‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Ellen Pompeo Joked ‘She Makes More Money Than God’ Playing Meredith Grey

Grey’s Anatomy remains one of the most popular TV shows years after it first began. And for many fans, star Ellen Pompeo’s salary and its evolution over the course of the series is a subject of interest. So just how much does Pompeo make per episode in 2021?

Ellen Pompeo stars in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Ellen Pompeo in a maroon dress looking at the camera
‘Greys Anatomy’ stars Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey. | Mike Rosenthal via Getty Images

Grey’s Anatomy premiered in 2005. Pompeo stars as Meredith Grey, who begins the series as a surgical intern. Meredith befriends her fellow interns while fighting her attraction to a fellow doctor, Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). The medical drama quickly became a hit for ABC, drawing in impressive viewership.

More than 15 years later, and Grey’s Anatomy continues. Meredith is now an award-winning attending and chief of general surgery. And she’s been through a lot, including losing her husband (the aforementioned Derek). Though many cast members have come and gone, Pompeo remains a Grey’s Anatomy regular.

She auditioned to make some money

Like many actors, Pompeo envisioned acting more on the big screen than the small screen. She appeared in popular films such as Catch Me If You CanOld School, and Daredevil in the early ’00s. Her TV gigs were limited to one-off episodes in shows like Strangers With Candy and Friends.

But, in need of a paycheck, Pompeo found herself considering a more long-term possibility. When she got the Grey’s Anatomy script, she told her agent, “I’m not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years. Are you out of your f*ckin’ mind?” (via The Hollywood Reporter). Still, Pompeo didn’t expect the series to get picked up, let alone become the longest-running medical drama of all time.

Pompeo negotiated her ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ salary 

As a relatively unknown actor in Grey’s Anatomy‘s early seasons, Pompeo’s salary was $200,000 per episode. This number increased gradually over time. But when Dempsey left in season 11, she used the opportunity to negotiate a much higher salary, becoming one of the highest-paid women on TV.

“As a woman, what I know is you can’t approach anything from a point of view of ‘I don’t deserve’ or ‘I’m not going to ask for because I don’t want other people to get upset,'” said creator Shonda Rhimes, who encouraged Pompeo to demand more. “And I know for a fact that when men go into these negotiations, they go in hard and ask for the world.”

How much does Ellen Pompeo make per episode?

Ellen Pompeo in her scrubs in Grey's Anatomy
Ellen Pompeo in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Gilles Mingasson/ABC via Getty Images

RELATED: Ellen Pompeo Net Worth: How She Became One of the Highest-Paid Actors on Television

Pompeo’s salary remains a popular topic of conversation in Hollywood. And the actor herself has no problem commenting on it. After a Twitter user wrote that “she makes more money than god,” for Grey’s Anatomy, Pompeo retweeted the post and added simply, “Word.”

Under her revised negotiation, Pompeo’s salary increased significantly. She makes upwards of $20 million every year. The number comes from a combination of her per episode salary ($575,000), along with her producing credits for Grey’s Anatomy and its spinoff series, Station 19.