ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy America’s longest-running medical drama and the cornerstone of creator Shonda Rhimes’ TV’s empire, is known for making pulses race with riveting cases, steamy hookups, tragic losses, and moving performances.
Grey's Anatomy seasons 1-19 are streaming on Netflix.
While Ellen Pompeo will no longer be a series regular when the show returns for its landmark 20th season in 2024, she’ll continue to scrub in behind the scenes as narrator and an exec producer and has hinted at possible future sightings of Meredith Grey.
While you wait for the doors of Grey Sloan Memorial to reopen, here are seven more soapy medical dramas to check out — after you watch the Grey’s spinoffs Private Practice (on Hulu) and Station 19 (also on Hulu), of course.
The previous record-holder for longest-running medical drama, this 1994-2009 NBC drama created by Michael Crichton follows the staff at Chicago's County General Hospital, where we meet kind, levelheaded Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) administering an IV to a hungover colleague, pediatrician Doug Ross (George Clooney), before a building collapse turns the emergency room into heart-pounding chaos.
Season 1 nabbed a whopping 23 Emmy nominations, including the first of multiple nods for Edwards, Clooney, Eriq La Salle, Noah Wyle, and Sherry Stringfield and a win for Julianna Margulies, whose nurse Carol Hathaway is at the center of the series’ first shocking twist.
Standout hours include season 1’s “Love’s Labor Lost,” in which Greene fights to save a pregnant patient and her baby after a misdiagnosis; season 2’s “Hell and High Water” when Ross is a hero; season 6’s scarring “Be Still My Heart” and “All in the Family,” when a patient stabs two doctors; and season 8’s “On the Beach,” which features Edwards’ final non-flashback appearance. Among the series’ noteworthy guest stars: Ray Liotta, Sally Field, Ewan McGregor, Alan Alda, Don Cheadle, Bob Newhart, Forest Whitaker, Stanley Tucci, and Ernest Borgnine.
Yes, the medical equipment now looks out of date. But this 1982-86 NBC trailblazer, set at Boston’s underfunded St. Eligius Hospital, will feel familiar from the moment you meet compassionate first-year resident Jack Morrison (David Morse), who struggles to balance the exhausting workload and his marriage, and surgeon Ben Samuels (David Birney), who spends the premiere informing nurses that he has gonorrhea.
Like Grey’s, the show propelled a number of its cast to stardom, including Denzel Washington, Howie Mandel, Ed Begley Jr., and Mark Harmon (who joins in Season 2). Among its Emmy wins are one trophy for Ed Flanders, as revered top brass Donald Westphall, and two each for William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett, as snappish heart surgeon Mark Craig and his long-suffering wife, Ellen.
Highlights include season 2’s “Qui Transtulit Sustinet,” with a heart transplant that is personal for one of the doctors; season 4’s exquisite two-parter “Time Heals,” featuring flashbacks to the staff’s early days at the hospital; and season 5’s trippy “Afterlife,” in which Mandel’s Wayne Fiscus is shot and visits heaven, purgatory and hell while his friends work to save him (you can guess where he runs into the former colleague who was a rapist and killed by a vigilante nurse). The series finale is legendary for its final reality-altering moment involving a snow globe.
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Hugh Laurie earned six lead actor Emmy nominations starring as Gregory House, the caustic diagnostician who solves the cases that have baffled other doctors in Fox’s 2004-12 hit from creator David Shore. Together, he and his hand-picked team (Jennifer Morrison, Omar Epps, and Jesse Spencer initially) also put the fear of god in viewers about everything in their homes and lives that could kill them.
While House is gruff with everyone, he has a soft spot for his best friend, oncologist James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), and love-hate sexual tension with his boss, Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), who tolerates his abrasiveness and Vicodin addiction because he’s brilliant.
Memorable episodes include season 1’s “Three Stories” revealing more of House’s past; season 3’s “Half-Wit,” guest-starring Dave Matthews as a pianist savant; the one-two punch of season 4’s “House’s Head” and “Wilson’s Heart,” which find House going to mental extremes to try to find and save a fellow passenger in a bus crash; season 6’s two-part opener “Broken,” when House manages some personal growth during a Vicodin-withdrawal stay at a psychiatric hospital; and the series finale, “Everybody Dies,” which has an ending you won’t see coming.
