Grey’s Anatomy has become one of the biggest shows in television history. Going on its fifteenth season, Grey’s Anatomy follows a group of doctors as they learn how to improve themselves, deal with patients, and maintain personal lives on top of all of that. The primary doctor this show focuses on is Meredith Grey, a legacy child whose mother broke the glass ceiling on her way up to the top. The characters on this show have truly been outstanding thanks to Shonda Rhimes. They are dynamic and authentic, making many of us forget that these people we watch every week are a work of fiction.
While some characters have been pivotal to the show, others have been a little iffy. Whether viewers did not like the character, the actor, or the way the plot was left with them, these characters can truly make or break this show. Over the fifteen seasons of this show, we have been introduced to more characters than most can count. The difference is that some of these characters made people question Shonda’s choices, while other characters had us bowing down to Shondra and her spectacular creations. Which characters made each list? Who did we miss that you believe should have been on this list?
20 Hurt: Losing Jessica Capshaw Caused Fan Fury
Jessica Capshaw had the fan favorite role of Arizona Robbins. Arizona was a pediatric surgeon. She was also a member of the LGBTQ+ community, marrying a female co-worker during the series. Arizona helped give a voice to this community while also working as an amputee. She spoke to many hearts. According to Metro, fans were outraged that Grey’s Anatomy was getting rid of Arizona because they no longer felt represented on the show. While Jessica was sad to leave the show, she hopes that Shonda will continue on Arizona’s legacy through the remainder of the series, as shown on her social media page per Metro.
19 Helped: Patrick Dempsey Was McDreamy Until The Very End
Some people may know Patrick Dempsey’s Grey’s Anatomy character as Derek Shepherd. Others may know him as the doctor referred to as McDreamy. McDreamy was the hunky neurosurgeon that happened to be the love interest of Meredith Grey. The two often went back and forth about their decision to get married and have children. In the end, the two did get married and adopted one child and had two more. Fans loved having him on the show, but his tragic passing in a car accident on the show left fans in shambles, per Bustle. However, this made people want to watch more to see what happened with Meredith and her family.
18 Hurt: Sarah Drew’s Departure Was A Surprise To Her And The Fans
Sarah Drew played the lovable and slightly neurotic April Kepner on Grey’s Anatomy. April was one of the first devout Catholics on the show, really pulling her religion into every element of the show, per Metro. This was how Sarah Drew was in real life as well. The end of April’s character came as a complete shock to fans and to Drew, as it came at the peak time for April. April had just found love, peace from the child she had lost and was co-parenting well with Jackson. Drew was on the show for nine years and she released a statement when she found out she was off the show, according to Metro.
17 Helped: Ellen Pompeo Defies Odds On The Show And In Real Life
Ellen Pompeo’s portrayal of Meredith Grey has been a crucial part of the show, which is named for her and her mother. Pompeo brings a darkness to Meredith Grey’s character that would be the result of a traumatic childhood. She is the ultimate superwoman, balancing being a surgeon, mother, and teacher while being introduced into dating again. Pompeo also stands up in the hospital to continue to fight for women, much like she does in the real world. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pompeo had to fight to get paid like the men on the show, negotiating a $20 Million deal.
16 Hurt: Having Brooke Smith Written Out Caused Outcries Despite A Lack Of Chemistry
Brooke Smith had a relatively short stint on Grey’s Anatomy as a cardiothoracic surgeon, Erica Hahn. Erica was an important character in the show, as she was a love interest for Callie Torres. This was one of the first major same-gender relationships on a major television show, as per TV Guide. Callie had to help Erica realize that she was batting for the same team, though. People, including Smith, were angry at her departure, saying it would not have happened to a heterosexual couple on the show, as per TV Guide. People got on board with this argument. Shonda Rhimes declared that this was actually due to a lack of chemistry that we could all see on television.
15 Helped: Giacomo Gianniotti Has Become A Resident Favorite
Giacomo Gianniotti plays one of the newer heartthrobs on Grey’s Anatomy named Andrew DeLuca. Although he has had some low moments, like almost remanding Alex to a life behind bars for years and for being a weak link to start, he worked his way up to become a fan favorite. According to Elite Daily, his goofiness and vulnerability make him a real character. From not forgiving Alex for almost killing him to moving in with Arizona when no one else would take him in, he had to overcome a lot of struggles. The fact that he could also speak the native language of Italy and breaks out into it when he is frazzled certainly helped some viewers swoon.
