As season 15 of Grey’s Anatomy premieres in 2018, the show is on track to become television’s longest-running medical drama in history, equaling the number of seasons that ER had. Throughout so many years, Grey’s has introduced some of the most compelling characters on TV, and has told some of the most gut-wrenching stories ever aired by a broadcast network.
Among the most remarkable characters that Grey’s Anatomy featured in its very first season are Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), Alex Karev (Justin Chambers), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), and Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.). From season 2 and on, Grey’s introduced even more complicated and compelling characters, some of which are still present in the series.
On the other hand, 15 years later, it was obvious that Grey’s Anatomy was going to make certain mistakes. Not all of the characters introduced to the show were great, remarkable, or even necessary. As a matter of fact, there is a set of characters that actually really hurt Grey’s on a short or long-term basis, making fans question whether the show had lost its footing.
Ultimately, Grey’s Anatomy seems to have learned from its mistakes and capitalized on its strengths, which has positioned the series to go on for a few more years. With so many storylines to reminisce on, it is nice to look back and analyze which characters brought something special to the show, as well as which characters we were probably better without.
These are 10 New Character Additions That Hurt Grey’s Anatomy (And 10 That Saved It).
20 HURT: NATHAN RIGGS
Nathan Riggs was introduced to Grey’s Anatomy on season 12 episode 6, following Derek Shepherd’s exit in season 11. It goes without saying that the production team behind the show was eager to find Meredith Grey a new love interest right away, despite the fact that Derek’s shadow can still be seen even now, many years following the character’s last appearance.
The intentions behind the show’s inclusion of Nathan Riggs, portrayed by actor Martin Henderson, were clear from the very start.
Then, during a very revealing interview with The Hollywood Reporter, actress Ellen Pompeo said this about the matter: “I couldn’t believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a [man] in there. We brought in Martin Henderson, but they didn’t love the storyline, so that ended.”
19 SAVED: DENNY DUQUETTE
Despite the fact that Denny Duquette was only a recurring character on Grey’s Anatomy, he had quite a significant impact on the show as a whole. As a matter of fact, with all of the controversy between showrunner Shonda Rhimes and actress Katherine Heigl (who played Izzie Stevens), it is safe to say that Denny Duquette was the character responsible for softening the blow and making audiences connect with Izzie.
In addition to Denny Duquette’s importance to Grey’s Anatomy, one can argue that this character also launched Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s career into the mainstream. After first appearing on the show in 2006, the actor went on to star in P.S. I Love You, The Good Wife, and The Walking Dead.
18 HURT: ERICA HAHN
By all accounts, Erica Hahn was a pretty unmemorable character from Grey’s Anatomy. Her run in the show was between seasons 2 and 5, which is somewhat short when compared to most non-recurring characters. Her one contribution to the Grey’s mythos was helping Callie Torres realize that she was a bi.
Other than that, however, Erica was never the greatest doctor at Seattle Grace in relation to her co-workers, nor was she a compelling enough character to keep around for many years.
Probably because of her insignificance to Grey’s Anatomy, Erica Hahn’s exit from the series was abrupt and anti-climactic.
She simply decided to quit her job one day, and that marked the end of her story in the show.
17 SAVED: TEDDY ALTMAN
Teddy Altman has been an important character for Grey’s Anatomy since she was introduced on season 6. In hindsight, she has been consistently significant for the show, no matter the storyline she is involved with.
Throughout these many years, Teddy has dealt with being a military service member, having feelings for Owen Hunt, dealing with the consequences of the hospital shooting, and marrying and losing Henry.
It is interesting how Teddy Altman, who became a recurring character after some time, has had more impact on Grey’s Anatomy than many other characters who were actually in the series’ main cast for several years. In season 15, it seems like Teddy will once again integrate the main cast of Grey’s, due to popular demand.
16 HURT: NICOLE HERMAN
As a whole, Nicole Herman was a “love it or hate it” situation among Grey’s Anatomy fans. Until this very day, there are fans who absolutely despise Nicole, whereas others have a fondness for her. However, the numbers do not lie: Nicole appeared in a total of 13 episodes in the series, between seasons 11 and 14. It certainly seems like Grey’s did not make an effort to call her back or keep her around for very long.
Arizona Robbins is one of the most beloved Grey’s Anatomy characters, and Nicole Herman’s attitude toward her certainly did not please the fans.
Ultimately, the show has found a way to redeem Nicole, but she is still considered one of the most hurtful characters to the series.
15 SAVED: MAGGIE PIERCE
Every now and then, Grey’s Anatomy introduces a character that feels so real and so natural that it almost makes you think that they have been on the show the entire time. That is certainly the case with Maggie Pierce, who, after being introduced on season 10, went on to integrate the main cast of Grey’s.
