Have you ever found yourself slumped deeply into your couch in front of the TV when you’re suddenly struck with the strangest bout of recognition, but you have no clue where you’ve see the actor before? Chances are, especially in my case, that they guest-starred on Grey’s Anatomy at least once throughout the show’s fourteen years. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve whipped out IMDB in the middle of something and discovered that the only other body of work I’m familiar with is their two sentence speaking role in an episode circa 2007. The show’s been on so long that plenty of guest stars hadn’t hit their big breaks yet, while others have had varied careers spanning decades! And while there are plenty of people that I’d forgotten had been on the show until a rewatch, there are some that I’d never realized had been on the show in the first place. Here are ten guest stars that snuck past me:
- Katie Lowes
Katie Lowes started off her career with a slew of guest roles, landing one on Private Practice and then, shortly after, as an unnamed blood donor in season seven’s finale “Unaccompanied Minor” (one of my favorite episodes, in case you were wondering). Years later she’d land the role of Quinn Perkins on Scandal, completing a TGIT trinity right under our noses.
- Ken Marino
You’ll likely know Marino most recently as Captain Holt’s incompetent replacement during his stint in witness protection on Brooklyn Nine-Nine (and if you’re me, that’s all you’ll know him from ?), but during season two’s “17 Seconds”, Marino played Brad, a mega-annoying patient who’d barely missed a bullet meant for him by a disgruntled ex-employee. Jaw, meet floor.
- Frances Conroy
Frances Conroy has a long list of credits under her belt, but I didn’t become familiar with her until American Horror Story. Before that, in season seven’s “Can’t Fight Biology”, she played a woman who pretended she drove her car into a laundromat accidentally (but in reality, she saw her husband’s mistress inside and floored it). How very Moira of her.
- Leslie Odom Jr.
Just a few years into his career, Odom Jr. had a guest spot on season five’s “There’s No ‘I’ in Team”, where his character’s father paid him $10,000 to donate his kidney as part of a domino surgery. Years later, he originated the role of Aaron Burr in the musical Hamilton. Shamefully, I never would have tracked it if it hadn’t been pointed out to me.
- Hector Elizondo
Apparently I was firmly in the middle of my teenage, anti-kids movie rebellion when I started watching Grey’s Anatomy, because it blew my mind when I finally clocked that Queen Clarisse of Genovia’s driver, Joe, and Callie’s dad are one in the same.
- Heather Matarazzo
Also from The Princess Diaries, Mia’s best friend Lilly played a woman in labor, caught in a tunnel collapse in season eleven’s “Time Stops” and “You’re My Home”. It’s like I don’t even know her!
- Cheech Marin
To most millennials, Marin is probably best known as Uncle Felix in the classic Spy Kids series, though he’s another industry veteran. In season four’s “Where the Wild Things Are” Izzy searches for the answer to a medical mystery, but there’s no fakery here – the man just had a fractured ankle and the flu.
- Elisabeth Moss
In season three’s “My Favorite Mistake”, Moss played the overprotective daughter of a woman with excessive bone growth. She’s since portrayed a major role in Mad Men and currently stars in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
- Millie Bobby Brown
While she’s now on top of the world thanks to her role as Eleven in Netflix’s Stranger Things, Brown had a small guest spot years before, in season eleven’s “I Feel The Earth Move”, where she played a young girl who calls the hospital directly during an earthquake, looking for help after her mother hit her head.
- Alie Ward
Alie Ward now hosts the podcast “Ologies”, as well as science shows Did I Mention Invention? on the CW and Brainchild on Netflix, but in season two’s “Something to Talk About” she portrayed a pregnant woman whose husband was suspected of having a hysterical pregnancy but had a mass in his abdomen.