Ellen Pompeo Appeared in 2 Other Iconic TV Shows Before ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Today, Ellen Pompeo is best known for playing Meredith Grey in the hit ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy. She has been starring in the show for the past 15 years, and her character is now the Head of General Surgery at the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Yet, years before Grey’s Anatomy wound up on Pompeo’s desk, the actor appeared in a handful of TV shows and movies, often in small, one-off appearances. On her way to the top, Pompeo happened to pop up in two of the most beloved TV shows of all time. 

Ellen Pompeo of Grey's Anatomy
Ellen Pompeo | Jason Merritt/TERM / Staff

Ellen Pompeo appeared in ‘Law & Order’ in 1996, and again in 2000

There aren’t many stars today who haven’t shown up in Law & Order; the show has quite the reputation for snagging budding talent, as well as featuring A-list guest stars. In 1996, Ellen Pompeo appeared in the episode titled “Savior.” 

The episode focused on a hard-luck executive who is accused of murdering his wife and son, as well as injuring his eldest daughter. Dr. Olivet tells prosecutors that his profile matches what constitutes a “family annihilator;” yet she backs down when he refused to confess on the stand. Ellen Pompeo portrayed the eldest daughter, Jenna, in the episode. 

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In 2000, Pompeo appeared in the episode “Fools Fall for Love.” The episode followed a man accused of raping and murdering his girlfriend’s sister, as well as another victim. Prosecutors make a deal with the girlfriend for her testimony, yet they soon come to suspect that she may have been a willing participant in the murders. Pompeo plays the girlfriend, Laura Kendrick, who comes to display “sociopathic tendencies,” according to IMDb

Pompeo also appeared in ‘Friends’ back in 2004, right before ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ 

Grey’s Anatomy premiered in 2005, and Ellen Pompeo starred in a Friends episode in 2004. At the time, little did Pompeo know she was about to become a household name, as well recognized as those she was appearing alongside in the Friends episode, “The One Where the Stripper Cries.” 

The episode followed three different storylines — one focused on Chandler and Ross attending a college reunion. One followed Rachel and Monica as they prepared a bachelorette party for Phoebe. And the last centered on Joey competing on a celebrity game show.  

Ellen Pompeo appeared in the college reunion narrative as Missy Goldberg — a woman who went to college with both Ross and Chandler. Chandler and Ross — many years ago — promised each other that Missy was off-limits for dating (after they both realized they had the hots for her). Yet, Chandler gives Ross the greenlight, considering he was already with Monica. And, Ross heads on over to engage in a little chat with Pompeo’s character. As was often the case, the Friends episode took a few unexpected and humorous turns from this point forward.