Character Sheet for Grey's Anatomy. Characters are listed in order of billing in the credits.
open/close all folders
Dr. Meredith Grey (Portrayed by Ellen Pompeo)Meredith Grey is the Narrator for the series, giving a voice-over dialogue for every episode (with very few exceptions). Daughter of a world-famous surgeon, she has been dogged by allegations of nepotism—especially after she also found out that she was sleeping with her boss, also-world-class neurosurgeon Derek Shepherd. The show follows her adventures as she attempts to navigate the world of internship (and eventually residency) at Seattle-Grace Hospital. As the star of a medical drama, Meredith deals with a lot of crap.
Dr. Cristina Yang (Portrayed by Sandra Oh)Meredith's BFF—or "person," in the show's parlance—Cristina (no H) is an Insufferable Genius whom Meredith nonetheless takes to. Bluntly sarcastic, Married to the Job and unashamedly ambitious, she has chosen to specialize in heart surgery, and is known to jump at the opportunity to do cutting-edge, impressive operations. Sandra Oh won a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for the role after the show's first season.
Dr. Alex Karev (Portrayed by Justin Chambers)A late addition to the pilot (Chambers had to be stitched in during re-shoots), Alex personifies Troubled, but Cute and benefits from the All Girls Want Bad Boys trope. When not sleeping his way through the interns, he's also a pediatrics specialist, suggesting that his Man Child tendencies are good for something.
Dr. Miranda Bailey (Portrayed by Chandra Wilson)Originally nicknamed "the Nazi" for her no-nonsense attitude, Bailey was gradually revealed to be Not so Above It All. One of the few characters that every other character likes. Has a son, Tuck, by her husband Tucker.
Dr. Richard Webber (Portrayed by James Pickens Jr.)The Chief of Surgery at Seattle Grace, Dr. Webber is just as no-nonsense, and just as secretly-a-Team Dad, as Bailey is. A well-respected surgeon who has spent most of his career in Seattle, he also carried on a long-term affair with Meredith's mother Ellis, while his own wife Adele looked the other way. He is also the closest thing to a father figure Meredith has.
Dr. Derek Shepherd (Portrayed by Patrick Dempsey)Our first sight of Meredith Grey, in the pilot episode, was of her waking up naked on the couch, realizing she was late for her first day as an intern at Seattle Grace, and shooing her one-night-stand partner out the door. Our first sight of Derek Shepherd, new Seattle Grace hire and God Of Neurosurgery, was when Meredith was assigned to his service and recognized him as her one-night-stand partner. Despite Meredith's concerns over sleeping with her boss, the two entered into a functional relationship... Only to have it disrupted by the arrival of Derek's estranged-but-still-legally-wed ex. And then the second season started and things got really complicated.
Dr. Calliope Torres (Portrayed by Sara Ramirez)One of the first new characters to be added to the cast, Dr. Torres first appears in the second season as a Love Interest to George, who at the time had just had a chance to consummate his crush on Meredith—she was having a weak moment, with the end result that it Went Horribly Wrong. Needless to say, Callie looks appealing by contrast. An orthopedics specialist, Callie lives in the basement of Seattle Grace to save on rent and get a jump on awesome overnight surgeries. She frequently acts as a conscience to the other characters.
Dr. Arizona Robbins (Portrayed by Jessica Capshaw)An attending physician in pediatrics, Arizona was raised in a military family and was named after a battleship. She is The Spock to Callie's McCoy, despite being typically more upbeat and childlike in comparison, and the two have formed a stable marriage together.
Dr. Owen Hunt (Portrayed by Kevin McKidd)A former Combat Medic who toured in Iraq, Hunt serves as Seattle Grace's foremost trauma surgeon. He has an aggressive, sometimes-unorthodox training style and a lot of confidence, which endeared him to Cristina. However, he wants children and she doesn't, which has proved to be a source of friction in the past.
