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James Pickens Jr. Calls Grey's Anatomy's Longevity 'Lightning In A Bottle'

The medical drama that turned into a TV juggernaut. That's "Grey's Anatomy," the show that started with five surgical interns putting their knowledge to the test while trying to navigate their personal lives. The hit series created by Shonda Rhimes landed on ABC in 2005. They introduced now well-known characters like Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo, who had no interest in the show when she booked the pilot), Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), and Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh). The show watched each character grow, both professionally and personally. And as fans tune in to watch the original cast members take on new challenges, they also meet new staff members at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Newcomers like Dr. Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) and Dr. April Kepner (Sarah Drew) became mainstays, but each said their tearful goodbyes.

One of the more emotional goodbyes may be that of Dr. Grey. Pompeo clocked out as a series regular during Season 19, Episode 7, "I'll Follow the Sun." And while much of the cast has changed over the years, Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.) continues to stick around. And Pickens, Jr. is still in awe of the show's longevity, sharing his thoughts upon the show's premiere.

The crew member who predicted the success of Grey's Anatomy

Before becoming a chief medical officer on "Grey's Anatomy," James Pickens, Jr. had a list of acting credits that included playing the role of Henry Thomas for 10 episodes of "Beverly Hills, 90210" and playing the role of Detective Mike McKrew during 15 episodes of "The Practice." But none of his roles have lasted as long as that of Dr. Richard Webber, the mentor and boss who is just trying to keep everyone on the same page. Pickens, Jr. told The Lede, "And at that point in my career, when the show began, I was, you know, quote-unquote, a mature actor. So I already knew that these kinds of roles are few and far between. So to be able to grab hold of lightning in a bottle like that is more than I ever could have dreamed of ..." Pickens, Jr. noted that executive producer Jim Parriott believed that the show would change TV dramas. Still, that success was something that Pickens, Jr. nor Shonda Rhimes ever imagined.

Even though she is no longer a series regular, Ellen Pompeo has predicted more success for the show. She told Entertainment Tonight, "It's a really good piece of content, and we're going to try to keep it going for the young people, not necessarily with me, but keep it going beyond me," she said.