‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Why the Cast Got Into So Many Fights Behind-the-Scenes

Grey’s Anatomy arguably has the most heated behind-the-scenes drama in television history. Fortunately, the off-screen fights have cooled down over the years after several adjustments to their work schedule (along with a practically a whole new cast.)

But the star of the series, Ellen Pompeo, understands why the actors got into so many intense arguments through the years. Keep reading to find out why.

'Grey's Anatomy'
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Frank Ockenfels/Getty Images

Ellen Pompeo called the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ set a ‘really toxic work environment’

In an interview with Variety, Pompeo talked about how bad things got on the set of Grey’s Anatomy. According to the star of the series, there was a lot of “very bad behavior” going on behind the scenes.

“We had a serious, serious culture problem on Grey’s. I’d say for the first 10 years. We had serious, serious cultural issues. Very bad behavior. Really toxic work environment. After season 10, I would say we had some big shifts behind the camera and in front of the camera. It became my goal to turn that set around and have an experience there that I could be happy about and proud about. Because we had so much turmoil for 10 years.”

“There was a lot of drama on-screen and drama off-screen, and young people navigating intense stardom for the first time in their lives,” said Krista Vernoff (Via Variety.) “I think that a lot of those actors if they could go back in time and talk to their younger selves, it would be a different thing. Everybody’s grown and changed and evolved — but it was an intense time.”

Working overtime caused the actors on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ to get into so many fights

According to Pompeo, there was so much tension between the cast members on Grey’s Anatomy because they were working overtime with little to no breaks in between.

“Nobody should be working 16 hours a day, 10 months a year — nobody,” she says. “And it’s just causing people to be exhausted, pissed, sad, depressed. It’s a really, really unhealthy model. And I hope post-COVID nobody ever goes back to 24 or 22 episodes a season. It’s why people get sick. It’s why people have breakdowns, and It’s why actors fight! You want to get rid of a lot of bad behavior? Let people go home and sleep.”

RELATED: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Ellen Pompeo Addresses the ‘Very Bad Behavior’ Behind the Scenes of the Series: ‘There Was a Lot of Drama Off-Screen’

The star of the series also believes that the actors let their overnight fame get to their head. It got to the point where the actors started to get way too competitive with each other instead of supportive.

“At the time, it was just a real combination of exhaustion and stress and drama,” Pompeo says. “Actors competing with each other — and envious.”

Ellen Pompeo stayed on Shonda Rhimes’ primetime series to provide for her kids

One might wonder why the actor refused to quit the series despite the bad behavior and toxic work environment. According to Pompeo, it was to take care of her kids financially.

“At 40 years old, where am I ever going to get this kind of money?” Pompeo told Variety. “I need to take care of my kids. But after season 10, we had some big shifts in front of the camera, behind the camera. My mission became, this can’t be fantastic to the public and a disaster behind the scenes. Shonda Rhimes and I decided to rewrite the ending of this story. That’s what’s kept me.”