The best part about going back and watching old TV is catching sight of some random guest star and realizing you recognize them from their own TV show.
Breaking into the biz is hard, and most struggling actors will jump at the chance to be a day-player on hit like “Grey’s Anatomy.” Thanks to the hospital drama’s procedural nature, Seattle Grace Hospital (or Seattle Grace Mercy West or Grey-Sloan Memorial?) is a veritable revolving door of new patients and new guest actors.
Most of these actors pop on and off screen with barely a notice from the audience, but we’d guess if you staged a re-watch of the show’s 12 seasons, you’d catch a few familiar faces that would make you sit up and shout, “OMG, it’s *insert mega-popular actor’s name here.*”
To save you 269 hours of viewing, Zap2it has gone ahead and laid out all the best ones below.
Before she started her evil machinations on “Unreal,” Constance Zimmer stopped by Seattle Grace Mercy West to help the hospital avoid bankruptcy in Season 9. Don’t worry though, she brought all of Quinn’s sass to her “Grey’s Anatomy” character, Alana Cahill.
Maeve might be having a magical time on “The Magicians,” but on “Grey’s Anatomy,” she had just about the worst day ever. When her family’s car crashed into Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) broken down ambulance, she lost both her parents and had to break the news to her siblings — on her 18th birthday.
Foley was part of the Shondaland family long before “Scandal,” playing Teddy’s (Kim Raver) sickly husband, Henry. He died on the table just in time to be cast on Shonda’s new show, and we’re actually pretty happy about it. Can you imagine anyone else playing Jake? We didn’t think so.
Everyone’s favorite “Parenthood” rebel made a quick appearance on “Grey’s Anatomy” as a patient with a serious spinal issue that caused her to constantly bend at an odd angle. Naturally, she quickly became a favorite of Izzy’s (Katherine Heigl) bleeding heart.
Charles Michael Davis
“The Originals” Charles Michael Davis looks pretty amazing in scrubs, even if he did work on the constantly mocked “gynie squad.” It’s almost enough to make us wish for an alternate reality episode where all our favorite vampires and werewolves spend a day playing doctors.
This is one that will certainly shock you if you thought “Teen Wolf” was the first time you ever saw Holland Roden. Back in 2011, she played the young mother of conjoined twins, and she spent most of her time on “Grey’s Anatomy” waiting anxiously in the waiting room.
Before she stole Barry’s heart on “The Flash,” as Iris West, Candice Patton stole all our hearts as a “Grey’s Anatomy” patient struggling to recover from a tricky knee surgery.
Everyone remembers the “Grey’s Anatomy” bomb guy. He was stern and heroic and actually kind of likable at the end of the day, which made him the perfect candidate to play Coach Taylor on “Friday Night Lights.”
Blink and you’ll miss this one. Lowes got a super-short scene as an oblivious pregnant girl in “Grey’s Anatomy’s” seventh season, but it must have been enough to impress Shonda Rhymes because she was later cast as a main character on “Scandal.”
Paging Paris Gellar! Whether you know her from “Gilmore Girls” or “How To Get Away With Murder,” you’ve got to be a little surprised to see her as a cancer patient on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Fun fact: she also made an appearance on another of Shonda’s shows, “Scandal.”
We’ve been so dazzled by her performance on “Underground” that we’d almost forgotten how much we loved Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s brain tumor patient on “Grey’s Anatomy.” She and her brain-tumor boyfriend managed to sneak in some hospital sex of their own thanks to Meredith and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) before both going under the knife.
He may play an angel of the lord on “Lucifer,” but D.B Woodside was no saint on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Playing an old high-school crush of Bailey’s (Chandra Wilson), his character ran poor Miranda ragged, making her do all his paperwork for him just like in their younger years.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
If you can remember way back to the early years of “Grey’s Anatomy” you’ll probably still get a tear in your eye thinking about Denny. Jeffrey Dean Morgan went on to star in other huge shows like “The Good Wife” and “The Walking Dead” but he’ll always be the lovable Denny Duquette to us.