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20 Famous Cameos You Completely Forgot About in Grey’s Anatomy

20 Famous Cameos You Completely Forgot About in Grey's Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy first premiered back in 2005, and nearly 20 years later, the popular medical drama is still going strong. With new patients coming into the hospital each and every day, that means extra people are on set, joining the main cast, for nearly every episode. One can imagine just how hectic casting guest stars and extras can be, but there are a number of big names who have actually come through the sterilized halls.



Given that Grey’s Anatomy has been at the top of many charts for over a decade, who would not want to be a part of such a great series? Actors like Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Geena Davis, and Scott Foley joined the Grey’s cast, stayed awhile, made a lasting impact on the fans, and then left without much of a goodbye.

Then there are those who lingered in the background a bit more, did not stick around as long, and likely got lost in the hundreds of episodes worth of extras. Some of these famous guest stars wore the iconic blue scrubs, shimmied into a hospital gown, or simply got to appear as a family member of a sick or dying patient. Here are 20 famous cameos you completely forgot about in Grey’s Anatomy. Stream grey’s Anatomy on Hulu.

20 Christina Ricci

Season 2, Episodes 16 & 17 – “It’s the End of the World” & “As We Know It”

Christina Ricci is known for playing eccentric and fairly twisted characters, but when she joined the cast of Grey’s Anatomy for two of the most dramatic episodes in the entire series, she actually portrayed a terrified 22-year-old paramedic named Hannah Davies. Hannah arrives in an ambulance with her hand inside a man’s chest cavity, only to find out that she is touching live ammunition. She then gets left alone in an operating room with the unconscious man as Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) and the bomb squad figure out what to do. Understandably, Hannah begins to panic, and when she flees the room, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) steps in to stop the bleed, essentially putting herself in the worst possible position.

Ricci was the perfect actress for this role, as she always knows how to make an audience feel something for her characters. In fact, Ricci received an Emmy Award nomination for her short time as Hannah Davies. Within Grey’s Anatomy, it is easy to see the panic in her eyes, and the nervous smile only adds to that helpless feeling everyone has for Hannah.

19 Mandy Moore

Season 6, Episodes 23 & 24 and Season 7, Episode 6 – “Sanctuary,” “Death And All His Friends,” & “These Arms of Mine”

Mandy Moore plays bubbly and vivacious characters in nearly every role she lands — just check out the number of rom-coms the former pop singer has been in — but when she found herself on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, that carefree and fun attitude was short-lived. In the two-part season six finale, Moore portrayed Miranda Bailey’s patient, Mary, who finds herself in the right place at the absolute worst time. Instead of undergoing surgery with Bailey (Chandra Wilson), the two end up hiding from an active shooter in the hospital. While they both come away physically unscathed, watching another doctor die while they helplessly watched traumatized them forever.

It seems a bit easier to play the girl-next-door type who is carefree and fun, but when handed a script that puts you in a very realistic and terrifying scenario, one can say things get a bit challenging. Moore handled her role in Grey’s Anatomy like a champion, and when her character unexpectedly died in season seven from a complication, fans were heartbroken. However, just a few years later, Moore landed the role of Rebecca Pearson in the drama series This Is Us, and she was further challenged as her character constantly faced criticism and horrible situations.

18 Rachel Brosnahan

Season 9, Episode 14 – “The Face of Change”

Within just four years of being a part of the cutthroat entertainment business, Rachel Brosnahan found herself on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, portraying a transgender man named Brian who was undergoing surgery. A wave of emotion naturally erupts from the situation, as Brian’s father wants no part in seeing his child “mutilate” their body. However, lucky for Brian, his girlfriend, who is also transgender, is there to support him every step of the way.

After landing plenty of guest roles in several popular television series, Brosnahan appeared in Netflix’s political drama House of Cards, where her character was so well-received that she ended up staying longer than planned. Afterward, Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls who loves a good and strong female lead, cast Brosnahan as the lead in her period drama The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Brosnahan has since lived in the spotlight as a brilliant, witty, and hilarious actress, and she is currently working on the latest Superman film where she will play the iconic Lois Lane.

