Grey’s Anatomy is in its 13th season, and the show still manages to capture our imaginations with the lives and work of the surgeons in Seattle Grace. Some of them have been around so long, they feel like family.
That said, for as many long-term relationships as we’ve had with characters on this show, there have been just as many one-night stands. The Grey’s cast is a revolving door of long-lost family members, visiting doctors, and new interns, but not every storyline succeeds. Occasionally, new characters show up for just long enough to get us attached before being unceremoniously ripped away for reasons unknown.
There are some people we were very happy to see go (see: McVet), but the characters on this list left our heads spinning when their stories ended. Some of them were recurring characters that just stopped recurring, some were series regulars that got abrupt endings, and others were awesome guest stars we wish would’ve stuck around a little bit longer. The one thing they all have in common is that their exits felt premature and we’re still left looking fruitlessly for closure.
Here are 15 Characters That Grey’s Anatomy Totally Abandoned.
15. THATCHER GREY
Meredith’s estranged father appeared quite a bit in Seasons 2-7. He and Meredith tried to forge a new relationship, but that fell apart after the sudden death of Thatcher’s second wife, Susan. After, he behaved venomously toward Meredith because he blamed her for Susan’s untimely end and then spiraled into alcoholism. Eventually he got sober and accepted part of Meredith’s liver after contracting cirrhosis. And then he was almost never seen again…
What makes Thatcher’s lack of appearance after accepting Meredith’s liver donation is that he presumably still lives in Seattle and had another daughter close by (Lexie) with whom he did have a good relationship. But we don’t see or hear anything from him, even after Lexie’s death. It’s possible Jeff Perry was just busy with Scandal, but it’s still weird he wouldn’t have popped up after his daughter died…
14. DR. NORMAN SHALES
This adorable older intern played by Gilmore Girls’ Edward Herrmann confused the heck out of his residents when he showed up on his first day. He was the oldest student ever to be granted admission to the Seattle Grace intern program. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite hack the amount of work and the crazy hours required of surgical interns. But he was incredibly sweet and gave great advice, so he made the more natural switch to psychiatry (after his wife came to him in a dream and told him to).
13. DR. SADIE HARRIS
Sadie George (Melissa George) arrived on the scene in season 5 as Meredith’s college BFF and erstwhile adventure buddy. The two nicknamed each other “Death” and “Dying,” and their friendship is rekindled when Sadie arrives at Seattle Grace as a surgical intern. Unfortunately, things don’t go well for her in the program or in her personal relationships.
Sadie’s free-spirited nature gets her into trouble when she takes part in an intern cabal that involves the students practicing procedures on one another. She’s reprimanded and allowed to stay in the program when the interns are found out, but afterward, Meredith starts to notice Sadie doesn’t know some pretty basic medical information.
12. SYDNEY HERON
Sydney Heron was another surgical resident alongside Dr. Miranda Bailey. She was perky in the extreme, which led her to clash quite a bit with both Bailey and Christina Yang. She would pop up here and there in seasons 2, 3 and 4, sometimes in a teaching capacity, but also as Izzie’s peer counselor after Denny Duquette’s death. She also competed heavily for the position of Chief Resident alongside Bailey and Callie Torres.
But then she just kind of… stopped. The character who’d popped up seemingly at random during the past few years disappeared without any explanation. We don’t know if she quit, moved, or died in a plane crash, which is pretty strange when you consider how prominent a character she was at times.
11. NURSE OLIVIA HARPER
Nurse Olivia landed herself in some hot water when she dated George after a fling with Alex Karev. She contracted syphilis from Karev and passed it to George, much to the chagrin of everyone involved. She was one of the more prominent recurring characters in the first few seasons, and her dynamic portrayal by Sarah Utterback always made us happy to see her. But then she was unceremoniously fired in season 6.
After appearing quite a bit in seasons 1-4, she was conspicuously absent in season 5. Then she popped back up in season 6 as the hospital was about to go through some massive layoffs due to budgetary concerns. Even though she’d worked at the hospital for seven years, she wasn’t safe from the ax, and the show appeared to have brought her back just to get rid of her again.
