'Grey's Anatomy' stars talk series' longevity, changing fan base

LOS ANGELES, California (WABC) -- ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" ended last season with ratings that would be the envy of newer shows, and the momentum has continued this fall.

So how has the medical drama managed to endure a dozen years?

The challenges faced by doctors played by Jason George and Chandra Wilson help keep things interesting, and their relationship is just one reason the 13th season has proven to be so lucky.

"We really attribute it to our fan base, our ever-changing fan base," Wilson said. "People continue to be really interested in these characters, and all of our new babies that come along and joined us."

She's been there since the beginning, but the series has survived the departure of original stars like Patrick Dempsey, who played Dr. Derek Shephard for a full decade:

"We had a lot of fans who said, 'Once Derek leaves, we're never, ever watching again,'" Wilson said. "And not only are they watching, but their kids are watching, and their kids' friends are watching."

The show has survived changes in viewing habits, as tens of millions of fans who once watched live on Thursday night now watch later on their DVRs or binge watch whole seasons via streaming services.

"I think it's been helpful because a whole generation of folks that maybe had heard about the show or maybe stopped watching for awhile, it made them want to go back and catch up," Wilson said.

And both stars credit the show's creator, Shonda Rhimes, for their longevity.

"Shonda knows how to run a show for the long haul," George said. "She's not afraid to do things that will make
the fan base upset in the short term, but at the end of the day, as much as you want your friends on TV to be happy, happy doesn't make for good TV."
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