9 Grey’s Anatomy Characters Still Alive From Season 1

ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy will begin its 19th season later in 2022, also completing 400 episodes this year. Protagonist Meredith Grey has seen many people come and go in her life, ranging from husband Derek Shepherd, her mother Ellis, sister Lexie, and plenty more. 

A lot of the original characters like George and Derek have passed away since the first season, leaving it somewhat unclear how many remain from when the show first started. While others have also left, they weren’t killed off and still exist in the Grey’s Anatomy universe. These primarily include prominent main and recurring characters that appeared in Season 1.

Olivia’ was a nurse whose role in the first season was to show just how much George was pining for Meredith, because he wasn’t truly interested in Olivia. By the next season, she factored into the breakup of Izzie and Alex when she again had an affair with the latter. 

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Later seasons showed Olivia in a minor light, with the notable exception of her involvement in the nurse group that slept with Mark Sloan and held a grudge against him. Olivia was fired during the hospital’s merger with Mercy West and returned for one episode years later, where it was revealed she’d moved to Sacramento, gotten married, and now had a son.

Alex started out as a competent doctor but a huge jerk, who eventually became Izzie’s love interest in a romance few Grey’s Anatomy fans saw coming. His role in the debut season was to serve as George’s rival, coming up with the “007” name to mock him.

Alex grew into a valuable friend of Meredith’s over the next decade, briefly becoming her “person” and marrying former intern Jo. His exit came about in a controversial fashion when he divorced Jo offscreen to run back to Izzie, following which Alex never returned to the hospital and now lives on a farm with Izzie and their two children.

From the start, Izzie was considered by many to be the best Grey’s Anatomy character in the first season, although that perception has changed since then. In Season 1, Izzie was shown as a nervous doctor who wanted to put her sketchy past behind and had to deal with jerks like Alex who put her down.

She eventually started to stand up for herself and became good friends with the group, with later seasons focusing on her relationship with Alex. Following the removal of her cancer, Izzie had a huge bust-up with Alex and divorced him offscreen. She was confirmed to be alive a decade later when Alex discreetly reconciled with her.

Addison became an instant fan favorite, becoming the star of Private Practice a couple of years after she first arrived. She only had a guest appearance in the first season, but it remains one of the most shocking moments in Grey’s Anatomy history. As it turned out, she was the wife of Derek Shepherd he’d never told Meredith about.

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Addison appeared to be catty at first, but she was just confused over whether she truly loved either Derek, Mark Sloan, or neither. Her eventual move across the country bore fruit as she ultimately married once and had a son. Addison recently returned to Grey’s Anatomy to become one of its longest-surviving characters.

Bailey is a character who gets better and better in Grey’s Anatomy as the seasons pass. She was a new resident when the series started, taking on the role of a mentor for the interns, and was learning how to be a leader herself. Bailey has since gone through a divorce and a turbulent career to reach a more stable point in her life.

In recent times, she’s become a high-ranking hospital member and is married to former doctor-now-firefighter Ben Warren. Bailey’s role remains as a spiritual mentor but she’s now seen as a peer to Meredith and the remaining doctors because of how long they’ve been in each other’s company.

Many fans believe Cristina’s quotes on Grey’s Anatomy are words to live by because of how confident she was in herself and her abilities. Her role in Season 1 was to foster a great friendship with Meredith and was the best intern in her group, being extremely competitive and unapologetic about it.

Cristina and Meredith were the two main protagonists of Grey’s Anatomy for a decade until she left to run her own hospital in Europe. She’s since been acknowledged offscreen as remaining in contact with Meredith and her career continues to flourish as she wanted.

Burke was known as a well-spoken, ambitious doctor who became involved with Cristina soon after the latter joined the hospital. His inability to be fully invested in their relationship and the pair’s similar but unhealthy personalities made their dynamic interesting to follow.

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In the next couple of seasons, Burke and Cristina got to the point of getting married until he called it off because he realized she didn’t love him. Burke returned nearly a decade later, revealed to be in Zurich and married with children. He handed over his hospital to Cristina so he could move to Milan with his family, bringing closure to himself and Cristina over their relationship.

Richard was introduced as the chief of the hospital whom Meredith resented for having had an affair with her mother, Ellis, during his younger years. Richard’s role in the first season was to try and fix his failing marriage, Meredith’s presence in his life, and his still-lingering feelings for Ellis.

He’s since lost both his wife and Ellis, eventually marrying Catherine Avery, to go along with remaining a the hospital despite getting older. Richard’s other issues like alcoholism and estrangements with Meredith and Bailey have made him a flawed but constantly developing character.

As the protagonist of the show, Meredith has been the main focus of the storylines for nearly two decades. Season 1 showed her beginning a relationship with Derek, dealing with her mother's Alzheimer's, and navigating around the hospital as an intern.

Meredith has since married and lost Derek, become a mother, won the most prestigious award for a doctor, and made peace with formerly estranged people like her father, Richard, Lexie, and even Addison. She’s still a work-in-progress as new challenges constantly come into her life, but Meredith is certainly a survivor in more ways than one.

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