Every ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ character ranked by how many episodes they’re in, from McWidow to McDreamy

grey's anatomy

  • "Grey's Anatomy" returned for its 17th season on November 12, 2020.
  • Over the course of its 365 episodes (and counting), there have been 33 series regulars.
  • Only three actors have remained the entire time: Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson, and James Pickens Jr.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

When you think of "Grey's Anatomy," most people think of the original crew: Meredith, Derek, Alex, Burke, Cristina, Mark, and George … but over the course of 17 seasons, there are newer people who have been around much longer than the first cast.

There have been 33 series regulars in "Grey's Anatomy" history, and we ranked them in order of least to most episodes on the show.

Keep scrolling to see how long your faves were actually on "Grey's Anatomy."

Winston Ndugu: 3 episodes (season 16-present)

Winston was only in a single episode at the end of season 16 before it was announced he had been promoted to series regular for 17. So far, all we really know about him is that he's madly in love with Maggie, and they're currently doing long-distance between Seattle and Boston, but we're sure he'll be moving to Seattle in no time.

Cormac Hayes: 11 episodes (season 16-present)

Hayes, nicknamed "McWidow," was introduced in season 16 as a "gift" from Cristina to Meredith all the way from Switzerland. The pediatric surgeon knows what it's like to mourn your spouse and be a single parent while juggling surgery — in other words, this Irish sweetie may be the perfect next love interest for Meredith.

Erica Hahn: 25 episodes (season 2-5)

Erica Hahn first appeared in season two as a rival heart surgeon for Burke, whose patient unfortunately loses his potential heart donor to a little patient named Denny Duquette. However, that wasn't the last we saw of her — after Burke left "Grey's Anatomy," Erica was brought in as a new cardio surgeon, and helped Callie realize that she was bisexual.

Unfortunately, after finding out that Izzie, the doctor who committed a crime in order to steal Erica's heart donor, was still working at Seattle Grace, she walked into the hospital parking lot and was never seen again.

Atticus "Link" Lincoln: 43 episodes (season 15-present)

Link was introduced in season 15 as our new orthopedic surgeon and a close friend of Jo's. At first, there didn't seem to be much to Link, but as we learned about his life, his childhood cancer, and his complicated relationship with his parents, we realized he's actually the best.

Season 17 finds him basking in the birth of his son with his girlfriend, Amelia. But this is "Grey's," so something will inevitably go wrong.

Thomas Koracick: 45 episodes (season 14-present)

Koracick, one of the more delightful new additions to the cast, is extremely prickly to everyone except Teddy and Catherine. As the former "Chief of Chiefs," he's constantly annoying everyone, but every so often, he lets his guard down and becomes a little more vulnerable. He bonds with Bailey over losing a child, operates on Zola after her shunt becomes infected, and regularly makes swoon-worthy speeches to Teddy.

Leah Murphy: 46 episodes (season 9-10, 12)

Murphy was part of the new class of interns in season nine, but she only lasted one more season before she was fired by Richard for being a good doctor, but not a good surgeon. Her main storyline? She was hooking up with Arizona while she and Callie were on a break and filed a sexual harassment claim against Callie for compromising her education, leading to a temporary "non-fraternization policy" between the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.

She briefly returned in season 12 and was rehired after she trained and worked hard at another surgical program, but we haven't seen her since.

Shane Ross: 47 episodes (season 9-10)

Ross was another intern added in season nine. He was involved with Cristina, both romantically and professionally. At the end of season 10, she invited him to come and work in Switzerland with her, and he agreed.

Nathan Riggs: 48 episodes (season 12-14)

Riggs was brought in during season 12, clearly as a replacement for Derek, but also a cardio replacement for Cristina. He was also the ex-best friend and brother-in-law of Owen, but he was under the impression that his wife, Megan Hunt, had been killed in action in the Middle East. This turned out to be untrue, and Riggs and Megan rode off into the sunset together at the end of season 14.

Addison Montgomery: 59 episodes (season 1-3, guest appearances in season 4-8)

Introduced in an iconic cameo appearance in the season one finale, Addison began as a villain, and ended as one of our favorite characters of all time. As any "Grey's" fan knows, Addison and Derek were married and lived in New York City before Derek caught Addison cheating with his best friend Mark. Then, he packed up and moved to Seattle, thus setting the events of "Grey's Anatomy" in motion.