Dr. Jackson Avery (Portrayed by Jesse Williams)One of four new residents introduced in Season Six after Seattle Grace merges with the nearby Mercy-West hospital, Jackson was originally viewed by the main characters as interference and competition. Time and familiarity have made him more accepted, however, and he is currently a plastic-surgery fellow. Though his grandfather is the famous Harper Avery (of the Harper Avery Foundation, and the Harper Avery Award), and his mother the nearly-as-famous Catherine Avery, Jackson was never pushed much because he was "just the pretty one," and became a driven surgeon of his own accord.
Dr. April Kepner (Portrayed by Sarah Drew)Another of the newly-introduced residents, April has gone on to be a trauma surgeon. She is principled, hard-working, neurotic and—quite surprisingly for the show—a 28-year-old virgin, by choice. Rhimes created the character as a Designated Monkey to be disliked and fired after two episodes, but changed her mind and kept her around; this might explain the audience's Love It or Hate It response to the character.
Dr. Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington))One of a new crop of interns introduced in Season 9 and Promoted to Opening Titles in Season 10, Jo seems to have it all together, with Alex mockingly calling her "Princess." But this is Grey's Anatomy, of course she has a Dark and Troubled Past.
Dr. Shane Ross (Gaius Charles)The only male amongst the new five newbies, Shane is dead set on getting into the neurosurgery program. Shepherd isn't so sanguine.
Dr. Stephanie Edwards (Jerrika Hinton)The emotional one of the group, she is primarily known at this point for being Jackson's rebound after breaking up with Kepner.
Dr. Leah Murphy (Tessa Ferrer)The sarcastic one of the group. She's careful about who she lets her guard down with.
Former Main Characters
Dr. Izzie Stevens (Portrayed by Katherine Heigl)The Establishing Character Moment for Isobel Stevens came in the fourth episode of the show, after Alex discovered that she modeled lingerie under the stage name "Bethany Whisper" and pasted her pin-ups all over the hospital. Izzie stripped down to her underwear and castigated the other characters for their sexism, pointing out that her modeling career has allowed her to escape the bank-breaking student loans they all have to live with. She then embarked on an ill-fated relationship with heart-transplant patient Denny Duquette, in the process earning the show one of its two acting Emmys. However, Heigl wanted to focus on her family and burgeoning film career, and asked to be written out.
Dr. George O'Malley (Portrayed by T.R. Knight)One of the original five interns, George was the token nice guy, nursing a very visible crush on Meredith. He then moved on to Callie but ended up caught between her and and Izzie, failed his intern exams, and struck up a friendship with Lexie after being, essentially, held back a year. Eventually he decided to join the Army as a trauma surgeon and save lives. Which he did.
Dr. Preston Burke (Portrayed by Isaiah Washington)The head of cardiothoracic surgery, Burke was ambitious and sometimes arrogant, with his eye set on succeeding Richard as the Chief of Surgery. He and Cristina started a quirky, intense relationship that would have led to marriage if he hadn't done that "leave your bride at the altar" thing.
Dr. Addison Montgomery Shepherd (Portrayed by Kate Walsh)Addison knows how to make an entrance: her first line was also the last line of Season 1, and a Wham Line: "Hi, I'm Addison Shepherd. And you must be the woman who's been screwing my husband." The story of How She Got Here is gradually explained over the next few years: she and Derek married right out of med school, and she eventually cheated on him with his best friend. Derek walked away without even bothering to file for divorce, and she carried on with the best friend until realizing she still loved her husband and wanted him back. An opening in OB/GYN at Seattle Grace was the perfect opportunity. The Triang Relations continued for some time, and while Meredith won Derek, Addison got a consolation prize: her own Spin-Off, Private Practice, which was set in Los Angeles and ran for six seasons before wrapping up in 2013.
Dr. Mark Sloan (Portrayed by Eric Dane)The "McSteamy" to Derek's McDreamy, the two have been close for a very long time; he even served as best man at Derek's wedding to Addison. ...And then was the "best friend" she cheated on Derek with. His presence as a Guest Star in the second season caused quite some strain (Derek punched him), but after he joined Seattle Grace's permanent staff they were able to patch up. This on-and-off-again pattern kind of set the tone for all his other relationships: with Callie, his Platonic Life Partner with whom he had a daughter, Sofia; and with Lexie, his most long-standing romantic entanglement. Mark was written out during the first two episodes of Season Nine, possibly at Dane's behest and possibly because Executive Meddling reduced the show's budget.