Maggie Pierce, who is Meredith Grey’s half-sister, is by far one of the most talented doctors at the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.
This character has made substantial contributions to Grey’s Anatomy, and various times has played a key role in major storylines. As of late, Maggie had to overcome her crush on Nathan Riggs, who was actually interested in Meredith.
14 HURT: CHARLES PERCY
There was once an entire section of Grey’s Anatomy that was dedicated to a team of doctors who worked at the Mercy West Medical Center. after the hospital merged with the Seattle Grace Hospital. Among those doctors, there was Charles Percy, who is probably among one of the worst characters the show has ever introduced.
Not only was Charles Percy a bad Grey’s Anatomy character, but he also outright hurt the show by being despicable toward the team of beloved doctors in the series.
Thankfully, Charles’ presence on Grey’s came to an abrupt end in the “Unbreak My Heart” episode, relieving fans from having to deal with him. In season 12, the character was featured for a brief cameo.
13 SAVED: JACKSON AVERY
It is easy to forget that Jackson Avery was only introduced to Grey’s Anatomy in season 6. At this point, he certainly seems like a character who has been in the show during its entire run,.
Not only is Jackson a brilliant doctor with a compelling personality who also serves as “eye candy” to the fans of Grey’s, he has also undoubtedly become one of the most important parts of the series over time.
As a matter of fact, during season 14, Jackson played a significant role in the steps that were taken following the assault allegations made against Harper Avery, Jackson’s grandfather, as well as in the creation of the Catherine Fox Foundation.
12 HURT: PENNY BLAKE
No matter how hard Grey’s Anatomy tries to redeem Penny Blake, she will always be remembered as the character who is responsible for what happened to Derek Shepherd.
Sure, Derek had his flaws in the show, but Grey’s fans were still enamored by him and disappointed in his departure from the series. Therefore, it is hard to argue in favor of Penny, even when the series attempted to redeem her on season 12.
It was probably for the best that Penny Blake was escorted out of Grey’s Anatomy before Meredith Grey (and the fans) became even more annoyed by the character.
Moreover, it was also good that the series found a way to end her relationship with Callie Torres, backtracking on their clear attempts to redeem Penny.
11 SAVED: JO WILSON
During its later seasons, Grey’s Anatomy began to tackle very important subjects through the introduction of new characters. For instance, Jo Wilson was brought in to the show during season 9 with the premise of running away from an abusive husband, which became a central storyline in the series.
The fans’ affinity for Jo was so great that producers decided to pair her with Alex Karev, a character who has been on Grey’s since its first season.
Furthermore, the success behind Jo Wilson’s character proved that Grey’s Anatomy can venture beyond medical lingo, rare diseases, and tear-jerking tragedies. Instead, Jo’s storyline was a slow-burner that eventually resulted in her triumph. For good reason, this character is already set to return for season 15.
10 HURT: STEPHANIE EDWARDS
Stephanie Edwards is the perfect example of a Grey’s Anatomy character that the show did not know what to do with.
First, Stephanie was introduced as an intern who had been born with a rare condition known as sickle-cell disease. Then, the show teased with the idea of a fling between her and Jackson Avery, which did not work in any way. Later, Stephanie was a central figure in a fire that started inside the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, which resulted in her ultimate departure from the series.
Throughout her five years on Grey’s Anatomy, it seems like Stephanie Edwards never found her place among the show’s main cast.
Instead, she was pulled in different directions and did not tell an overall significant story.
9 SAVED: LEXIE GREY
It is hard to argue against the notion that Lexie Grey was responsible for one of the largest positive contributions to Meredith Grey's development, and Grey’s Anatomy as a whole.
Lexie was featured from season 3 until season 8, totaling six years in the series. Overall, she was responsible for introducing a different side of Meredith, who'd had little to no connection to her family. Lexie proved to Meredith that she could care more about the people with whom she shared a family bond, which was a new concept to longtime fans of Grey’s Anatomy.
Unfortunately, fate was not kind to Lexie Grey, but she should be celebrated as a character who played a major role in the continuation of Grey’s Anatomy.
8 HURT: MARK SLOAN
During the peak of the “McDreamy” (Derek Shepherd’s nickname) mania, Grey’s Anatomy decided to introduce a childhood friend of Derek’s, who was taller, stronger, and ultimately more attractive.
Mark Sloan, who was promptly nicknamed “McSteamy,” was introduced during the show’s second season. However, the significance of this character always felt odd, almost like the entire point of his presence was to serve as “eye candy” and as a point of comparison for Derek Shepherd.
Eight seasons later, Mark Sloan left Grey’s Anatomy shortly after Lexie did, and without her, he was not missed.