Addison, an accomplished neonatal surgeon, moved to Seattle to try and win Derek back, but eventually conceded that Meredith and Derek were meant to be. She stuck around for a bit before moving to Los Angeles and starring in her very own six-season spin-off, "Private Practice." She hasn't been seen on "Grey's" since season eight.

Levi Schmitt: 61 episodes (season 14-present)

Schmitt is part of the fourth class of interns on the show, and originally started out as a dweeb nicknamed "Glasses" living in his mom's basement. But now, he's finding his confidence, started wearing contacts, and came out to family. He has the distinction of being "Grey's'" first gay male series regular.

As for season 17, Schmitt still has a complicated relationship with ortho fellow Nico, so we'll see where that leads.

Preston Burke: 63 episodes (season 1-3, season 10)

Oh, Burke. The show's first cardio god, and first extremely traumatic exit. For three seasons, fans watched Burke and Cristina fall in love (it wasn't always a smooth journey) and were prepared for the two to get married in the season three finale. Instead, Burke realized he was trying to force Cristina to be something she wasn't, and he left her at the altar.

He reappeared seven years later in Switzerland to give Cristina his chief job, as he wanted to retire and spend more time with his wife and kids.

George O'Malley: 108 episodes (season 1-5)

George "007" O'Malley was the first of the original five interns to leave the show, and what an exit it was. After going from the guy who almost killed someone on his first day and failing his intern exam to becoming one of the most compassionate and talented surgeons in his class, George enlisted in the US Army and was on his way to tell his mom the news when he pushed a woman out of the way of an oncoming bus and was dragged for blocks.

He was brought in as a "John Doe," but Meredith was able to identify him via his "007" nickname. Tragically, he died in the season five finale.

Teddy Altman: 114 episodes (season 6-8, 14-present)

At first, Teddy was brought in as yet another cardio replacement and one of Owen's best friends and fellow veteran (whom she clearly was in love with). Over her first tenure on the show, fans saw her get over Owen and fall in love with her husband, Henry — yes, they were married and then fell in love — but he died on the operating table. She then left to take a chief job in Europe.

Teddy returned for a brief appearance in season 14. She was once again a main character from season 15 through the present. Currently, she's trying to deal with the fact that she cheated on Owen, her fiancé and father of her child, with Koracick.

Lexie Grey: 119 episodes (season 3-8)

Lexie, or Little Grey, as some called her, was Meredith's younger half-sister with a photographic memory. She was introduced in the second class of interns, and over the course of six seasons, she became a strong, confident surgeon and had a very tumultuous relationship with Mark. She also became very close with Meredith.

Sadly, she died in the season eight finale in the infamous plane crash and had one of the most heartbreaking final scenes with Mark in the history of the show.

Stephanie Edwards: 120 episodes (season 9-13)

It seemed that Edwards and Jo were introduced as part of the third new class of interns to be the next Meredith and Cristina. And while they gave it their best shot, no one compares to the original.

Edwards had three big plotlines during her five seasons on the show: She was dating Jackson when he decided to interrupt April's wedding, she dated a patient played by Wilmer Valderrama who died and it shook her very hard, and she decided to leave the hospital after experiencing a very harrowing fire and saving a kid from dying.

We can't help but feel Jerrika Hinton was underused during her tenure on the show. Come back, Edwards!

Andrew DeLuca: 122 episodes (season 11-present)

On DeLuca's first day at the hospital, he pretended he was a surgeon, rather than the lowly intern he actually was. That set up his character for the rest of the series — he always thinks he knows best.

He's also been through the ringer. He almost got beaten to death by Alex over a misunderstanding, his girlfriend Sam was at risk of getting deported and had to move to Switzerland, he almost lost his hands to frostbite, and he is currently dealing with the fact that he most likely has bipolar disorder, like his father.

DeLuca is also the first person Meredith said she loved after Derek's death, but with McWidow around, we can't help but think their relationship is approaching its end.

Izzie Stevens: 123 episodes (season 1-6)

Yes, the iconic Izzie Stevens only has one episode (at the moment) on DeLuca. There is much to be said about Izzie, who fell in love with a patient and cut his LVAD wire in order to steal a heart, only for said patient to die almost immediately after due to a stroke. She also had sex with a ghost of that patient — it was a symptom of a brain tumor — and was then fired after being slow on the job after beating cancer.