17 Demi Lovato

Season 6, Episode 22 – “Shiny Happy People”

While Demi Lovato was dabbling with getting away from Disney Channel, she found herself cast in the sixth season of Grey’s Anatomy as a teenager named Hayley May who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. In the episode “Shiny Happy People,” Hayley is brought to the hospital by her parents after trying to claw her eyes out.

When Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) is called to sign off on her chart so that she can be committed, he believes there is something else going on inside of Hayley’s body. After a few hours of research, Karev correctly diagnoses her, reveals that she is in fact not schizophrenic, and Hayley is able to get the surgery she needs to live a normal life.

This cameo is not exactly one many people remember because of Lovato’s anticlimactic performance. Sure, the idea of going into the hospital and being labeled “crazy” is insane, but how Lovato portrayed the character was very underwhelming. After her short appearance in the medical drama, Lovato went back to Disney and finished out Sonny with a Chance and Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam.

Related: 15 Filler Episodes of Grey’s Anatomy You Can Skip

16 Sarah Paulson

Season 6, Episode 15 – “The Time Warp”

Though Ellis Grey (Kate Burton) died towards the end of Season 3, her memory has managed to live on all the way into the current season as Richard (James Pickens Jr.) occasionally brings her up, and Meredith cannot shake the legacy her brilliant mother left behind. In “The Time Warp,” viewers are transported back to Richard’s intern days as he tells about how he and Ellis were looked down on by their colleagues. Sarah Paulson plays the young Ellis Grey, who is not afraid to speak her mind and puts all the male doctors right back in their place when they refuse to see her as an equal.

While Paulson did an outstanding job at playing the no-nonsense doctor who took the profession by the horns, her cameo has definitely been overshadowed by the craziness that went on in Ellis’ younger years. Happily, Paulson’s more recent roles have thrown her further into the spotlight. In 2012, Paulson was cast in the second season of the horror anthology series American Horror Story, and in 2017, she gave an incredible performance as Marcia Clark in The People v. O. J. Simpson. Both series have won her numerous awards.

15 Millie Bobby Brown

Season 11, Episode 15 – “I Feel the Earth Move”

Millie Bobby Brown has certainly become a sought-after actress in Hollywood, but before she landed her breakthrough role in Netflix’s Stranger Things, she played a terrified little girl named Ruby in Grey’s Anatomy. In the middle of season 11, Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) finds himself on the phone with a scared child named Ruby, who called for help when her mom’s breathing became dangerously shallow.

For most of the episode, we only hear the young girl do her best to save her mother’s life. However, towards the end, Ruby and her mother arrive at the hospital, and she properly thanks Hunt for helping her save her mother’s life.

Because Brown was off-screen most of the time, and she hadn’t exactly reached fame yet, it is okay if you completely forgot that she was on Grey’s Anatomy. Now that you know (or remember), feel free to go back and see just how much talent the actress had at such a young age. Then, while you are on Netflix, hop over to Stranger Things or her latest film, Damsel, to see how much her acting skills have improved.

14 Josh Radnor

Season 15, Episode 4 – “Momma Knows Best”

After nine years of playing the hopeless romantic, Ted Mosby, in How I Met Your Mother, Josh Radnor just does not seem to be able to shake the idea that true love is out there. In season 15 of Grey’s Anatomy, Rador plays a potential love interest for Meredith Grey. The two meet at a restaurant, and after a bit of chatting, they realize they were actually set up with other people.

Because things are going so well between them, they decide to cancel on their other dates and just enjoy one another’s company. Unfortunately, when John (Radnor) says he thinks kids hold women back, Meredith lets it be known that they do not have a future together.

Because Radnor’s time on Grey’s Anatomy was so short — or the fact that he looked and acted nothing like his infamous Ted Mosby — many fans don’t remember him being a part of the series. However, that is perfectly okay for the actor. He clearly found success with How I Met Your Mother, and he recently held the main role in the conspiracy drama series Hunters for its full run.