Dr. Alexandra "Lexie" Grey (Portrayed by Chyler Leigh)Meredith's half-sister was produced after their mutual father, Thatcher, re-married without telling Ellis. She and Meredith initially had a frosty relationship, due in no small part to Meredith's Parental Abandonment issues, but the two eventually became quite close. Sweet, emotional and featuring a photographic memory, Lexie became something of a Tagalong Kid for the five interns, forming a relationship with Jackson and a crush on George. Her most enduring romantic entanglement, though, was with Mark Sloan. Chyler Leigh, who is kind of Crazy Awesome in real life, eventually decided to move on to other projects, but not before helping to contribute to the Season Eight finale, one of the whammiest Wham Episodes of the series.
Dr. Erica Hahn (Portrayed by Brooke Smith)Burke's former rival, and replacement head of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Hahn was a workaholic who ran Cristina ragged, partially because Cristina reminded her of herself. She became romantically involved with Callie before being unceremoniously written out in the middle of Season Five. Members of the press, and Brooke Smith herself, have alleged Executive Meddling and an attempt to "de-gay" the show, though creator and showrunner Shonda Rhimes claims it was the natural end of Hahn's character arc.
Dr. Teddy Altman (Portrayed by Kim Raver)Theodora Altman is a friend of Owen's, having served as a trauma surgeon alongside him in the Army. Hired as a new head of cardiothoracic surgery and a mentor for Cristina, she initially saw Yang as a rival due to her own unrequited feelings for Owen. Later she got involved with Henry Burton, an ill man with a rare disorder, and married him so that he could take advantage of her health insurance. This was really the only thing she did on the show, which might explain why Kim Raver did not accept a contract renewal when the option was offered her.
Dr. Ellis Grey (Kate Burton)Meredith's mother, introduced in the pilot episode as the person Meredith is narrating the show to. This got dropped, but the fact that Mrs. Grey has early-onset Alzheimer's did not. This simply adds to Meredith's troubles, as one of Ellis's last (lucid) thoughts was that she wanted her condition kept secret. And, as of the pilot episode, she doesn't have a lot of lucid thoughts anymore.
Thatcher Grey (Jeff Perry) and Susan Grey (Mare Winningham)Meredith's spineless father and his new wife. Though Thatcher is typically too intimidated to bond with Meredith, Susan did her best for both of them, alternately pleasing and confounding her stepdaughter with attachment-style parenting. They have two daughters, Lexie (see above) and Molly (Mandy Siegfried).
Joe The Bartender (Steven W. Bailey)The bartender of the bar nearest the hospital, which serves as one of the major nexii of the show (along with the operating rooms and on-call rooms).
Adele Webber (Loretta Devine)Webber's long-suffering wife. Richard believed that he was able to keep his affair with Ellis secret from her, but discovered in the second season how wrong he was. He stayed with her out of honor, though. Like Richard's other great love, she too develops Alzheimer's, and eventually needs to be committed to an assisted-living facility. She earned the show it's other Emmy as a Guest Actress.
Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)A major character in the second season, Dennison Duquette had congestive heart failure spent several years waiting for a transplant. After he arrived at Seattle Grace, he and Izzie fell in love, leading her to (essentially) short-circuit the mechanical bits of his failing heart to bump him to the top of the transplant list. It worked, but then he died anyway, which was a very upbeat and happy way to end the second season.
"Jane Doe" / "Ava" / Rebecca Pope (Elizabeth Reaser)A character introduced in the third season, she was a victim of the same ferry-boat crash that almost killed Meredith. Pregnant and amnesiac, she was brought back to the hospital for repairs and facial reconstruction surgery, during which time she and Alex became involved.
Dr. Ben Warren (Jason George)An anesthesiologist from Mercy West, introduced in the 6th season during the merger arc. He quickly becomes romantically involved with Bailey, though this becomes complicated by his dreams of pursuing a further education and becoming a full-blown surgeon.
Dr. Catherine Avery (Debbie Allen)Jackson's famous mother. She becomes an alternative love interest to Webber, especially after Adele begins to completely forget who he is.