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How Many Episodes Of Grey's Anatomy Has Ellen Pompeo Been In, And How Many Has She Watched?

Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy.
(Image credit: ABC)

Ellen Pompeo has been at the center of Grey’s Anatomy from Day 1. She might not have been as well-known back in 2005 as her co-star Patrick Dempsey, but it was her character’s name on the title screen, and Meredith Grey has survived more than her fair share of disease and disaster to make it this far on ABC’s hit medical drama. Fans have been wearing their ferry boat scrub caps and sipping from their “On Thursdays we watch Grey’s” wine glasses for hundreds of episodes over nearly two decades. So how many of those episodes has Pompeo actually watched?

Many of the Grey’s Anatomy loyal have seen every episode at least once. We’ve chosen our favorite characters, designated someone our “person” and maybe even implored someone to, “Pick me. Choose me. Love me,” though Ellen Pompeo would never advocate begging for a man. On a recent episode of her Tell Me (opens in new tab) podcast, the Meredith Grey actress recalled to Martha Stewart exactly how many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy she’s now been on: 

I have been doing [Grey's] — this is my 18th season, and it's 392 episodes.

As of this writing, Grey’s Anatomy has aired 389 episodes since its 2005 premiere, so there’s a chance Ellen Pompeo was rounding up to the number of episodes that have been filmed, as we await the rest of Season 18 after its eventful winter premiere. Regardless of the exact number, that is really impressive. Think about it — you could start watching one episode of Grey’s every day and still not be finished with the series in a year.

When Martha Stewart asked our leading lady if she remembered all of the nearly 400 episodes, Ellen Pompeo said, “Not even close.” In fact, longtime fans who live and die by ABC’s Thursday night schedule might be shocked to find out how few episodes of her own show Pompeo has seen. She said: 

I haven't really seen most of them. I've watched only a handful. The few times I've directed, I've gone back and watched some old episodes. My intention is always to keep the spirit of the early days. That's really the hard work, is to try to keep that sort of DNA, which is hard but gives us a goal at least to strive for.

Ellen Pompeo has directed two episodes of Grey’s Anatomy — Season 13’s “Be Still, My Soul” and Season 14’s “Old Scars, Future Hearts” — and I have to wonder if she’s undershooting it a bit in regard to the number of episodes she’s watched, even if she did only use old episodes to prepare for directing. It’s not rare for actors to not watch their own work, however, and it surely wouldn’t provide the same delicious escapism that we get as viewers. 

Ellen Pompeo has seen enough of the show to throw her support behind a spinoff of Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) and April Kepner (Sarah Drew), saying she’d watch that show

Also, in past episodes of her podcast, Ellen Pompeo proved she does actually have a good memory for her past storylines, at least subconsciously. She once recalled pitching an idea for Meredith to be walking through the woods with someone, only to be reminded that she’d already done that scene with Patrick Dempsey earlier in the series. She said that made her think she’d been on the show too long

Too long or not, Ellen Pompeo is 392-ish down and plenty more to go, after Grey’s Anatomy was renewed for a nineteenth season. Grey’s Anatomy airs at 9 p.m. ET Thursdays on ABC, and be sure to check out our 2022 TV Schedule for upcoming premiere dates.

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.