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Denny Duquette, the best love interest in 'Grey's Anatomy' history

An Honest Ranking Of The Best Grey's Anatomy Love Interests

It's a beautiful day to get romantic.

ABC

Grey’s Anatomy is known for many things: intense medical drama, ride-or-die friendships, and shocking twists. But what keeps many viewers invested season after season are the intense, passionate relationships that define a Shonda Rhimes show. Fan-favorite main characters like Meredith, Christina, and Alex all find multiple deep connections as they go from interns to residents and beyond — but let’s be real, some of these Grey’s Anatomy love interests are far more interesting than others.

It’s not easy looking for love in the turbulent Shondaland universe, where your “person” could be taken in a second by a gunman or a plane crash. But even though many of their relationships are brief, or don’t end in a happily ever after, the journey is most of the fun. The will-they-won’t-they tension that comes with the arrival of a new intern or a visiting specialist makes each love interest feel unique and important to the main characters.

To decide once and for all who the best romantic scene-stealers are, here’s a definitive ranking of 15 Grey’s Anatomy love interests, from steamy to heart-wrenching and everything in between.

15

Penny Blake

Don’t be turned off by Penny’s inclusion on this list; she’s at the bottom for a reason. Most viewers feel complicated about Penny, or they just downright hate her, because she didn’t get a CT for Derek’s head injuries, ultimately leading to his passing. Although the reveal of Penny’s actions was a huge blow for fans, her relationship with Callie was very sweet watching Callie process her grief over both Derek and her divorce from Arizona with love and support from Penny was really cathartic. Penny deserves a spot on this list as a necessary evil, causing trauma and havoc, but also helping Callie and Meredith work through their issues.

14

Erica Hahn

ABC

Like Penny, Erica helped Callie process her divorce — this time from George — but she gets a higher ranking than Penny for helping Callie start on the journey to explore her sexuality. Erica showed Callie what it means to experience romantic love with a woman for the first time, and this opened an important door for Callie’s development, eventually leading to one of the best romances in Grey’s Anatomy history: Callie and Arizona.

13

Kyle Diaz

Kyle was one of the best kinds of characters: a heartthrob patient who helps a main character relax and enjoy themself. He was fun and very sweet (see: showing up at the hospital to take Stephanie on a date) but the relationship quickly soured as his condition worsened and he refused her care in the ER, landing him pretty low on this list.

12

Kai Bartley

Kai quickly became a fan-favorite not only for their musical talents but also for their swoon-worthy flirtations with Amelia Shephard. As the show’s first out non-binary character, Kai is already breaking boundaries and will probably soon deserve a much higher rank on this list.

11

Andrew DeLuca

ABC

OK, here come the tears. Through it all, Andrew always fought for Meredith and for what was right, even when it landed him in bad places. He may not have been the perfect partner for Meredith, but their brief love story gave viewers one of the most iconic goodbye scenes in Grey’s history. When Andrew thanked Meredith and ran into his mother’s arms in that cathartic beach scene, it set a new romantic standard for the show.

10

Nick Marsh

Like Andrew once did, Nick plays an important role in Meredith’s life. He’s a great colleague but also an incredibly caring person — being sure to make Mere feel special whenever he can. In Season 18, Meredith introduced him to Amelia and her kids, so Nick may soon deserve a higher spot on this list.

09

Atticus Lincoln

Link, like many doctors at Grey Sloan, has gotten around the hospital a bit, so just to be clear, he’s in the top 10 because of his love for Amelia. Despite their tumultuous relationship, Link always met Amelia with love and was honest about what he wanted and needed in a relationship. He also gets extra points for being a doting father to Scout.

08

Tom Koracick

The shared mani-pedi moment Tom and Teddy had in Season 15 is pure endgame material in the hearts of fans everywhere. Unfortunately, Tom often came second to Owen (see: building a crib alone while Owen supports Teddy through birth), but he kept sticking around and loving Teddy through it all. Even though they didn’t end up together, Tom’s love for Teddy is still some of the most elite romance in Grey’s history.

07

Matthew Taylor

ABC

It may surprise you that Matthew is so high on this ranking, but without him, Jackson and April’s storyline would be incredibly different and April wouldn’t have had to grow and reassess her values. Matthew was always sweet and truthfully suffered a lot through loving April, but he never gave up on her. Plus, he’s a paramedic, and that’s gotta count for something.

06

Nathan Riggs

Meredith and Nathan’s enemies-to-lovers storyline alone is enough to put Nathan pretty high up in this ranking, even though neither of them were ready for a relationship. Although Nathan ended up with Megan, he and Mere had some of the show’s steamiest and most romantic moments. Their relationship also ended on a super sweet note with Meredith encouraging him to follow Megan to California — and honestly, that is a much better ending than most Grey’s relationships.

05

Nico Kim

Although Nico can’t exactly be called the best boyfriend, he gets this high rank for making history with Levi as the first gay couple to have a main storyline. Levi and Nico worked through a lot of shame and trauma together, and although they weren’t meant for each other in the long run, Nico made Levi feel very seen and loved, which makes him one of Grey’s best love interests.

04

Preston Burke

Sure, Preston was a bossy, occasionally narcissistic surgeon, but he had a major sweet spot for Cristina. Their obsession with one another set the tone for all Grey’s relationships to come — not to mention how monumental it was for the show to center a romance between an Asian woman and a Black man. The eventual ending of their relationship tore viewers’ hearts out, but that dramatic reunion in Switzerland and Burke’s decision to give Cristina his job makes him one of the most epic love interests in Grey’s history.

03

Winston Ndugu

ABC

Although their relationship has had its bumps, Maggie and Winston’s love story is one of the calmest Grey’s has to offer. Winston’s undying love for Maggie and patience with her need for time and strong boundaries is beautiful to watch. To top it all off, they basically had two weddings, and one was on a beach — it doesn’t get much better than that.

02

Ben Warren

Miranda is one of the most beloved Grey’s characters for perfectly balancing her tough work attitude with her immense care for her friends and patients. Watching Miranda fall in love with Ben easily makes him one of the best love interests in Grey’s history. Ben is always willing to put Miranda and their kids first, despite how it may impact his career. It also doesn’t hurt his cause that he now gets to wear a firefighter uniform on Station 19.

01

Denny Duquette Jr.

Denny was the first love interest to steal the hearts of viewers and honestly, his grip hasn’t really loosened, even over 15 seasons later. As if the impact of his love for Izzie and his tragic demise weren’t enough, the lasting legacy he leaves with the Denny Duquette Memorial Clinic cements him as one of the most iconic characters. It’s the simple things too: his cute little smile, constant resilience, and tender care for Izzie make him the number one best love interest in Grey’s history.

These 15 love interests have made a mark on each character and on the Grey’s audience. Through them, Grey’s Anatomy has made the blueprint for the best romance and the biggest heartbreaks on TV. Despite all the ups and downs, love has prevailed — or at least created enough on-call hookup scenes to fill a whole episode.