Oh sweet, sweet Grey's Anatomy. How we love you. You've done so much for your devoted fans over the years. You've surprised us, made us laugh, made us cry, made us swoon, tugged at our heartstrings, and broken our hearts completely in the fifteen seasons you've graced ABC. And you don't seem to be stopping anytime soon. We're happy for that, thirteen years into a show that just won't quit. Still, you've never been completely perfect. What show is ever perfect, anyway? It's just not possible.
Over the years, some of the Grey's Anatomy writers have made some pretty interesting decisions when it came to giving beloved characters the axe. On the other hand, Grey's Anatomy has also latched on to characters for multiple seasons that were either awful, boring, or just plain useless-- and they don't seem to be going anywhere just yet, for some reason. Some of our favorites got the chop, but the most useless characters around are still kicking. It just doesn't make sense sometimes.
We have put together a list of some character exits that may have been pretty epic at the time, but ultimately hurt Grey's Anatomy, or the very least made it less thrilling. Plus, we threw in some characters that just seriously need to check out. There may be some spoilers ahead if you've just started binge-watching this classic hospital drama, so be wary and tread with caution!
Check out our list of 14 Grey's Anatomy Character Exits That Hurt The Show (And 6 Who Need To Go)!
20 Hurt: Stephanie Edwards
Dr. Stephanie Edwards represented a lot as a Grey's Anatomy character, most notably embodying the trauma one experiences with a chronic illness. Edwards' sickle-cell disease was a focus of her character and pretty accurately depicted what it was like to be poked, prodded, put into clinical trials and tests, and try to survive with an illness that tries to hold you back.
We will admit that her exit was one of the most well-known from Grey's Anatomy, but it was still a bit of a letdown. She literally almost burned alive, survived, and decided to just kind of dip out. Her absence was loud for quite a while, particularly for most of season fourteen.
19 Hurt: Mark Sloan
Whether you loved Dr. Mark Sloan or thought his existence on the show was for pure eye candy, he will always be one of the most iconic characters on Grey's Anatomy. Why did writers have him perish from injuries sustained by a horrible plane accident?
What's more painful is the fact that he had to hold Lexie's hand as she passed and eventually be put on life support. Per his wishes in his will, the plug was pulled a month later. Sloan was the source of so much juicy drama, from being Sofia's father to the whole Addison-Derek affair scandal. Giving him the boot was definitely a mistake.
18 Needs to go: Owen Hunt
This doctor came around in season five and subsequently caused drama with just about everybody, especially romantic partners. Owen was unfaithful to his girlfriend, he led on another woman, he lied about the fate of that woman's husband so she'll finish a surgery, and he fired a great doctor. We're still not over the time he hurt those pigs and made his interns save them, either. There's a little bit of a sociopath in Dr. Hunt.
Maybe you could see his drama-causing as a reason to keep him on, but at this point he's a one-trick pony. You can only be a romantic drama machine for so long before it gets boring.
17 Hurt: Derek Shepherd
On the list of non-titular characters who are super recognizable from Grey's Anatomy, Dr. Derek Shepherd is right up there with Mark Sloan and Cristina Yang. McDreamy's relationship with Dr. Meredith Grey is probably one of the most iconic relationships in television history. The drama of it all!
Unfortunately, Patrick Dempsey was ultimately ready to move on to other endeavors after being a showrunner for eleven seasons and Shonda Rhimes apparently agreed with his decision. However, Shepherd was such a huge part of the show that writing him off that way seemed a bit final. No chance for a return, or even a cameo? The finality of Shepherd's exit left a sting that many fans have not healed from.
16 Hurt: Erica Hahn
Dr. Hahn initially seemed liken a throwaway character. She lacked a personality and had constant tiffs with the other doctors that grew tiresome at times. So why did her departure hurt Grey's Anatomy? Because so much more could have been done with her character.
Given her bond with Callie, one of the most beloved LGBTQ characters on television in a time where we didn't see much representation, they could have kept Hahn on and dug more into her backstory and molded her future. Alas, some things will never be, and Hahn was quickly replaced with another blonde LGBTQ character, as if they were interchangeable.
15 Needs to go: Maggie Pierce
Maggie Pierce ultimately has a good heart and is a nice person. She's also incredibly bright, having graduated from medical school at nineteen years old and gained the head position of her department at twenty-seven years old. However, she is probably the most immature character on the show at present.