When Izzie left in season six, she left behind her job, friends, and husband, Alex. However, her ghost looms large over the show. The idea of her played a major role in season 16: Alex found out that Izzie used his sperm to have twins, which led to Alex leaving Seattle and moving in with her, so they could be a family.

Ben Warren: 133 episodes (season 6-present)

Warren has had more jobs than anyone: He started in season six as an anesthesiologist, then became a surgical intern and resident, and then decided that actually he wanted to be a firefighter, which he now is on "Grey's" spin-off "Station 19."

But through all that change, one thing has been constant: how much he loves his wife, Bailey. They have one of the most steady relationships on the show.

Mark Sloan: 143 episodes (season 2-9)

Fans heard about Mark before we saw him, but we were all wondering: How could he possibly have been better than Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd and led Addison to cheat?

The answer: Mark Sloan, aka McSteamy, was hilarious, sexy, charming, and definitely had that bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold thing going for him. He started off as a womanizing, shallow plastic surgeon who had no interest in teaching interns, but he ended his life (he also died due to complications from the plane crash) as a dedicated father, soulmate to Lexie, and had one of the most endearing mentor/mentee relationships with Jackson, aka "The Plastics Posse."

Derek even forgave him for sleeping with his wife, and they resumed their friendship.

Maggie Pierce: 146 episodes (season 10-present)

Fans were a bit fatigued when they found out that Meredith had yet another half-sister, but Maggie, the latest cardio surgeon to grace the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial, has edged her way into our hearts.

If we ignore how annoying she was about Meredith and Riggs, and her weird relationship with her step-brother Jackson, we can focus on how sweet she is with her birth father Richard, and what a good sister she's been to both Meredith and Amelia.

Amelia Shepherd: 151 episodes (season 7-present)

Speaking of sisters, Amelia was first introduced on "Private Practice" as one of Derek's four sisters, a fellow neurosurgeon who was addicted to painkillers.

Throughout her time on "Grey's," Amelia has married and divorced Owen, been diagnosed with a giant tumor, given birth to a son with Link, and has grown into the strong woman Derek knew she could be.

Jo Karev (née Wilson): 191 episodes (season 9-present)

Jo was introduced in season nine as part of the class of interns, but she quickly became the only one we cared about as we learned about her experiences with homelessness, how she was abandoned at a fire station by her birth mom, and her abusive ex-husband Paul. Gradually, she and Alex fell in love and got married — only for Alex to leave her in season 16 due to his twins with Izzie.

In season 17, we're sure to see Jo, a newly promoted attending general surgeon, experiment with dating again.

April Kepner: 202 episodes (season 6-14)

April was part of the new class of residents that joined the show in season six after Seattle Grace merged with another hospital, Mercy West. For a long time, all we knew about her was that she had a giant crush on Derek and that she was a virgin.

But over time, she grew into a formidable trauma surgeon, and she fell in love with and got married to Jackson. When they tragically lost their baby due to a genetic disorder, April enlisted in the Army, which led to the dissolution of their marriage, though they'd go on to have a daughter together, Harriet.

April left the show in season 14 when she reconnected with Matthew, the paramedic she left at the altar. After he lost his wife and she went through a near-death experience, they got married and she left the hospital to focus on charity work.

Cristina Yang: 229 episodes (season 1-10)

This loss still hurts. Cristina stood by Meredith's side for 10 seasons as her "Twisted Sister," her person, and her best friend. But along the way, she also became the show's best character. She became a more empathetic doctor, was easily the best surgeon of the original class, and never compromised on her ideals — namely, that she didn't want to have children.

Little girls everywhere saw a hero in Cristina Yang, and she went out on top: After realizing that she could never win a Harper Avery, surgery's most prestigious award, at Grey Sloan Memorial, she accepted an offer from her ex-fiancé (who left her at the altar) to take over an entire state-of-the-art hospital in Switzerland.

Though she hasn't been seen since, Meredith still frequently mentions her, texts her, and calls her, keeping the Twisted Sister spirit alive.

Arizona Robbins: 226 episodes (season 5-14)

When Arizona was introduced in season five as a potential love interest for Callie, she was also shown using her Heelies to skate around the hospital — she was the sunniest pediatric surgeon the halls of Seattle Grace had ever seen.

