The Grey’s Anatomy Cast Salary Explains Why Patrick Dempsey Would Come Back

Grey's Anatomy
Photo: ABC.

Grey’s Anatomy has been on television for more than 15 years, and in that time, dozens of doctors have come and gone at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital (née Seattle Grace Hospital.) All of this makes us wonder what the Grey’s Anatomy cast salary is. We know that Ellen Pompeo (a.k.a. Doctor Meredith Grey) is the richest women at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital (and in television) but what about the rest of the cast? Well, we also know a thing or two about that.

Grey’s Anatomy premiered in March 2005 as a medical drama focusing on five interns at a hospital in Seattle, Washington. Over the years, tons of cast members and doctors have come and went, but the woman who started it all—Meredith Grey (a.k.a. the Grey in Grey’s Anatomy)—has never left us. In Grey’s Anatomy‘s 15-plus years on television, the show has won Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG awards, produced spinoffs and made history as the longest-running medical drama in TV history. But, for the cast, perhaps the best perk of Grey’s Anatomy are the massive paychecks they receive each season. While Grey’s Anatomy isn’t the TV monster it was in its heyday, the show still reels in millions of viewers each week, and that’s reflected in the cast’s salary. Read up on the Grey’s Anatomy cast salary ahead.

Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey)

Ellen Pompeo

Image: Hubert Boesl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images.

Salary: $575,000 per episode

Net worth: $80 million

In 2020, Forbes named Pompeo, who played Meredith Grey since season 1, as the 10th highest-paid actress in television after she earned $22 million in 2019. In 2017, after her costar Patrick Dempsey left Grey’s Anatomy, Pompeo signed a new deal that paid her $575,000 per episode or around $20 million per season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She also received a seven-figure signing bonus and two backend equity points, which made her $6 to $7 million richer. It’s unclear what Pompeo’s salary was before, but in 2007, Reuters reported that she made $200,000 per episode. Celebrity Net Worth reports that her net worth is $80 million.

Pompeo explained in a 2017 essay for THR that she asked creator Shonda Rhimes for more money when it the show runner left ABC for Netflix, which Rhimes agreed to. “What happened is that I went to Shonda [Rhimes] and I said, ‘If you’re moving on to Netflix and you want the show to go down, I’m cool with that,’” Pompeo wrote. “‘But if you want it to continue, I need to be incentivized. I need to feel empowered and to feel ownership of this show.’ And she was like, ‘I absolutely want to keep the show going. It’s the mothership, so let’s find a way to make you happy. What do you want?’”

Patrick Dempsey (Derek Shepherd) 

Patrick Dempsey

Image: Hubert Boesl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images.

Salary: $400,000 per episode

Net worth: $80 million

Dempsey, who played Derek Shepherd until he left Grey’s Anatomy in season 11, made $400,000 per episode at the time of his exit in 2015. Five years later, the actor, who starred on Grey’s since season 1, surprised fans with a return to the series during the season 17 premiere in November 2020 (and it’s likely that his cameo earned him a similarly hefty paycheck!) THR reported that Dempsey’s original exit from the series allowed Grey’s Anatomy to save $9.6 million per season. Celebrity Net Worth reports that his net worth is $80 million.

In her essay for THR in 2017, Pompeo explained that she and Dempsey made the same amount before her raise, but she believed she should make more because the show is titled after her character.

“For me, Patrick [Dempsey] leaving the show [in 2015] was a defining moment, deal-wise,” Pompeo wrote. “They could always use him as leverage against me—’We don’t need you; we have Patrick’—which they did for years. I don’t know if they also did that to him, because he and I never discussed our deals. There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that. At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey’s Anatomy and I’m Meredith Grey. They wouldn’t give it to me. And I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, “I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house.”

Sandra Oh (Cristina Yang)

Sandra Oh

Image: Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA.

Salary: $350,000 per episode

Net worth: $25 million

Oh, who played Cristina Yang, left Grey’s Anatomy in season 10. She starred on the series since season 1. It’s unclear what she made at the time, but in 2012, around the time of season 9, TV Guide, reported that Oh made $350,000 per episode, which was the same amount that Dempsey and Pompeo made at the time. According to Celebrity Net Worth, she’s worth $25 million. In an interview with Vanity Fair in 2018, Oh reacted to Pompeo’s massive raise on Grey’s Anatomy. “I totally understand and remember that struggle for her,” she said. “It’s really good that she feels full circle about that. That she feels righted now.”