14 Hurt: Katherine Heigl And Her Character Brought Too Much Drama To The Show
Often times, people forget that Katherine Heigl was an important part of the initial Grey’s Anatomy cast. She played Izzie Stevens, a supermodel turned doctor. She had a lot of emotional baggage on the show, especially once she was diagnosed with cancer and married Alex shortly before disappearing. Unfortunately, Heigl’s character was written out of the show due to her rumoured diva-like behavior, according to US Weekly. Heigl withdrew herself from the Emmy’s and said it was because she thought her material in the show was not good enough, then causing a battle with Shonda Rhimes. People were either Team Katherine or Team Shonda.
13 Helped: Eric Dane Brought Love, Humor, And Looks To The Show
Eric Dane was the hysterical Mark Sloan on Grey’s Anatomy. He started the series on a rough note, as he had been Dr. Shepherd’s best friend and the person Addison betrayed Derek with. As the series progressed, this plastic surgeon became a beloved character. He took characters under his wing and added humor into scenarios. When he started dating Lexie Grey, the fans went wild. This is actually why he was removed from the show following injuries sustained in a plane crash, according to the Huffington Post. Shonda did not want fans to see Mark grieving and sad for too long, so she let him be with Lexie in one final reunion when he passed.
12 Hurt: Isaiah Washington Brought Hate To The Show, And A Yo-Yo Relationship
Isaiah Washington’s character, Preston Burke, was present from the very beginning of Grey’s Anatomy. He was a bit egotistical and believed he would be the next Chief of Surgery. He did not like when people got in his way and often had angry outbursts. When he started dating Cristina, things got even more complicated. Their relationship was like a yo-yo up until he left her at the altar on their wedding day, upsetting fans for their beloved Cristina. Behind the scenes, Washington carried on his attitude, using derogatory terms towards a homosexual cast member, according to Entertainment Weekly. Fans did not want to tolerate this behavior and he was written out of the show.
11 Helped: Chyler Leigh Was The Balance To Meredith Grey
Chyler Leigh came into the show as Lexie Grey, Meredith’s half-sister that barely knew her. She tried to keep her identity hidden for a short period of time from Meredith, but that did not last long. While Meredith was hesitant to open up to her at first, she slowly let Lexie in. Lexie had incredible intelligence and compassion for all people. She became one of Meredith’s best friends and confidants. When Lexie didn't survive a plane crash, we saw more emotion from all the characters in the show. It softened everyone, even if just for a moment. While sadness was felt, everyone wanted to see the next moves, according to E News.
10 Hurt: Sandra Oh Was A Fan-Favorite That Left Us Heartbroken
Sandra Oh played Meredith’s “person,” Cristina Yang through Grey’s Anatomy. While Cristina was often very serious and stone cold, she brought out the best in Meredith and vice versa. Their friendship was something that people today still envy, with people often referring to their best friends as their person. When Cristina moved away to pursue medicine elsewhere, therefore leaving the show, fans were heartbroken, as was Sandra Oh, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Ten seasons of friendship and attempted relationships went out the window and broke everyone’s hearts. Cristina went out the way she came in, with Burke, which was a disappointment to the Owen fans.
9 Helped: Sara Ramirez Was A Fierce Role Model That Brought Dimension To The Show
Sara Ramirez being added to the cast of the show was empowering for so many people. Callie Torres was one of the first regularly featured bi characters on television. Callie had relationships with both men and women and even had a child with a man that she co-parented with him and her wife. Callie was also an incredible orthopedic surgeon that would not take lip from anyone. According to US Weekly, she spent ten years on the show before she decided to leave. While this upset fans, people wanted to see the legacy that Callie left and how it unfolded.
8 Hurt: Martin Henderson’s Character Was Barely There
Martin Henderson’s Grey’s Anatomy character, Nathan Riggs, was destined for fans to dislike right away. Instantly, viewers saw that Owen Hunt had a great disdain for him, even fighting him in the hall one day. This made it so the other doctors often tried to avoid him overall. When he finally broke down the barriers, he became a love interest for Meredith Grey. Not only could he never replace Derek, but he left Meredith for the wife that he thought had passed away! While Deadline reports that Henderson had a great time on the show and loved his happy ending, it left fans angry that Meredith would have to go through more pain.