13 Elisabeth Moss

Season 3, Episode 19 – “My Favorite Mistake”

There are so many actors that join the Grey’s Anatomy cast as the family members of patients, so you should not feel too bad that you cannot remember all of them. However, given that Elisabeth Moss — who made a name for herself in The West Wing and Mad Men, and who now holds a lead role in The Handmaid’s Tale — was one of those crazed family members ordering doctors and nurses around, a look back at her time on the set is an absolute must.

Towards the end of season three, Moss played Nina Rogerson, the daughter of a woman with a rare disease that turned her muscles into bone. Nina, knowing that her mother’s quality of life was rapidly deteriorating, put herself in charge of making sure every single thing around her fragile mom was perfect.

This caused Nina to spiral a bit and give up a lot of her life, so when her mother found out that she may not live through her surgery, she made sure to leave Nina with words of encouragement to live her life to the fullest and to not be afraid of messing up sometimes.

Related: Grey’s Anatomy: 10 Underrated Moms Who Deserve Recognition

12 Edward Herrmann

Season 4, Episodes 3-5 – “Let the Truth Sting,” “The Heart of the Matter,” & “Haunt You Every Day”

Edward Herrmann was often the biggest guy in the room with his tall stature, his booming voice, and his kind yet stern nature. However, when he was cast in the fourth season of Grey’s Anatomy as an older-than-normal intern named Norman Shales, he was challenged by playing a character who was hesitant and unsure of himself. For three episodes, Norman follows Alex Karev around (except when he gets pawned off to Meredith), and very quickly, the older intern realizes he is not cut out for the field of surgery.

Herrmann’s addition to the cast was humorous, but it felt out of place. He did not join a group of interns, and he did nothing for the main characters’ arcs. Gilmore Girls fans were likely excited to see Herrmann in the medical drama because of how great he had been for the past seven years as Richard Gilmore, but many others likely forgot he was even a part of Grey’s.

11 Dylan Minnette

Season 4, Episode 5 – “Haunt You Every Day”

Edward Herrmann was not the only guest star on the Grey’s Anatomy set during one of the spooky Halloween episodes. A young Dylan Minnette, who most people will immediately recognize as Clay from Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, was also roaming around the halls during “Haunt You Every Day.”

Minnette played a young boy named Ryan who was born with the ability to hear, but no ears. Ryan initially gets Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) to agree to a pro bono surgery if he can also get other doctors and nurses to volunteer their time as well. With Meredith’s help, Ryan is successfully able to get enough people on board to help Sloan reconstruct his ears.

It is a rather sweet treat for the candy-filled episode, and Minnette has been a part of plenty of other big television series, such as Two and A Half Men, Supernatural, and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. He even showed a darker side to his acting skills in the horror film Don’t Breathe.

10 Wilmer Valderrama

Season 12, Episodes 17 & 20-23 – “I Wear the Face,” “Trigger Happy,” “You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side,” “Mama Tried,” & “At Last”

While Wilmer Valderrama is impossible to forget in his role as Fez in That ’70s Show, he was not so memorable in Grey’s Anatomy. Valderrama played a patient named Kyle Diaz in the 12th season of Grey’s, and he actually became Stephanie’s love interest for a few episodes. Unfortunately, since it seems like there are hundreds of love interests flung throughout the series, Valderrama’s time as the lovable musician was significantly overshadowed.

Lucky for him though, many fans still know and love him as Eric Forman’s goofy friend (with a very specific and unique accent) who never really minds his own business. In 2016, the same year Valderrama was a part of the Grey’s cast, he actually managed to establish himself as a much more serious actor in the hit series NCIS. He seems to be doing just fine in more noteworthy roles where his characters have more time to shine.

9 Kay Panabaker

Season 5, Episode 10 – “All By Myself”

Kay Panabaker has always been good at playing the over-the-top and slightly dramatic girl, but when her Grey’s Anatomy character, Emma Anderson, finds herself in the hospital with her older sister after they managed to crash their father’s car, “dramatic” does not even begin to describe her.

Emma and her sister are at each other’s throats with threats, and they continuously taunt one another about being in big trouble the moment their parents arrive. When Emma’s sister is wheeled away for surgery, Emma yells out, “I hope you die.” The empty wish does not exactly come true, but her older sister slips into a coma, and her doctor says she is essentially dead.

