vulture lists

Every Friendship on Grey’s Anatomy, Ranked From Worst to Best

Meredith and Cristina forever! Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC

When you think the legacy of Grey’s Anatomy, now at 13 seasons and counting, a few standout details come to mind: the sheer number of characters who were killed off, the phrases like “you’re my person” and “vajayjay,” the time Izzie had ghost sex, and, of course, the epic romance between Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd. Equally important, however, is the epic friendship between Meredith and Cristina Yang.

In fact, when you start to look at Grey’s as a whole, you’ll quickly realize it’s rife with memorable friends — and, yes, a lot of pretty terrible ones. Ahead of the show’s mid-season premiere, Vulture ranked all of the friendships forged in the halls of Grey Sloan, from worst to best.

A note: If you don’t see a certain pairing, it’s because they were deemed more of a romance (Mer and Der were never friends), a mentorship (Bailey loves Alex, but they’d never hang), or a sibling relationship (Derek and Lexie were cute, but he was a big brother first). Let’s get to the rankings!

51. Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) and Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington)
Poor, sweet, dumb DeLuca. After trying to be chivalrous by helping a very drunk, very sad Jo, he would up getting his face pummeled — and she did basically nothing to help the situation. Yet! DeLuca still wants to be friends with this trainwreck of a human being. DeLuca, you in danger, girl.

50. Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) and Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd)
Should Teddy and Owen even be on this list? Sure, they claimed they were friends over and over again, but someone was always having The Feelings. Because of The Feelings, they were always pretty terrible to one another. I mean, trying to get your friend fired to save your marriage? Not very friendly.

49. The Replacement Interns: Jo, Stephanie (Jerrika Hinton), Leah, Shane (Gaius Charles), and Heather (Tina Majorino)
These guys clearly disliked each other, but still, for some reason, continued to eat lunch together. They never bonded like the original five, plus they were pretty mean to Heather. (Who could be mean to the girl from Andre?) It was very rude. Leah is mostly to blame, but none of them are innocent.

48. April Kepner (Sarah Drew) and Dr. Stark (Peter MacNicol)
This got real creepy, real fast. Also, Dr. Stark was super-mean all the time. April wasted her talent for unlikely friendships on this dude.

47. Jo Wilson and Stephanie Edwards
Ugh, Stephanie deserves so much better than Jo. Case in point: While Steph was grieving her loss of Wilmer Valderrama, Jo just got drunk and cried over her deteriorating relationship with Alex. Even worse: Jo recognized that she was being a terrible friend, but continued to be extremely terrible. Stephanie is Cristina 2.0 and she deserves a Meredith. Get this girl a proper person already, would ya?

46. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Tequila
This is a one-sided, parasitic friendship and Tequila should stand up for itself, but damn if those two don’t have fun together.

45. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) and Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington)
Did these guys ever actually like each other? They were the top two surgeons at Seattle Grace for a hot minute, and they loved a pair of complicated best friends. Most of their interactions reeked of competition. In short, there needed to be more hugging to make this friendship believable. Doctor’s orders!

44. George O’Malley (T.R. Knight) and Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh)
Two dorks obsessed with getting Meredith to like them at one time or another, these two seemed poised to be BFFs. Alas, Lexie had to go and get a big crush on the guy and ruin everything. Even she admitted that she was a terrible friend to George, completely cutting him out of her life once he spurned her romantic feelings. George deserved better — that dude jumps in front of buses for strangers!

43. April Kepner and Reed Adamson (Nora Zehetner)
Why? Also, how? I know, I know. This friendship ends in the most horrible way imaginable. But seriously, in what world would Terrible Reed and Farm Girl April ever be best friends? The show attempted to explain it — Reed looked genuinely sad when she turned in April for forgetting to check that mom’s airway after a big fire — but still, no.

42. Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary) and Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone)
One of the many pairings brought together by Meredith, but it seems as though Maggie might be the one person at Grey Sloan who genuinely enjoys Amelia’s presence. Yes, I’m including Owen in that group.

41. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and April Kepner
The only thing that held this relationship together was Cristina applauding April’s turn as the Runaway Bride.

40. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) and Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams)
These two have come a long way since the days of Jackson slugging Alex for being a top-notch jerk to April. Now, they seem to be friends because they’re the last two dudes from their residency group. I doubt they would be friends if they didn’t work together, but every guy needs another guy’s shoulder to cry on sometimes.

