For nearly two decades, Grey’s Anatomy has blessed us with some of the most iconic, swoon-worthy TV romances out there. But not every relationship on this show can be as great as MerDer or or Slexie. Other memorable pairings on the show run the gamut from annoying to straight-up toxic. So, to help you avoid some seriously cringeworthy moments in your latest rewatch, I've taken it upon myself to compile a list of the worst Grey's Anatomy couples ever so you don’t need to bother shipping them.
With 17 seasons and a constantly-evolving cast, it can be hard to keep track of all the romances that have blossomed in the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial. However, the least successful of them tend to share common characteristics. In some cases, characters were thrown together because they seemed like a good match on paper, but onscreen, they totally lacked chemistry. And in others, misaligned priorities, lying, and infidelity led to destructive, dragged-out relationships that seemed to never end.
Before we get into the garbage fires that are these Grey’s Anatomy couplings, let’s lay some ground rules: First, this list only includes couples who had legit relationships, not just a few messy hook-ups. And! I’ve picked these awful couples based on how healthy and successful their relationship was, not how much each dynamic contributed to larger Grey’s Anatomy drama and storylines. So without further ado, let’s get into it:
1. Amelia Shepherd and Owen Hunt
Amelia and Owen initially bonded over their immense shared trauma, and that’s an incredibly shaky foundation for a relationship. From starting a foster family to getting divorced to a paternity scare, their romance ended up being one of the biggest emotional rollercoasters in Grey’s history... and no, that’s not a compliment. When the writers retconned their messy relationship by blaming it on Amelia’s long-term brain tumor, their already-annoying romance became truly unbearable.
2. Cristina Yang and Owen Hunt
Yes, Cristina and Owen were a major Grey’s couple for a very long time, and yes, they had plenty of steamy chemistry. But they were never on the same page in regard to what they wanted out of life, particularly in terms of having children: Owen screaming at Cristina for getting an abortion was trash, and their on-again, off-again relationship got exhausting. I for one am thrilled that this surgical queen is now thriving far, far away in Zurich.
3. Teddy Altman and Owen Hunt
Teddy and Owen are way better as friends, and adding drama like the Teddy/Tom affair in an attempt to make their relationship interesting is seriously not working. Also, you may have noticed this is the third Owen pairing on this list, so to be transparent: I am very over Owen! Stop giving a guy who attempts to change women and pressure them into maternal roles all of these romantic options, OK?
4. George O’Malley and Izzie Stevens
George and Izzie had such a sweet friendship for the first few seasons of Grey’s Anatomy that when they attempted to get together (while George was married to Callie!), it literally felt like watching siblings date. Yikes! Sometimes male and female characters can just stay friends, Grey’s writers.
5. Jackson Avery and Maggie Pierce
Jackson and Maggie are great characters separately, but the romantic chemistry between them was never really there. It’s also hard to get past the fact that they’re literally step-siblings now that Jackson’s mom Catherine and Maggie’s biological dad Richard are married.
6. Alex Karev and Ava (AKA Rebecca Pope)
There’s a time and a place for juicy, forbidden doctor-patient relationships, but Alex and Ava’s romance was not it. She didn’t know who she was for most of their time together and he only got involved because he saved her during the ferry explosion, so any chances of a lasting relationship between them was doomed from the start.
7. Meredith Grey and Nathan Riggs
Riggs nagged Grey’s Anatomy’s titular main character for a relationship only a year after she lost her soulmate, then dumped her for his ex-girlfriend after just a few hook-ups, so yes! I’m furious. It felt like the Grey’s writers were trying to give Mere a post-Derek love interest too fast; neither she nor Riggs were over their respective lost loves.
8. George O’Malley and Callie Torres
I’ll admit that George and Callie’s relationship was cute in the very beginning, and Callie O’Malley is incredibly fun to say. But this relationship was just off. They got married way too fast, and Callie had to deal with rudeness from George’s friends and help him grieve his father. In return, he cheated on her with Izzie. It was a mess!
Grey’s Anatomy — and all its messy relationship drama — airs Thursdays on ABC.