When asked about her own salary negotiations, Oh hinted that her experience was different than Pompeo’s. “I don’t see it the same way, in my experience…it’s complicated,” she said. “It’s too complicated, you know what I mean?”

Justin Chambers (Alex Karev)

Justin Chambers

Image: Anthony Behar.

Salary: $9 million per season

Net worth: $18 million

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Chambers, who played Alex Karev, made $9 million per season (or around $375,000 per episode) until his exit from Grey’s Anatomy in season 15. The site reports that he’s worth $18 million. Reuters reported in 2007 that Chambers and other supporting cast members made $125,000 per episode.

James Pickens Jr. (Richard Webber)

James Pickens Jr.

Image: Anthony Behar.

Salary: $125,000+ per episode

Net worth: $13 million

Pickens has starred as Richard Webber since season 1 of Grey’s Anatomy. It’s unclear what his salary is now, but in 2007, Reuters reported that he and other supporting cast members received a raise for $125,000 per episode, which was $75,000 less than what Pompeo made at the time. For a 24-episode season, the salary would equal $3 million per season. Pickens, who likely make more on Grey’s Anatomy now, is worth $13 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey)

Chandra Wilson

Image: Anthony Behar.

Salary: $125,000+ per episode

Net worth: $10 million

Wilson has starred as Miranda Bailey since season 1 of Grey’s Anatomy. She won a Golden Globe in 2007. While we don’t know what she makes now, Reuters reported in 2007 that she was among the the supporting cast members who received $125,000 per episode at the time after the cast’s SAG win. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Wilson, who likely makes more per episode now, is worth $10 million.

T.R. Knight (George O’Malley)

TR Knight

Image: 2007 RAMEY PHOTO.

Salary: $125,000 per episode

Net worth: $3 million

Knight was one of the original cast members when Grey’s Anatomy premiered in 2005. He starred as George O’Malley until he left the series in season 5 after his character’s death. Reuters reported in 2007, two years after Knight left Grey’s Anatomy, that he was among the supporting cast members to receive $125,000 per episode. It’s unclear how much he made at the time of his exit. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Knight is worth $3 million.

Kevin McKidd (Owen Hunt)

Kevin McKidd

Image: Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP.

Salary: TBD

Net worth: $2 million

McKidd made his debut on Grey’s Anatomy as Owen Hunt in season 2 as a recurring character. He guest starred in season 3 before he became a main cast member in season 4. Though his salary is unknown, Deadline reported in 2020 that he was among the supporting cast members to sign new contracts for the series, which came with “significant salary bumps.” E! News reported in 2017 that McKidd has to pay $22,000 in child support and $65,000 in spousal support to his ex-wife, Jane Parker. Parker also receives 20 percent of his income if he makes more than $3 million per year, according to the court docs. According to Celebrity Net Worth, he’s worth $2 million.

Jesse Williams (Jackson Avery)

Jesse Williams

Image: CraSH/imageSPACE/Sipa USA.

Salary: TBD

Net worth: $12 million

Jesse Williams made his debut on Grey’s Anatomy in season 6 as Jackson Avery. After a season in a recurring role, he was promoted to a main cast member in season 7. It’s unclear how much he makes on Grey’s Anatomy, but in 2019, Deadline reported that he signed a new contract with ABC that included a salary raise. Celebrity Net Worth reports that he’s worth $12 million.

Camilla Luddington (Jo Wilson)

Camilla Luddington

Image: Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Salary: TBD

Net worth: $2 million

Luddington scrubbed in a recurring role as Jo Wilson in season 9 of Grey’s Anatomy. She was promoted to a main cast member in season 10. Though her salary is unknown, Deadline reported that she was among the supporting cast members on the show to receive “significant salary bumps” from new contracts. Celebrity Net Worth reports that her net worth is $2 million.

Kim Raver (Teddy Altman)

Kim Raver

Image: Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA.

Salary: TBD

Net worth: $5 million

Raver has had an on and off journey on Grey’s Anatomy. Raver, who plays Teddy Altman, served as a main cast member from seasons 6 to 8. She left the series and returned in season 13 in a recurring role before she was promoted in season 14 back to a main cast member. It’s unclear what her salary is, but Deadline reported in 2020 that she was among the supporting cast members to receive “significant pay bumps” from new deals. According to Celeb Worth, she’s worth $5 million.

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