The Good Doctor
Shore also created this ABC tearjerker (2017-present), developed from a Korean hit spotted by exec producer Daniel Dae Kim. The always wonderful Freddie Highmore plays Shaun Murphy, a surgical resident with autism and Savant syndrome, who joins his longtime advocate, St. Bonaventure Hospital president Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff), in San Jose, California.
Even if Shaun does save a boy’s life at the airport on the way there, some of his colleagues are still skeptical whether his near-perfect recall and other gifts outweigh the challenges he faces connecting with people and with sensory issues. Flashbacks reveal Shaun’s difficult childhood, while his present gets more complicated with Glassman having a health battle and Shaun developing feelings for both neighbor turned roommate Lea Dilallo (Paige Spara) and pathologist Carly Lever (Jasika Nicole).
Can’t-miss episodes include season 2’s pre-Covid “Quarantine,” a dramatic two-parter with the hospital on lockdown for an airborne virus; season 3’s “Friends and Family,” in which Shaun visits his dying abusive father, and two-part earthquake finale “Hurt” and “I Love You”; and season 6’s “The Good Lawyer,” a backdoor pilot for a planned spinoff.
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“Everything you thought you knew about medicine is wrong. All the rules you followed we’ll break. I have only one rule, covers everything: I’m never wrong. You do whatever the hell I tell you, no questions asked,” says Conrad Hawkins (Matt Czuchry) to his new protégé Devon Pravesh (Manish Dayal). And Conrad’s the good guy in this 2018-23 Fox drama, which exposes the corruption in the healthcare system at Atlanta’s Chastain Park Memorial Hospital.
That includes coverup of errors like manipulative Chief of Surgery Randolph Bell (Bruce Greenwood) hiding a hand tremor and nicking an artery in the opening moments of the premiere to the intentional over-treatment of patients for insurance fraud by top oncologist Lane Hunter (Melina Kanakaredes). While Conrad schools Devon, he also tries to win back nurse practioner Nic Nevin (Emily VanCamp), his conscience. Other familiar faces eventually joining the cast include Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Jane Leeves, Morris Chestnut, and Andrew McCarthy.
Know that Bell undergoes a slow evolution and redemption over the course of the six seasons, and that while the show hadn’t officially been canceled when its last episode aired, producers had an inkling and made “All Hands on Deck” a satisfying conclusion.
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For a more hopeful take on fixing the nation’s broken healthcare system, there’s this 2018-23 NBC drama starring Ryan Eggold as Max Goodwin, the idealistic new medical director at America’s oldest public hospital in New York City. He demands his staff put patients above billing — a position he makes clear when he fires the entire cardiac surgical department on his first day — and gives them permission to care again.
Before the end of the premiere, Max, who’s expecting his first child with his wife, Georgia (Lisa O'Hare), is diagnosed with cancer himself, which adds an urgency to his plans and brings him closer to the head of oncology, Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman).
Powerful favorites include season 1’s “King of Swords” and “Sanctuary,” with doctors working in blizzard conditions on the street and inside the hospital without power; the gut-wrenching season 1 finale “Luna” with the birth of Max and Georgia’s daughter and the Season 2 premiere “Your Turn,” revealing the aftermath; the season 3 opener “The New Normal,” when a plane crashes into the East River during the Covid pandemic; and the series finale, which features a heartwarming flash-forward (that showrunner David Schulner’s 11-year-old daughter was the first to pitch).
If it’s the personal drama you enjoy most about Grey’s, then this 2010-17 Aussie gem is for you. Asher Keddie earned five consecutive most popular actress awards Down Under starring as thirtysomething obstetrician Nina Proudman, who exhausts herself so much on the clock at Melbourne’s St. Francis Hospital and dealing with her loving but messy family that she falls asleep while having a sexual fantasy about her McDreamy-worthy new colleague, pediatrician Chris Havel (Don Hany).
You’ll think it’s a comedy but stories have a way of turning serious: Nina’s ex-husband, Brendan (Christopher Morris), a ballistics expert who likes to blow things up, is desperate to reunite. Chris’s wife left him and their infant daughter a year ago and is still missing. Nina’s philandering father Darcy (John Waters) becomes a surprise dad again. Her relationship with her silver-tongued sister Billie (Kat Stewart) is threatened by one very bad mistake. And that is just season 1.
As a public service announcement, we feel we should warn you that season 4 has an exit so devastating that there were 10th-anniversary articles written in August 2023 saying fans still weren’t over it. But for Grey’s fans, who are trained in processing that level of grief, it’ll be well worth the ride.
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