7 Helped: Jesse Williams Shows The Struggles And Triumphs Of Being A Legacy
Jesse Williams’ character, Jackson Avery, has had a difficult story from the start. He tried to keep it under wraps that he was an Avery, which is an important medical family in the Grey’s Anatomy world. He also had to switch hospitals to be a part of the Grey’s cast, making him a newbie. Mark Sloan took him under his wing and helped him learn the magic of plastics, much to his mother’s dismay. Many characters figured Jackson got everything handed to him. According to the Huffington Post, the fans seeing him work hard at everything he did and work against his mother helped them love him even more, especially as the cast noticed.
6 Hurt: Saying Goodbye To New Fan-Favorite Jerrika Hinton Was A Tough Loss
Jerrika Hinton, who played Stephanie on Grey’s Anatomy, became a fan favorite quickly. She was smart, witty, and openly honest. On the show, she started as an intern that worked for everything she had. Even the doctors on the show loved her. When Stephanie battled a criminal to help save herself and a child on the show, no one was surprised by her outstanding courage. After surviving and being brought to the burn center, fans were not happy to hear that Stephanie was quitting, as per The Hollywood Reporter. Since she had been a sick child, Stephanie wanted to be out of the hospital now. In real life, Jerrika wanted to explore other avenues.
5 Helped: Chandra Wilson Proves Hard Work Pays Off, With A Price
Chandra Wilson has been in the world of Grey’s Anatomy since our favorite characters were interns. As Dr. Bailey, Wilson has helped break down barriers, shape new doctors, and work to become the chief. The doctors all have great respect for her, despite often being afraid of her wrath. Fans have grown to love and trust her and were devastated when she had a heart attack that she self-diagnosed, according to Entertainment Weekly. Luckily, Dr. Bailey is bouncing back nicely from this health event and is continuing with the show, proving that dedication and hard work can bring any of us anywhere.
4 Hurt: Kim Raver’s Teddy Altman Is Cold And Breaks Owen’s Heart Regularly
Kim Raver plays the doctor Teddy Altman that comes in and takes over the cardiothoracic department. She mentors Cristina Yang, whom she considers a close friend. At the same time, she is trying to get back with Owen Hunt, who was Cristina’s boyfriend. She frequently lets Owen down and breaks his heart. She also often comes off cold and uncaring. We do not see much emotion from her until she comes back to the show and says that she is pregnant, according to TV Guide. If she stayed away, who knows if Cristina and Owen would still be together. Now fans are anxiously awaiting what will become of Owen and Amelia when Teddy's news finally surfaces.
3 Helped: Justin Chambers Went From Underdog To Fan-Favorite
Justin Chambers plays the tough, yet lovable Alex Karev. Alex had a troubled past that he continues to work to overcome, despite his past always coming up to bite him. Many people often underestimate him, assuming he could never be a doctor due to his looks or his attitude. He turns this around and becomes a pediatric surgeon. He is even bouncing back from a broken heart by dating Jo Wilson, according to Bustle. Alex is always there for Meredith, which makes it easier for fans to love him, especially since he is so protective and caring. He keeps defeating the odds.
2 Hurt: Some Fans Are Conflicted If Camilla Luddington’s Jo Is Good Enough For Alex
Camilla Luddington’s character, Jo (Wilson) Karev, started off as an intern. She has been racking up over time as one of the only surviving interns from her class. Jo had a troubled past, from living in her car to being in a difficult marriage. She started dating Alex during the show and kept leaving him and kept him in the dark about important elements of her life, such as her marriage. According to Bustle, Jo would have to make the decision to take Alex away from Meredith or to stay at Grey Sloan. Fans do not like her jealousy of Meredith, but love that Alex seems to be happy. Many fans are conflicted about her, but it doesn't seem Chamber's character is since the two are now newlyweds.
1 Helped: T.R. Knight Was Always There And Worked Through Adversity
T.R. Knight played the lovable, dorky George O’Malley through the beginning seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. George was always there to help everyone. After marrying Callie Torres, George didn't pass his intern exam, making him have to intern under Meredith. He often lent a helping hand to his peers and would be the ear to listen to everyone’s problems. Everyone wanted a George in their lives. In real life, T.R. Knight had to overcome a lot of difficulties in the workplace to continue with his job. He did just that but was removed from the show in a bus versus man accident after feeling unfulfilled, as per Entertainment Weekly.