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Why Grey's Anatomy Star Ellen Pompeo Thinks The Show Has Such Staying Power

"Grey's Anatomy" is one of the longest-running scripted series in television history, with 401 episodes in the can and a 19th season coming in October. The ultra-talented cast and production staff have already racked up 5 Emmy wins and 39 nominations, and Season 18 enjoyed excellent ratings from IMDb reviewers, on par with previous seasons. It's rare for a show to last for nearly two decades — and even less common for one to enjoy such a consistently positive response — and the cast certainly deserves much of that credit.

Only three characters, all doctors, have appeared in every episode: Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.), and Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo). They've been supported by series regulars like Drs. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) and Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), but Pompeo doesn't necessarily think the strong cast is what helped "Grey's Anatomy" endure long past the point where most shows are relegated to syndication.

Pompeo credits the timing of the show's streaming debut

In an interview with Bazaar, "Grey's Anatomy" star Ellen Pompeo said she thought the show had lasted so long largely because it got an early foothold in the streaming arena. She told reporter Amy Mackelden, "I don't want to speak out of turn, because now every studio is streaming, but I know for a while there, 'Grey's' was the only show that was on a streamer, and actually still new episodes were being created."

This allowed new viewers to go back to the beginning and experience the arc of the series as the writers intended and quickly enough to catch up to live broadcasts. This helped "Grey's Anatomy" catch and keep new fans while allowing existing viewers the new privilege of rewatching favorite episodes or even enjoying the whole series all over again.

That constant availability of content is taken for granted now that entire seasons are released in an instant — and everything seems to be part of one streaming library or another. However, "Grey's Anatomy" was one of the shows to pave the way for the binge-filled nights and weekends that have now become so familiar.