Though she and Callie went through their ups and downs (Arizona moving to Africa, Callie having a baby with Mark, Arizona getting her leg amputated due to the plane crash and then cheating on Callie to deal with it, having an extremely painful divorce and child custody hearing), there is still hope for the two of them, as Arizona was last seen moving to New York City (where Callie lives) and exchanging flirty texts with her ex-wife.

Callie Torres: 243 episodes (season 2-12)

Callie Torres (formerly Callie O'Malley), was the first new main character to be introduced on the show when she popped up in season two as an ortho resident with a crush on George.

Although that relationship was clearly not going to work, Callie remained on the show for 11 seasons, developing close friendships with everyone at the hospital and discovering that she was bisexual, before she moved to New York City with Penny in season 12.

Derek Shepherd: 258 episodes (season 1-11, 17)

It's almost impossible to comprehend that it's been half a decade since Derek saved an entire family from a car crash only to get rammed into by a truck. While he knows exactly what needs to be done to save him, other doctors do not, and he dies.

Derek was Meredith's other half for the entire show up to that point, her soulmate, and one of the two central love stories of the show (the other being Meredith and Cristina). Through it all, he was there by her side.

And while we thought we'd never see McDreamy again, he popped up at the end of the season 17 premiere, giving every "Grey's" fan a heart attack.

Jackson Avery: 258 episodes (season 6-present)

Jackson and April were the only two doctors left from the Mercy West merger (the rest of their class was killed in the hospital shooting) — and now, it's just Jackson, whose mom owns the hospital.

Jackson, a plastic surgeon, has been a bit adrift since his ex-wife, April, left the show. He was dating his step-sister Maggie for awhile, then moved on to Vic from "Station 19," and most recently was being propositioned by Jo.

Owen Hunt: 285 episodes (season 5-present)

Has there been a more polarizing long-running character than our very first trauma surgeon Owen Hunt? When Owen first arrived, he was a cool Army doctor who pulled an icicle out of Cristina. But when he returned, he was a haunted man struggling with PTSD.

Although he got through it, his relationship with Cristina turned toxic, as he accused her of killing their baby when she got an abortion (she had always been very clear she didn't want kids), and then he cheated on her to get back at him. Then he threw himself into a relationship with Amelia (which also didn't work), and now is engaged to Teddy, although she cheated on him, so it's unclear what's next for Owen.

Alex Karev: 358 episodes (season 1-16)

Alex started off as the show's token villain. But over the course of 16 seasons, fans watched him become one of, if not the best man on the show. He built one of the sweetest and most solid friendships on the show with Meredith (and another with Arizona) and finally got his happy ending with Jo.

Unfortunately, when Justin Chambers announced he was leaving "Grey"s after 16 seasons, making Meredith the only original intern left, fans were broken hearted — and not everyone could believe he was getting back together with a woman who left him with just a note.

Miranda Bailey: 365 episodes (season 1-present)

The pilot of "Grey's Anatomy" begins with our five interns, Meredith, Cristina, Alex, George, and Izzie, learning that their resident (their boss) is someone called "The Nazi." Unfortunate nicknames aside, Miranda Bailey has been with viewers throughout all 16 seasons as the wise, compassionate, and extremely skilled boss of all of our favorite characters. We'd all be lucky to have a Bailey in our lives.

Richard Webber: 365 episodes (season 1-present)

Webber was the first chief of surgery on "Grey's," a title that has changed hands relatively frequently (Burke, Derek, Owen, Alex, and Bailey have all been chief at one point), but it has always fit the best on Webber. We've watched him deal with his alcoholism, the death of his wife, a new relationship with Catherine, and become a father figure to Meredith, Maggie, and Jackson.

Now, he's back as the "Chief of Chiefs" after Catherine demoted Koracick, so season 17 is putting him back where he belongs.

Meredith Grey: 365 episodes (seasons 1-present)

Of course, the woman who started it all, the titular Grey of "Grey's Anatomy." The show's creator Shonda Rhimes has said that the show will end whenever Ellen Pompeo has decided she's done playing Meredith, and it makes sense: There is no show without her holding it together.

Meredith has gone through more than anyone should have to: Her mother and father are dead, her sister Lexie is dead, her husband Derek is dead, her close friends George and Mark are dead, her best friends (Callie, Alex, Izzie, and most importantly Cristina) have left, she's been attacked by a patient, and she's almost lost her medical license.

It's been 365 episodes — an episode for every day of the year – and we're still not tired of watching Meredith's life.

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