39. Meredith Grey and Maggie Pierce
Meredith hasn’t been friends with all of her sisters. We know how she feels about Amelia, while her relationship with dear, departed Lexie always seemed to stay in the big sister–little sister lane, Meredith and Maggie genuinely seem to enjoy each other and would probably still be buds without the Ellis Grey (Kate Burton) connection. Unfortunately, this easy bond makes the fact that Meredith has been lying to Maggie about hooking up with Riggs much, much worse.

38. Derek Shepherd and Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.)
Oof, talk about a rocky relationship. They did care about each other, but showed it in less-than-great ways. For example: When Derek found out Webber was drinking and operating, he went to Webber’s office and poured him a big glass of scotch. I get the sentiment … but really, Derek?

37. Derek Shepherd and Owen Hunt
Compared to Preston Burke, Derek and Owen bonding over their Twisted Sisters was much more believable. They were never BFFs, but Derek did let Owen live in his trailer. That’s much further than Burke ever got with the guy.

36. George O’Malley and Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl)
Serious question: Have there ever been another pair like George and Izzie? They were so charming and lovely as friends, but had absolutely zero chemistry once they hooked up. It was rough stuff after that and they never fully recovered.

35. Meredith Grey and Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez)
A slow-burn friendship forged the moment Callie covered for Meredith when Lady Grey left her unmentionables on the floor of the hospital. They weren’t best buds, but their bond was strong enough to survive Callie dating the woman who didn’t exactly kill Derek, per se, but certainly didn’t help the situation.

34. Maggie Pierce and Alex Karev
If ever there were a friendship that needed more airtime, it’s this one. Maggie and Alex only hang out because of Meredith, but their carpool banter is delightful.

33. April Kepner and Nathan Riggs (Martin Henderson)
Bless Grey’s for never going there with April and Riggs, which the show could’ve easily done after they spent time together overseas. Keeping them as friends worked well for both parties: Riggs had an easy ally when he arrived in hostile territory at Grey Sloan, and April had someone who really understood what she went through. Riggs has since branched out, but we should get back to this relationship. It’s a weird dynamic and I’m into it.

32. Cristina Yang and George O’Malley
It never felt like Cristina respected George all that much, but they did share a lovely, tear-jerking moment when she welcomed him to the dead dad’s club. Also, George’s death hit Cristina pretty hard.

31. Owen Hunt and Nathan Riggs
So much drama with these two! Their will-they, won’t-they friendship arc is one of the most compelling of the 13th season. I, for one, am counting down the days until they take each other in their big, burly arms and hug it out. Mainly for the big, burly arms, but also for the healing.

30. Meredith Grey and George O’Malley
It’s a credit to Ellen Pompeo and T.R. Knight that after Mer and George had disastrous sex, I still believed they could be friends. Like, I can still hear Meredith crying in bed, so it really is some kind of acting feat.

29. The New Residents: Jo, Stephanie, Ben (Jason George), and Penny (Samantha Sloyan)
Definitely an upgrade, mainly thanks to Ben being openly exasperated with his gal pals. Also, being able to make Penny the least bit tolerable says a lot about this group’s chemistry.

28. Teddy Altman and Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw)
This was great because Arizona saw Sad Teddy pining away for Owen and forced her to be friends. Arizona also forced Teddy into dating Mark (Eric Dane) for a second, which really was a blessing to us all. Those two were hot! Teddy didn’t stick around long enough for this friendship to go the distance, but it is my hope that these gals still stay in touch via a series of emails entitled “The T&A Letters.”

27. Callie Torres and Derek Shepherd
This friendship was based two things: work and Mark Sloan. Who can forget Callie and Derek flanking Mark’s bedside as he lay dying? No one, that’s who. Afterward, it was as if they felt they owed it to Mark to keep up their relationship. At its best, Callie was working around the clock to fix Derek’s hand post–plane crash while he reminded her that she was that good. As its worst, Derek ditched his and Callie’s miracle prosthetic program to go work for the president. I know he’s the president and all, but what would Mark think?

26. April Kepner and Arizona Robbins
A friendship that’s born while inebriated in a supply closet is a friendship that lasts. Arguably the two perkiest docs at Grey Sloan, April and Arizona’s bond made sense and seemed easy. That’s what made it extra difficult to watch their brief falling out during April’s second pregnancy. The gals seem fine these days, and we are all the better for it.

25. The Original Interns: Meredith, Cristina, George, Izzie, and Alex
If these guys didn’t work well as a group, we wouldn’t be here getting ready to finish up season 13. It’s true, Alex had never really gelled with the group (he and George disliked each other to the very end), but the five did have each other’s back as a team. They stuck together after the LVAD wire cut heard ‘round the world. They were there when George’s dad died. They helped each other through hookups and true loves and surgical losses. Sometimes they treated each other horribly, sometimes not. But that time together as interns bonded them for life.

