This Tiny Detail Nearly Ruined Grey’s Anatomy’s 300th Episode

Photo: Mitch Haaseth/ABC.
It's the little details that count, which is probably why it's a very tiny detail that ruined the 300th episode of Grey's Anatomy for showrunner Krista Vernoff. She spoke with TVLine about the milestone episode and admitted that it was one very small thing that "devastated" her in a big way.
If you paid close attention to the opening credits of Grey's Anatomy's 300th episode you might have seen a familiar name that hadn't been on the show in awhile: Kate Burton, who played Meredith Grey's late mother, Ellis Grey. "I’m not going to lie — I was devastated when I saw her name in the opening credits," Vernoff said. "I didn’t spot it until the crew screening Thursday afternoon. And I actually started to cry."
By then, Vernoff said it was too late to remove it from the final version. "By the time I saw the credits it was 3:30 p.m. in Los Angeles," she said. "It takes them days to burn the episodes that the affiliates are screening. There’s no opening the show back up on the same day." So Vernoff had to hope for the best, which meant hoping fans wouldn't catch the mistake, which she says was one of those things "that slips through the showrunning cracks."
"You are doing one million things on any given day and you think everybody knows that Kate Burton shouldn’t be credited on this episode," she told TVLine. "Everybody knows that this is the biggest surprise of the episode, and you assume that they would’ve made a deal with her that allows it to be an uncredited cameo."
Vernoff admitted that it never really occurred to her to check in about this, but now she wishes you did. After TVLine asked the question — it was the first one, by the way —she said, "You have nailed the one thing that broke my heart."
There were some fans who noticed Burton's name in the credits. "Just peeped kate burton's name in the credits," one fan wrote. "ELLIS IS COMIN, Y'ALL." Most didn't seem annoyed by the gaffe, but thrilled.
In the episode, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) sees lookalikes of people from her past like Cristina (Sandra Oh), George (T.R. Knight), and Izzie (Katherine Heigl), but Burton was the only actress who came back for the 300th.
Ellis pops up when Meredith is watching a video feed from the Harper Avery Awards, which is given out to the best doctor. Meredith couldn't attend, but when she wins she catches a glimpse of her mum in the OR gallery clapping for her. It's the scene that left fans shook.
"Out of all the people they could have brought back, Ellis Grey made the most impact," one fan wrote. "You can see it on Meredith’s face, she finally has that approval that she was always seeking from her mother. That split second broke me. Amazing."
It also left the showrunner feeling all kinds of things. "I can't even talk about the Kate Burton," Vernoff tweeted after the episode, "because the tears will drown my keyboard."
Vernoff told TVLine that it was Shonda Rhimes' idea to bring Burton back. "Shonda came to the table read and turned to me with basically one note: 'Get Kate Burton to stand in that gallery and clap.' And I burst into tears when I said it [because] actually bringing the actress in is not cheap. Budgetary realities are real on this show. And bringing in an actress to stand in one scene and clap was exactly the right move."
That's because Vernoff said it felt "like a series finale moment, because 300 episodes — that is epic. That is so rare. It’s such a big deal."
So, maybe it ruined a bit of the surprise, but Vernoff should rest assured, that's all it did.
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