. But, the “be nice” rule is still enforced on the set of Grey’s Anatomy – and all actors must follow it.

4. All ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ cast members must do their research


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On Grey’s Anatomy, the actors have a medical expert on standby. So, whenever they have a question or are unsure of a particular plotline, the cast and crew consult with the medical researcher to ensure they’re telling the story accurately on-screen.

The experts give information about medical procedures. In turn, the actors can effectively portray the action on camera. According to executive producer Jim Parriott, he said, “We have a terrific medical producer who stages these operations and brings in real surgeons, so the handwork you see a lot of the time is a real surgeon tying a knot.”

Grey’s Anatomy airs on ABC.