The series was designed to be racially diverse, utilizing a color-blind casting technique. It revolves around the title character, Dr. Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo. The original cast consisted of nine star-billed actors: Pompeo, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, Justin Chambers, T. R. Knight, Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr., Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey. The cast has undergone major changes through the show’s run, with many members leaving and being replaced by others. In its twelfth season, the show had a large ensemble of sixteen actors, including four from the original cast (Meredith Grey, Alex Karev, Miranda Bailey, and Richard Weber).
On February 10, 2017, ABC renewed Grey’s Anatomy for a fourteenth season, which will premiere in the fall of 2017. The series’ success catapulted such long-running cast members as Pompeo, Dempsey and Oh to worldwide recognition; they were among the top five highest earning television actors in 2013.
Grey’s Anatomy, even in its thirteenth season, is ABC’s highest-rated drama; although its ratings have fallen over the course of its run (it was once among the overall top 10 shows in the United States), it is still one of the highest rated shows among the 18–49 demographic, and the No. 3 drama on all of broadcast television.