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Grey’s Anatomy is famous for putting its characters through unrelenting drama and even killing them off at an alarming rate.

Having so many characters suffering through so much trauma seems to be working for them, though. Fans are eagerly awaiting the return of Season 17 in a few months, and the show is the longest-running medical drama in TV history. But for some longtime viewers, this cast of characters is just too full. As far as they’re concerned, the show’s producers should tighten up their focus. 

‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Long-running for a reason

KIM RAVER | Kelsey McNeal via Getty Images

There’s been a great deal of speculation about whether Season 17 will be the end for Grey’s Anatomy. While the answer to that still isn’t clear, even if this is the last season, it’s had an impressive run. According to Vulture, the popular medical drama hit the airwaves in March 2005, almost 16 years ago. 

Part of the program’s endurance comes from the fact that the show has been able to attract new viewers years after it debuted. Netflix and other streaming services have made it possible for people to discover the show and binge-watch it from the beginning. Some of its devoted fans were only toddlers when the show began.

Of course, to capture the attention of multiple generations, a show must have a compelling storylineGrey’s Anatomy is famous for being compulsively watchable, even if it’s heartbreaking at times. One way they keep the drama high? Lots and lots of characters.

Large drama — large cast


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There are logical reasons to have so many characters on Grey’s Anatomy. After all, the hospital is the site of a surgical residency program, so doctors come there for training before moving on to other hospitals.

On top of that, there is also the constantly-changing array of patients coming through for treatment. This works well for the show, because all these people represent an endless supply of plots.

Despite all the characters that fill out the storyline, the show’s producers have no problem finding actors to step in. Elle reports that whether they are up-and-coming or established stars, there’s no shortage of actors who are happy to take a guest role on Grey’s Anatomy. Just a few of the big names that have shown up at Grace Sloan Memorial Hospital include Demi Lovato, Millie Bobby Brown, Sarah Chalke, Bernadette Peters, and Geena Davis. 

But not all the show’s fans love this large, revolving cast of characters. As far as they’re concerned, the producers should concentrate on the main characters more.

Too much and not enough

In a conversation on Reddit, fans got into a conversation about which minor characters should be developed more. For many commenters the answer was none. They would like to see the show give the main characters more attention.

“I wish they would pare down main& recurring cast and do a better job crafting long term arcs with compelling stories for main characters.” one person said.

“I see alot of posts talking about recurring characters they should develop but the thing is recurring characters don’t have to necessarily be developed or get a storyline,” another agreed. “It’s the main cast who need storylines and arcs.”

For some, they felt that the show used to do a better job at this.

“The key focus on main characters is what contributed to the tight storytelling of the early seasons. They had a few recurring & minor characters but they were used for specific story and then ended. That was a much better formula than what we have now of a large group of minor/ recurring characters with no purpose or focus.”

“I wish they’d do better with the cast they have tbh,” another suggested. “They’re so many unexplored stories to be told and they keep rehashing the same old relationship plots. Maybe they need to trim the cast idk.”

Grey’s Anatomy has already surprised its viewers this season, so maybe these fans will get what they’re hoping for. As old stars drop in for guest appearances, maybe the writers will go back to their earlier, more focused plot lines. What we do know is that even after 16 years, fans will definitely tune in to see what happens next