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Life Lessons to be Learned from the Characters of Grey’s Anatomy

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Clemson chapter.

Grey’s Anatomy has been a hit television show for 14 years now.  The show’s success can be accredited to a number of factors, such as the likable cast and intriguing storylines.  But behind all of the pretty faces and dramatic cases in the ER, there are underlying, crucial life lessons taught by each character through each experience Shonda Rhimes brings his/her way.

1. Meredith Grey

Meredith, as the main character of the show, has been through a lot, to say the least.  She has undoubtedly endured more loss in her life than any of the other characters, such as the death of her mother, sister, and the love of her life.  Yet, she continues on with her life each time, while becoming a Harper Avery award-winning surgeon and a mother of three children. Her character embodies the epitome of resilience.  

2. Alex Karev

Alex embodies growth.  At the beginning of the series, he was known as the “evil spawn” among the other characters due to his condescending attitude and persona of a womanizer.  He was said to have barely made it into the residency program at the hospital. Yet, he not only made it through his residency but became one of the strongest surgeons in pediatrics, which is one of the most competitive specialties.  Not only did his character grow in this aspect, but the audience also saw immense growth in his character. He softens up as the show goes on, and becomes one of the most tender and likable characters.

3. Miranda Bailey

When I think of Dr. Bailey, I think girl power. She is so persistent in pursuit of what sets her soul on fire and stops at nothing to get what she wants and deserves.  Her surgery skills are unparalleled, and she becomes the first female Chief of Surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.

4. Richard Webber

Dr. Webber gives so much wisdom to every character in the show that it is extremely difficult to pick one life-lesson that embodies his character.  One that stood out to me was that it’s never too late to make things right. He finds out he has a biological daughter when she is thirty years old, and still makes an effort to be part of her life, despite the shame and guilt he feels in his heart for not being there for her beforehand.   

5. Derek Shepherd

Derek teaches the audience to reach for the stars.  He’s constantly trying new procedures that have little to no survival rate and often succeeds.  He does not like to rest on his morals and is passionate about advancing his career and relationships and, ultimately, saving lives.  

6. Callie Torres

Callie is not afraid to be herself.  If something makes her happy, she does it, end of story.  This is evident when she marries a woman despite the beliefs of her parents and moves to the other side of the country for love.  

7. April Kepner

April has one of the strongest work ethics in the show.  She’s typically overlooked because she’s not Harper Avery-award-winning Meredith Grey or plastic surgery prodigy Jackson Avery.  Yet, she always comes to work with the right attitude and proves people wrong. She develops into a strong trauma surgeon despite failing her boards the first time and is a loving mother to her daughter, Harriet.  

8. Jo Wilson

Jo is one of the bravest television characters I have ever seen.  She gets away from her abusive husband and changes her name, all to follow her dream of being a surgeon.  She also came from a terribly troubled upbringing where she lived in her car. Despite all of the hardship in her young life, she overcomes life’s obstacles to become chief resident and Dr. Meredith Grey’s right-hand resident, as well as learn to love again in her relationship with Alex.  

9. George O’Malley

From George, I learned that failing an exam is not the end of the world.  He failed his intern exam and got right back on the horse. Yes, he had to do his intern year twice, but he persevered and was able to continue his residency.  

10. Maggie Pierce

Maggie taught me to not be ashamed of my successes and to own the person I am.  She was always so much younger than anyone she went to school with and ended up being the youngest cardio chief at Grey Sloan, but she always embraced it.  

Hannah Fanset

Clemson '21

Hi, Everyone! I'm Hannah Fanset. I'm a sophomore from Rochester, NY, and I'm majoring in psychology and management. My favorite things are books, movies, traveling, eating good food and laughing way too loud.