10. DR. MARGARET CAMPBELL
This entry isn’t so much a “Where did she go?” so much as a “Where was she this whole time?” Dr. Margaret Campbell, played by the flawless Faye Dunaway, was Seattle Grace’s first female surgeon. She was a contemporary of Ellis Grey and had been at the hospital for literal decades before finally appearing onscreen in season 5. She even had a bunch of rude nicknames the other doctors had given her over the years (Dinosaur, Ye Olde Timey, etc.), but we literally never saw her until her one episode, “An Honest Mistake”.
She finally retired after botching a surgery in which she used outdated techniques, and that made sense. What didn’t make sense was the fact, as someone who’d been around as long as she had (she taught Richard Webber), we’d literally never seen her before.
9. CALLIE TORRES
Callie Torres, Seattle Grace’s former head of orthopedic surgery, arrived on the scene in season 2. She started out as a love interest for George O’Malley, and would later go on to become one of the show’s mainstays, sticking around for ten more seasons. That’s what made her quiet departure at the end of season 12 kind of underwhelming and confusing.
Sara Ramirez opted not to return for season 13 after spending the better part of a decade playing Callie, and the character simply moved to New York with her new girlfriend. Granted, not everyone needs to exit Grey’s in a blaze of glory or a tragic end, but it didn’t feel like a proper send-off for such a popular character. It was such a quiet ending that we half expected to see her come back like Arizona did a few seasons before.
8. DR. VIRGINIA DIXON
After Dr. Preston Burke’s abrupt departure, Seattle Grace had a wide opening for a cardiothoracic surgeon. The chief hosted several high-profile candidates in an attempt to find the right fit, and Dr. Virginia Dixon was one of the first.
Played by Mary McDonnell who had just finished her run on Battlestar Galactica, Dixon’s arc was much-hyped. She was billed as a brilliant heart surgeon who also had Asperger’s, which made her interactions with patients and other doctors (namely Bailey) occasionally problematic.
But after wowing everyone with her surgical prowess and making personal headway with Bailey and Yang who was keen to study with her, Dr. Dixon simply disappeared after two episodes. Eventually the chief made an offhand comment about her autism in a later episode, but that’s as much explanation as we ever got about why she didn’t get the job.
7. DR. LUCY FIELDS
Played by Rachael Taylor, Dr. Lucy Fields was a the hotshot OB/GYN that took care of Callie Torres during her pregnancy. That same season, she became one of the many, many women who tried to melt Alex Karev’s heart after Izzie put it through a wood chipper. And it seemed like the two had a good thing going for a little while – she was certainly the first woman he had any real feelings for after the end of his marriage.
But Alex didn’t get himself together in time, so Rachael took a job away from Seattle, and Alex told her to go hell. She skipped town and never looked back. It was pretty abrupt and brutal, even for an Alex relationship. We were looking forward to more from Lucy Fields, but she only got one season, and Alex didn’t exactly give her a reason to return (unless it was to kick his butt).
6. DR. ELIZA MINNICK
Dr. Minnick didn’t make many friends when she arrived at Seattle Grace last season to make changes to the residency program. She was fiercely committed to her teaching methods, despite the fact that they vastly contradicted the hospital’s current practices. She butted heads with the chief and the other attendings, but she did start a relationship with Arizona Robbins despite her miserable work situation.
She was eventually fired from her job after forgetting to let the police know that Dr. Stephanie Edwards was missing after a massive explosion in the hospital. She was so bitter about it she abruptly left Seattle, her apartment, and her relationship without so much as a word to Arizona. It was an unceremonious exit for what was a phenomenally dramatic character, and it was very, very similar to the way Erica Hahn exited seasons earlier.