She's always complaining about her flings and crushes and she opts for pettiness instead of drama that is actually enjoyable to watch. Imagine being a doctor, surrounded by tragedy and disease on the regular, and still complaining because some very superficial relationship didn't work out. This could obviously be the beginning of some character development, but so far, not much has happened.
14 Hurt: George O'Malley
George O'Malley's passing on Grey's Anatomy is right up there on the list of incredibly memorable and heartbreaking losses from the show. In that sense, it didn't "hurt" the show, but his character still had so much potential and perished before he could even become a surgeon.
O'Malley was a notable fan favorite; kind and gentle in his interactions with other characters. So much could have been done with his character on the show. He could have become an incredible surgeon and a great addition as a main cast member. Instead, he was hit by a bus. That back-and-forth scene between his attempted revival along with Izzie Stevens' was heartbreaking.
13 Hurt: Nathan Riggs
On one hand, Nathan Riggs was just an attempt to create a cheap knock-off of Derek Shepherd after Patrick Dempsey left the show in season eleven. Our show's protagonist needed another attractive doctor to be her love interest, so the writers just kind of tossed Dr. Riggs into the mix.
On the other hand, they could have worked out more of Riggs' interesting connections with Meredith Grey rather than have him depart with his newly returned ex-girlfriend Megan, whom he betrayed before she disappeared in an Army helicopter. He wasn't the best guy and certainly not a new McDreamy, but they could have done so much more with him!
12 Needs to go: Andrew DeLuca
Andrew DeLuca is definitely one of several potential suitors on Grey's Anatomy presently, but is there anything else? There are plenty of fine-looking people on this show that have some kind of personality, some kind of storyline. What does DeLuca have? Not much, other than that scene where he kisses Meredith Grey.
The most relatable aspect of DeLuca is how he struggles to adapt in a highly competitive profession. Anybody who isn't naturally competitive or introverted can vibe with him. Other than that, he's kind of wasted on boring storylines. Someone as charming, funny, and silly as Andrew DeLuca should be given something with a little bit of substance or be set free.
11 Hurt: April Kepner
Dr. April Kepner grew and changed so much through her time on the show. Grey's Anatomy is great at pumping out character development and Dr. Kepner is definitely a character who has developed. She became less self-absorbed, anxious, and cocky. She was actually kind of loveable towards the end, with room to grow further. Kepner eventually has a religious identity crisis involving the lives she's saved and lost, starts a path toward self-destruction, gets it together, almost perished in a car accident, gets married, then is simply written off the show? We don't get it.
Bring Dr. April Kepner back and give her more development!
10 Hurt: Callie Torres
Dr. Torres was part of the main cast for ten seasons, making her stay one of the longest on Grey's Anatomy. While all great things must come to an end, Torres' end was just plain stupid. Torres had become a part of the crew's lives in a very meaningful way, one notable relationship being with Dr. Robbins.
They were a pretty awesome couple, but unfortunately, the writers decided to come up with a custody battle that painted Torres in a bad light and just sort of tossed her out of the show. Her legacy lived on briefly with a few vague references to her existence by Arizona and their daughter. She could have gone out a better way.
9 Need to go: The interns (as a group)
Some may see the new interns every season as quirky and fun and cute. Some may see them as a very important part of the show, as they usually spawn future main doctor characters and have always been a part of every one of Grey's Anatomy's seasons.
At the same time, the intern filler episodes get more and more annoying every year. Sure, some people may want a break from the Grey's Anatomy multiple storylines and emotional warfare, settling for one-off episode or two with fresh new faces. When you have to wait a while between episodes to see what happens next, it's always annoying to discover that this week is an intern filler episode.
8 Hurt: Addison Montgomery
Dr. Shepherd's ex-wife and talented surgeon Addison Montgomery was probably one of Grey's Anatomy's best characters of all time. Her history was intense and she was very hard to ignore on-screen in the best way possible. Despite this, she was only on the show for three seasons. Why did writers just decide to make her baby crazy and write her off in season three?
Dr. Montgomery was written off of Grey's Anatomy to be one of the stars of a spinoff series called Private Practice that aired between 2007 and 2013. They should have kept Montgomery on Grey's Anatomy and explored her very well-played character more instead of wasting her on a less popular spinoff-- or had her return full-time once Private Practice ended.