While Panabaker’s acting skills are phenomenal in every scene, she just does not stick out enough to be truly memorable — then again, it is not her fault there are thousands of patients that fans have seen on the screen over the years. After her time on Grey’s, Panabaker went on to appear in a few more television series, and in 2010, she landed a main role in ABC’s No Ordinary Family. However, once she was done with the actress life, Panabaker headed to college and became a zoologist for Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Related: Grey’s Anatomy: The 15 Most Surprising Plot Twists Throughout the Series

8 Laurie Metcalf

Season 2, Episode 22 – “The Name of the Game”

Laurie Metcalf is known for playing fun, eccentric, and sometimes slightly crazy characters, but when she was cast in Grey’s Anatomy, she had to put all of that energy behind her to portray a dying woman named Beatrice Carver. In “The Name of the Game,” Beatrice comes to the hospital and learns that she does not have very long to live due to her cancer.

However, being the strong mother that she is, she tries to hide the fatal diagnosis from her teenage daughter. Unfortunately, the hard conversation has to eventually be had, and Beatrice makes sure that her daughter knows just how much she loves her.

Within a matter of minutes, Metcalf is able to make audiences choke up and think about their own parents or children being in a similar situation. Given the number of awards she has won on stage for her various performances, it should come as no surprise to see just how much Metcalf can put into a character with such little screen time. If you simply do not remember Metcalf in Grey’s, then perhaps you will know her better as Sheldon Cooper’s mother in The Big Bang Theory or as Roseanne’s wacky sister Jackie in Roseanne.

7 Leslie Odom Jr.

Season 5, Episode 5 – “There’s No ‘I’ in Team”

Leslie Odom Jr. joined the cast of Grey’s Anatomy along with 11 other individuals as they all played characters either donating or receiving a kidney. Odom specifically portrayed a young man named P.J. Walling, who only agreed to be a part of Bailey’s domino surgery because his estranged father promised him $10,000.

Unfortunately, his father ended up with some complications after the surgery, and P.J. had to face reality and make a huge choice: continue to be angry with his father for years of neglect, or make amends before it was too late.

Seeing Odom break down in tears after playing the indifferent son for most of the episode felt all too real. After 10 years of stage performances and a few guest appearances on television shows, he clearly has his acting skills down pat. Most viewers will now immediately recognize Odom from his roles in Disney’s Hamilton and the drama film One Night in Miami…, but it seems like the actor really prefers to spend his time in the theater rather than on movie sets.

6 Abigail Breslin

Season 3, Episode 3 – “Sometimes a Fantasy”

Before Abigail Breslin was killing zombies alongside Emma Stone (Zombieland) or trying to gain rights to her own body while keeping her sister’s biggest secret hidden from everyone (My Sister’s Keeper), she was playing a tough little girl named Megan Clover in Grey’s Anatomy.

In “Sometimes a Fantasy,” Alex Karev gets assigned to Megan’s case, and red flags immediately go off when he realizes she has been admitted to a hospital four times in the last three months. After some initial questioning and hesitation, Megan lets Karev know that she has superpowers. He questions it, but she proves to him that she actually feels no pain.

Going from a child actress to a successful adult within the industry is never easy, but by looking at the number of roles and awards Breslin has racked up, she makes the whole transition look like a walk in the park. Some of Breslin’s more notable works include Little Miss Sunshine, August: Osage County, Maggie, and the horror comedy series Scream Queens.

5 Tessa Thompson

Season 2, Episodes 26 & 27 – “Deterioration of the Fight or Flight Response” & “Losing My Religion”

There is absolutely no doubt that Tessa Thompson is an incredible actress, but her brief cameo on Grey’s Anatomy was completely overshadowed by the fact that Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) was hanging on for dear life the entire time her character was also in the hospital.

In the last two episodes of season two, Thompson portrays Adele (Loretta Devine) and Richard’s niece, Camille Travis, who is brought in as a patient on the same night as her prom. Adele explains that Camille lost consciousness while having sex at the dance, and with her history of cancer, she wanted to take no chances of the situation being something more. Unfortunately for Camille, her cancer had returned.