24. Jackson Avery and Meredith Grey
It’s surprising these two aren’t closer. They bonded initially over an understanding of what it’s like to become a surgeon while living under the shadow of such a well-recognized last name. As Meredith so indelicately puts it to the rest of the group, “You guys had mothers. We had surgeons who decided to procreate.” Although Catherine Avery (Debbie Allen) seems much more maternal than Ellis Grey ever was, the sentiment still rang true. The highlight of this underdeveloped friendship is the moment when Jackson is angsting over his mother’s hookup with Webber and Meredith consoles him by saying that the chief banged her mom, too. Mer is such a good friend!

23. Cristina Yang and Derek Shepherd
A friendship born out of circumstance. Cristina and Derek were the two most ambitious doctors to grace the hallways of Grey Sloan, and if you took Meredith out of the equation, I suspect they would’ve discovered that they had much more in common than they thought. Also, they went on a healing, post-shooting fishing trip together that one time. That was nice.

22. Jackson Avery and Charles Percy
They’re just two bros who rocked orange scrubs and tried to make a name for themselves in that crazy mixed-up merger. The ending to their story was very tragic, but their flame burns eternal.

21. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Arizona Robbins
You’d think Bailey doesn’t have any time for Arizona’s nonsense — and you’d mostly be right. But when nobody could get through to Arizona after she locked herself in her apartment with her leg prosthetic, it was Bailey who found a way to get her friend back on her feet and into the hospital again. That’s some serious sisterhood action.

20. Miranda Bailey and Callie Torres
Callie gave Bailey the name of a great waxer before her third date with Ben. Bailey officiated Callie’s wedding. Real friends!

19. Cristina Yang and Alex Karev
Cristina may have referred to Alex as “Evil Spawn,” but deep down, she loved him enough to give her board seat to the guy. Okay, she did it because Meredith told her to love him, but semantics.

18. Miranda Bailey and Meredith Grey
This one typically errs more on the side of mentorship, but saving a person’s life and having their baby named after you blurs that mentor-mentee line just a tad.

17. Callie Torres and Addison Montgomery
Give it up for the girls who became friends because they slept with the same guy, rather than in spite of it. Callie and Addison were a great match, and really gave Mark a run for his money (which he so desperately needed). Thinking about this friendship makes me sad, though: Why did Addison have to leave us for good? Man, she would’ve been all over Callie for dating someone as milquetoast as Penny Blake. If only.

16. Jackson Avery and Ben Warren
Jackson and Ben are low-key, but very adorable. Only a true friend would let a person crash on his couch for weeks at a time, even when it meant facing the wrath of Miranda Bailey.

15. Cristina Yang and Callie Torres
They lived together. They cried over breakups while eating cereal together. They went furniture shopping together. Remember when Callie let Cristina cut her hair? Oh, the memories! Never were there two more badass roommates than Cristina and Callie.

14. Meredith Grey and Izzie Stevens
Meredith Grey wouldn’t try on a poofy wedding dress for just anybody, people. These two quietly built a nice friendship over years of trauma. It couldn’t have been easy for Izzie to have been the third wheel in the Meredith-Cristina friendship extravaganza, but Izzie left her mark too. When she returned after leaving Alex, Meredith fought for her to stay and seemed genuinely sad when she refused.

13. Richard Webber and Arizona Robbins
A single lady in want of a wingman, and a trivia enthusiast looking to spice up his social life: Little did they know they would forge a lifelong friendship.

12. Jackson Avery and April Kepner
How you feel about #Japril aside, these two were buddies long before they realized they were in love. They navigated the new waters of Seattle Grace Mercy West together, and relied on one another while grieving the loss of their best friends. Even though we know they will end up together (THEY HAVE TO, RIGHT?), it’s easy to believe April and Jackson could maintain a friendship post-divorce. They always have each other’s backs. Okay, except for that time April ran off to a war zone and didn’t understand why Jackson might be upset about it, BUT I DIGRESS.

11. Cristina Yang and Izzie Stevens
Sure, Izzie decided to tell Cristina about her cancer because she thought Cristina was a robot, but the fervor with which Cristina fought to save Izzie’s life showed that she really had a beating heart underneath it all.