7 Hurt: Lexie Grey
In a way, we watched Lexie Grey grow up on Grey's Anatomy. From her introduction in season three as Meredith Grey's younger but equally talented sister to her success as a surgical resident in season six, she was a likable character who left a bit too early.
While it was ultimately unavoidable (actress Chyler Leigh wanted to spend more time with her family and take a break from acting), it was tough to see her go in such a tragic and painful way after watching her find a lot of success and joy in life. Anybody else could have been on that plane, why did it have to be Little Grey? She was nerdy, sweet, and they could have explored her future in an interesting way had they decided to not write her off in a plane crash.
6 Needs to go: Carina DeLuca
What an explosion Carina DeLuca was when she first showed up as a female researcher and OB/GYN in season fourteen. Unfortunately, she's still here. Sure, she's beautiful. She's Italian. She's gay. She loves her brother. She ultimately found Amelia's brain tumor. But if Arizona has been written off the show, what possible plot point would keep her in the show?
DeLuca is about done with the female research trial and so far she's been given lame storylines that don't do her potential justice. Ultimately, writers should just let her go or give her something actually substantial. This is unlikely, as season fifteen has already been teeming with storylines and drama.
5 Hurt: Arizona Robbins
This one really hurt too. Arizona Robbins was one of the most fascinating character additions to Grey's Anatomy in season six. She's one of the few LGBTQ characters on the series. Her storyline was incredible and realistic, from her troubled relationship with Torres to the whole custody battle to the whirlwind romance with Carina.
More than her romantic encounters, her breakdown over the car accident with Torres was heartwrenching and her difficult acceptance of her amputated leg was equally heartbreaking. To just simply write her off without giving her a great ending is just plain unfair. Robbins deserves a proper sendoff, but it doesn't look like that will happen anytime soon.
4 Hurt: Teddy Altman
Teddy Altman served two purposes as a character on Grey's Anatomy: to be someone you sympathize with, especially if you've experienced extreme grief, and to be someone that left an impact on the rest of the cast. She succeeded in both, so many fans would probably agree that it was time to give her the boot.
However, Dr. Altman's departure seemed rushed and kind of depressing. Instead of taking the offer to be in a high-ranking position in the Army Medical Command (and possibly adding more to her story), she is fired by Owen to get her out of the hospital where her husband perished. Luckily, it looks like Altman has made a return in season fifteen.
3 Needs to go: Amelia Shepherd
We all know why Amelia is on Grey's Anatomy. Derek Shepherd lost his life, we were all upset about it, and the presence of a loved one who is also dealing with his passing on-screen was a well-intentioned idea. It's too bad we were given a character that's so indecisive and a genuine brick wall.
Her character had some potential, but anytime the opportunity comes for her character to develop or even talk about things, she's tight-lipped. It makes us wonder how Hunt and Shepherd stayed together for a year of marriage. It's better that she be written off now, since they seemingly don't plan on doing anything else with Amelia Shepherd's character.
2 Hurt: Izzie Stevens
You could say Dr. Izzie Stevens was an infuriating, self-centered and immature little piece of work. You wouldn't be wrong. On the other hand, you could see Stevens as an incredibly flawed character that goes through so much during her run on the show. She loses the man she loves after risking her entire career to save him, and she evens survives cancer.
Her departure left so many unanswered questions. Did she finally grow up? Did she finally get her life figured out? We'll probably never know, as Shonda Rhimes has said pretty clearly that she will not be bringing Stevens back for future seasons.
1 Hurt: Cristina Yang
This one is just infuriating. Dr. Cristina Yang is probably the greatest character from Grey's Anatomy. She's a rough-and-tumble, cynical, and managed to be one of the most serious and comedic characters at the same time. She's an example of incredible character writing and superb acting skills. Her romantic relationships and beautiful friendship with the show's namesake was steeped with drama and excitement.
Her departure was total bull and not nearly as epic as it could have been. Grey's Anatomy will never be the same without her. If this was a ranked list, Cristina Yang's exit would probably be number one as the exit that hurt Grey's Anatomy the most.
Which Grey's Anatomy character needs to go, in your opinion? Let us know in the comments!