Thompson’s performance should be more memorable than it is, but understandably, Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) cutting Denny’s LVAD wire and then him dying in the season two finale takes the lead. Happily, Thompson’s time on Grey’s was just a drop in the bucket for her career. She has since gone on to bigger and better roles where audiences absolutely cannot forget her; a few of which include her roles in the Creed Trilogy and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Related: Grey’s Anatomy: 20 Episodes That Will Make You Cry

4 Seth Green

Season 4, Episodes 9 & 10 – “Crash Into Me: Part 1” (and Part 2)

Seth Green is a mastermind when it comes to playing dramatic individuals, but when he was cast in Grey’s Anatomy, he had to downplay his energy to come off as an authentically scared patient named Nick.

Unfortunately, with everything going on within the two episodes Green had joined — Bailey having to deal with a racist paramedic and an overturned ambulance taking up everyone’s attention — not too many fans specifically remember Green being the patient as much as they remember the gallons of blood that were spewed from his body.

In short, Nick was admitted to the hospital with an exposed carotid artery, and despite everyone’s level of care, it eventually blew. He sadly did not live through the surgery. Green would have been a great addition to the Grey’s main cast, as plenty of fans have loved him in Rat Race, the Guardians of the Galaxy series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and many others. Unfortunately, he has a lot going on with overseeing his own show, Robot Chicken, and voicing a number of characters, so we will just have to appreciate him for his brief cameo.

3 Keke Palmer

Season 10, Episode 16 – “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”

Keke Palmer gave one of the most realistic performances as a young and scared mother in labor in Grey’s Anatomy, and yet, many fans cannot recall her brief cameo. In the middle of season 10, Palmer joined Grey’s as a pregnant teenager named Sheryll Jeffries, who was desperately seeking out Dr. Yang (Sandra Oh) in hopes of getting put on her clinical trial.

Unfortunately, while Sheryll was being told she was too old to even qualify, her water broke. During labor, Dr. Shane Ross (Gaius Charles) helps Sheryll focus on making it through the toughest situation of her life, and after her baby is born, he advises that she call her mother to help her.

While watching the episode, it feels as if Palmer is never acting. She knows how to adapt and flawlessly become any character she is handed. Plenty of millennials will instantly recognize her from Disney’s Jump In or Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP. However, her more serious works include Hustlers, Nope, and Scream Queens.

2 Liza Weil

Season 5, Episode 23 – “Here’s to Future Days”

After seven seasons of being the cutthroat Paris Geller in Gilmore Girls, Liza Weil went on to play a polar opposite character in Grey’s Anatomy. In the second to last episode of Grey’s fifth season, when Izzie is openly battling cancer, she makes friends with another cancer patient named Alison Clark (Weil) who is regularly receiving medicine at the hospital. Alison makes Izzie laugh and smile, and she reminds her that she will get back to cutting people open and saving lives in no time.

While audiences were thrilled to see Weil in such a kind and considerate role, her time did not last long, as Alison passed away due to a complication. However, the very talented actress has since gone on to other shows that kept her around much longer, such as the political thriller Scandal and the twisted legal drama How to Get Away With Murder.

1 Cheech Marin

Season 4, Episode 12 – “Where the Wild Things Are”

Cheech Marin — as in, one-half of the famous Cheech & Chong duo — is probably one of the most famous celebrities to join the Grey’s Anatomy cast, and yet, most fans have trouble remembering just what he did in the medical drama. In the fourth season, when Bailey’s original interns are at one another’s throats during a contest to win the iconic “sparkle pager,” Marin appears as Otis Sharon, a man who was found unconscious on the street with a swollen ankle.

Izzie takes it upon herself to perform practically every test possible on him to secure points for the contest. When she finally deduces that he is not some medical miracle, Otis rightfully explodes on her.

Seeing Marin in a role where he ends up in an unfortunate situation is not uncommon at all. In fact, he’s been putting himself in questionable scenarios since his early Cheech & Chong days. Of course, the comedian always has a good sense of humor, regardless of what his characters are forced to do, and because of that, fans absolutely love and adore him.

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