5. DR. REBECCA SWENDER
When Izzie was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic melanoma, her prospects weren’t great. She had a five percent chance of survival, so her case warranted the attention of rockstar oncologist Dr. Rebecca Swender. Played by Kimberly Elise, Swender was tough-as-nails and took her lead position on Izzie’s case very seriously. She constantly second-guessed McDreamy when it came time for him to remove a tumor from Izzie’s brain. That’s what made it kind of weird for her to totally disappear after Izzie’s treatment was completed.
She remained Seattle Grace’s lead oncologist after Izzie got better, but we never saw her again. There have been plenty of cancer cases since, but apparently none of them are drastic enough to interest Swender, who’s never reappeared. Maybe she’s off playing cards with Dr. Stark somewhere…
5. DR. ROBERT STARK
In season 7, Peter McNichol played Robert Stark, the pediatric surgeon hired to take the place of Arizona Robbins after she won the Carter Madison Grant and moved to Malawi. He was famously difficult to work with, and even had to be physically pulled off a surgery when he insisted on amputating the leg of a patient that Alex Karev thought could be saved.
He had prominent arcs with Meredith Grey and April Kepner, and despite the fact that he openly declared he hated Seattle Grace, he never formally left. But the character was abandoned after season 7 with no explanation. He could still be puttering around in Peds somewhere ignoring his pager, but we may never know for certain. It was a shame, too — the crotchety character was a great foil to the eternally optimistic Arizona Robbins.
4. SLOAN RILEY
Mark Sloan’s daughter showed up on his doorstep in season 6 after her mother kicked her out after she became pregnant at age 18. While Mark had had no previous knowledge of her existence, he attempted to play Dad, even though it eventually cost him his relationship with Lexie Grey. When there were complications with Sloan’s pregnancy, she even crossed over to Private Practice after Mark begged Addison to help.
After she had the baby and gave it up for adoption, she just disappeared back home, and it was a shame because the character was pretty entertaining. It seemed weird she wouldn’t have any future contact with her dad, and it was even weirder that she didn’t make an appearance after the plane crash while Mark attempted recovery before passing away. Did anyone even tell her?
3. DR. STEVE MOSTOW
This nerdy intern graced Seattle Grace during Seasons 4-8. Steve Mostow was assigned to Dr. Yang and had a pretty colorful run for awhile there. He was part of the clandestine group of dumb, dumb interns that practiced surgery and procedures on one another, and he also wound up in an hilarious love triangle with two other interns, Megan Nowland and Pierce Halley. He eventually married Megan, but the two divorced almost immediately after because she’s still hung up on Pierce.
He made it through the major layoffs that happened after Seattle Grace’s merger with Mercy West, but we saw less and less of the successful resident until he just up and disappeared after Season 8. The character wasn’t fired, killed or awarded a magical new job, we just stopped seeing his story.
2. DR. GRACIELLA GUZMAN
The lovely miss Guzman was another intern from the Steve Mostow/Lexie Grey class. Izzie was her resident, and she famously called Stevens the “dud” resident. She regretted it when Izzie turned the table on all of her interns and basically became the boss from Hell. Graciela was much more respectful after Izzie came back to work post-cancer.
Then she stopped showing up on our screens after Season 6, even though she also made it through the massive layoffs that happened after the hospital merger. Granted, with the arrival of the significantly grouchier Mercy West residents, the playing field got significantly more populated.
1. LUCIA TORRES
Callie Torres’ parents, Lucia and Carlos were very wealthy, but very conservative. Carlos famously disowned Callie when she came out as a lesbian. He also turned her entire family against her. If that weren’t enough, he came back later with their family priest in an attempt to “pray away the gay.” Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. Callie and her father patched things up, and when she and Arizona got married, he and his wife flew to Seattle to attend.
But then Lucia backed out at the last minute and refused to show up for her daughter. Carlos went, but as far as we know, Lucia’s still out there pouting over her daughter’s choices. She never reappeared on the show tore solve things with Callie, and since Sara Ramirez left the show, it’s not likely to happen any time soon.
Which other Grey’s Anatomy characters have been abandoned by the show? Let us know in the comments!
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