Mark was the optimal example of a character who did not really serve any true purpose for the series and had no story to tell.
7 SAVED: AMELIA SHEPHERD
Amelia Shepherd was initially introduced on the third season of Private Practice, a Grey’s Anatomy spin-off. Then, after that show ended on season 6, fans were pleased to learn that Amelia would be brought to the Grey’s main cast, where she has stayed since.
Being Derek Shepherd’s sister, Amelia always played somewhat of a large role in the show. However, particularly after Derek left the series, Amelia became even more important.
After all, the friendship between Amelia Shepherd and Meredith Grey is arguably what got both of them through Derek’s passing, ultimately validating the decision to bring in Amelia from Private Practice. Furthermore, Amelia is already set to return for the 15th season of Grey’s Anatomy.
6 HURT: LAUREN BOSWELL
Lauren Boswell had one significant storyline during the entirety of her presence on Grey’s Anatomy: she was the woman with whom Arizona Robbins cheated on Callie Torres. Other than that, Lauren served no purpose in the series, which makes her a character whose sole purpose was to ruin one of the best couples in the history of Grey’s.
Thankfully, she was in season 9 of Grey’s Anatomy, which means that the showrunner realized rather quickly that she was not a good character to keep around.
Ultimately, she caused a major crack on the relationship between Arizona and Callie, one that they never managed to overcome, despite finding a way to co-parent Sofia responsibly.
5 SAVED: ARIZONA ROBBINS
Arizona Robbins was introduced as a recurring character on season 5, but the producers behind Grey’s Anatomy quickly realized that this was someone who deserved to stay.
From season 6 on, Arizona became part of the main cast of the show. During season 14, it was announced that actress Jessica Capshaw had decided to leave Grey’s in order to pursue different projects.
All in all, Arizona Robbins is by far one of the most important characters in the history of Grey’s Anatomy, having been a pivotal character to several major storylines, such as the airplane crash, her relationship with Callie Torres (and co-parenting of Sofia thereafter), and her medical contributions to the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital’s fetal surgery department.
4 HURT: LEAH MURPHY
The interns at the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital are always a source of laughter on Grey’s Anatomy. Otherwise, they provide great pools of talent for the show to pick from, transforming lesser-known actors into broadcast television stars. However, that is not always the case.
For instance, the season 9 interns included a character called Leah Murphy, who proved that the Grey’s interns could actually be a major source of headache and annoyance for fans of the show.
Not only is Leah Murphy arguably the most annoying intern in the history of Grey’s Anatomy, she left the series on an undoubtedly sour note.
She filed a harassment lawsuit against Callie, who, of all people, did not deserve that.
3 SAVED: OWEN HUNT
Owen Hunt joined Grey’s Anatomy on season 5, and has since been an integral part of the series’ main cast. Owen came from the military, which added a universe to the show that had not been previously explored. Then, it was later revealed that Owen was going through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is unfortunately a very common condition among military service members.
The introduction of Owen Hunt and the exploration of his PTSD-related issues gave Grey’s Anatomy yet another important subject to tackle, particularly because the show always placed a larger focus on physical illnesses rather than mental ones.
Through the character of Owen, a new audience could watch Grey’s and recognize themselves on TV, which has been one of the most significant driving forces behind the series.
2 HURT: SHANE ROSS
Along with Leah Murphy, Shane Ross integrates the rankings of worst hospital interns to have ever been featured on Grey’s Anatomy.
Most of Shane’s presence on Grey’s revolved around his guilt and sadness over what happened to Heather Brooks.
While this is a matter that one can be sympathetic about, that guilt did not develop into anything else, causing Shane’s presence in the series to be pointless.
Overall, Shane Ross is the prime example of how Grey’s Anatomy can sometimes lose itself while trying to juggle so many different characters. Shane was kept in the show during seasons 9 and 10, but is largely forgotten by most fans due to the fact that he just is not remarkable in any way.
1 SAVED: CALLIE TORRES
Callie Torres only joined Grey’s Anatomy in season 2. However, she was so important to the series, that fans often forget that she was not actually part of the original cast.
Sara Ramírez, the actress who played Callie all of these years, decided to leave the show on season 12, which forced Callie to move elsewhere and caused a crack on her co-parenting dynamic with Arizona Robbins.
Before leaving, however, Callie Torres was incredibly important to Grey’s Anatomy, and should even be credited for introducing the possibility of the show having LGBTQ characters, a practice that later became much more common.
Fans loved Callie so much that, when the Grey’s producers attempted to redeem Penny Blake, they made Callie date her. However, that did not work out for Penny.
Who's your favorite new character on Grey's Anatomy? Let us know in the comments!