10. Alex Karev and Arizona Robbins
When Alex and Arizona first came into each other’s orbits, Arizona had it out for him because he once slept with Callie. These days, they might even give Bailey and Webber a run for Greatest Mentorship at Grey Sloan Memorial. Arizona should get a heck of a lot of credit for the maturation of Mr. Alex Karev. In turn, Alex is a loyal ally in both life and the quest to save all the tiny humans. Also, I bet he’s shocked that one of his closest friends once thought Heelys were acceptable surgeon footwear.

9. Jackson Avery and Mark Sloan
I almost kept these guys off the list, since their relationship seemed like a mentorship, not a friendship. Then I remembered how Mark stood up for Jackson with Jackson’s mother and how he responded after Lexie dumped the poor guy. Also, Jackson’s final good-bye to Mark makes me cry every single time I see it. The final piece of evidence supporting their inclusion: They had an actual name for their friendship. Plastics Posse for life!

8. April Kepner and Owen Hunt
Bless you, Owen Hunt. He took a sad little pig farmer and turned her into the badass trauma surgeon she is today. Owen always had such a soft spot for April, so much so that he made sure everyone in the hospital showed up to her wedding, so she would feel well-liked. Maybe this started out as a pity friendship, but Owen soon realized that only April could run his ER. He asked her to be his best man, for goodness sakes! Of course, she forgot the rings and then got sidetracked with the home birth from hell, but still — he trusted her above almost anyone else. Is it because they are both gingers? Possibly.

7. Miranda Bailey and Derek Shepherd
Were Bailey and Derek secret best friends? Looking back on their relationship, they were much closer than they ever got credit for. Need proof? Look no further than their mirrored elevator scenes. The first came in season two, after a particularly emotional case (two people were stuck on a pole, one had to die so the other could survive, you must remember). Bailey noticed Derek getting upset and stopped the elevator to let him have some time. Then in season six, after George died, Derek repaid the favor. These two cared about each other a lot. Can’t hide it from me!

6. Cristina Yang and Dr. Thomas
Whenever I’m feeling extra dark and twisty inside, I think of Dr. Thomas (William Daniels) and Cristina’s sweet friendship and everything feels right with the world again. I mean, the man brought her a danish! Also, there’s all that stuff about them growing as both doctors and people because they knew each other. It was short-lived, but it was special.

5. Derek Shepherd and Mark Sloan
If McDreamy and McSteamy could kiss and makeup after one had an affair with the other’s wife, well, I don’t know why all these other people can’t work out their differences.

4. Miranda Bailey and Richard Webber
It could be argued that this is more of a father-daughter relationship than a friendship, but we’ve all seen Bailey parent Webber enough times to know that they’re on equal footing with one another. (As opposed to Meredith and Webber, which is all father-daughter.) Neither is afraid to tell the other the cold, hard truth because they know it’s always coming from a place of love. Thanks be to Shonda that Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. have stayed aboard the S.S. Grey’s for so long, because it would be a shame not to see these two interact on a weekly basis.

3. Callie Torres and Mark Sloan
Oh, how I wanted these two to grow old and raise little Sofia together. Callie and Mark were super-hot every time they hooked up, but it was their real, unconditional friendship that made them unforgettable. Callie always believed that Mark was more than just a sex god, and Mark never hesitated to take care of Callie, even when that meant spooning to help soothe her chicken pox itching. Their friendship was magic and I miss it every day.

2. Meredith Grey and Alex Karev
Who would have thought? After 13 seasons, Meredith and Alex are the last two Original Interns standing. It’s especially wonderful when you remember that everyone hated Alex back in the olden days. Even Alex hated Alex! Remember that time he turned Meredith in for tampering with the Alzheimer’s trial and she didn’t talk to him? Those were dark times. Now, their enduring friendship has become the heart of the show. Meredith introduced Alex to hugging, Alex will defend Meredith’s honor at any and all times, and they continually remind one another that they are not turning into their less-than-stellar parents. Meredith and Cristina may be soulmates, but Meredith and Alex wouldn’t have survived years of drama and trauma without one another.

1. Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang
Was there ever a question about this? Mer and Cristina were each other’s person. They were the Twisted Sisters. Cristina used her parting words to remind Meredith that she, not Derek, is the sun. They might have loved their guys, but Meredith and Cristina were soulmates. They rescued one another more times and in more ways than anyone can count. They fought. They cuddled. They drank. They danced it out. Meredith and Cristina easily top the Grey’s Anatomy friendship list, but don’t forget that they’re also the show’s greatest love story.

Every Friendship on Grey’s Anatomy, Ranked