In Grey’s Anatomy’s world, most characters are known to have had difficult upbringings or at least several traumatic experiences in their lives before they joined the show. Despite this, Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital has hosted some of the best surgeons in the country and, to this day, viewers don’t get tired of all the drama that goes on in this medical tv-show.

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Fans know that every episode is constantly handing out major life lessons. Some of them are only possible to exist because of these doctors’ past scarring ordeals that they had to go through, which, in turn, have allowed them to grow into more complex and relatable characters in the present moment.

10 Maggie Pierce

In season 10, everyone was taken aback when it was revealed that Maggie was the long-lost daughter of Richard and Ellis. After that bombshell was dropped, most fans initially forgot about the backstory that Maggie had shared. However, if fans take a closer look at what she told Richard, there was a tragic element to it.

Maggie had revealed that she had wanted to learn who her biological mother was, which implies that she might have wanted to get to know her. Unfortunately, by this time, Ellis had passed away, which meant that she possibly never got the chance to get the answers that she sought. Since Richard wasn’t even aware of her existence at the time (which is tragic just by itself), he wouldn’t have been able to answer any personal questions either. Nevertheless, Maggie has found a lot of comfort in the memories and facts Richard and Meredith provide her.

9 Meredith Grey

Meredith Grey in Grey's Anatomy

It’s no secret that Meredith’s rough childhood due to the fact she had been caught in the middle of her parents’ marital woes. When Meredith was five, Thatcher had left Ellis after she told him of her affair. After they moved to Boston, the viewers then learned that Thatcher hadn’t spoken to Meredith in twenty years.

Meredith’s relationship with her mother didn’t improve much either. Although Meredith’s similarities with Ellis were remarkable on a physical level, the latter always struggled to find the perfect balance between her career and family life. With Ellis spending most of her time at the hospital, Meredith spent most of her childhood being babysat by other hospital workers. Luckily, Meredith managed to get some closure on both relationships before they died.

8 Atticus Lincoln

Atticus Lincoln in Grey's Anatomy

Having any life-threatening disease like cancer, and especially as a child, must be a tragic experience for anyone to go through. At the age of ten, it was revealed that Link had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma on his femur. Although it was diagnosed at a late stage, Link eventually made a full recovery.

Unfortunately, there was another reason why Link finds it difficult to talk about his past. Similar to Meredith, Link was seen to get caught up in his parents’ divorce. After they had announced they were splitting up, Link revealed that they would often use him as a pawn and force him to choose sides (which made him feel like a mediator). Link has always promised that his relationship with his children wouldn’t be the same.

7 Tom Koracick

Tom Koracick in Grey's Anatomy

The most prominent attending neurosurgeon in the show has come a long way since the audience first met him. Tom was mysterious about his personal life and always acted as a layered individual. Therefore, it wasn’t until much later that viewers understood where some of his reservations tragically came from. Koracick revealed that he had lost his son in an accident, some years ago.

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Soon after, the couple divorced, but the grief he still carries clearly has turned him into a remorseful and cynical person. The brilliant surgeon, who has been disliked by many because of his arrogant ways, did gain a lot more sympathy from fans once they saw how much his losses have affected him.

6 Owen Hunt

Initially, Owen’s tough exterior has often made him look insensitive or even uncaring about others. However, the viewers soon changed their opinion on the former Chief of Surgery when several episodes showed that Owen had severe trauma from his experiences at war. While his veteran years did affect his mental health, many fans were quite proud to see him seek professional help.

5 Cormac Hayes

Cormac Hayes in Grey's Anatomy

These days, the resident cast is different than it was just a few seasons ago. One of the newest additions to the show was Dr. Hayes. Coming in as a “package” for Meredith through Yang’s Swiss venture, Cormac has been an extremely likable character almost since his entrance on the show.

But the pediatric doctor has had his fair of pain in his personal life. Anyone who has lost a wife, and especially a mother of two boys, like he did, deserves compassion. Cormac was left to raise his teenagers alone and it is obvious that, to this day, he still lives with the grief of his wife’s tragic death.

4 Nathan Riggs

Nathan Riggs in Grey's Anatomy

It’s the hardest pill to swallow when anyone loses a child, a loved one, or a parent. People usually go through the heartbreak period until, over time, the acceptance that their person is gone becomes bearable.

But is there a bigger torment than to know that your partner may still be alive yet you have no idea where is they are or if they are OK? That’s the tragedy that poor Nathan had to deal with for several years. Megan’s disappearance was devastating for Nathan and her brother Owen.

3 Amelia Shepherd

Amelia is a character who, undeniably, has been through a lot of hardships. From an early age, Derek’s baby sister has been battle-hardened by tragic experiences. When she was only five years old, she and Derek had witnessed their father get killed in a failed robbery attempt.

Amelia ended up carrying this trauma with her into her teen years, where she began using drugs and alcohol to escape her pain. She also dealt with two other shattering losses: her unborn baby, who had been diagnosed with anencephaly, and her baby’s father.

However, as fans know, Amelia has grown so much since her teen years and is in recovery. With Link’s support and her new family, viewers hope that Amelia’s newfound attitude will give her the personal stability she deserves.

2 Alex Karev

By the time Alex left Grey’s Anatomy, he had solidified himself as one of the show’s fan favorites. However, it did take fans a while to warm up to him. When fans first met Alex, he was cold to everyone he met. No one really understood why until season 6 delved more into his past and revealed that he had some unresolved issues with his father.

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After his father walked out on their family when he was a child, Alex felt that he had to start looking after his siblings and his mother, who was living with schizophrenia. For years, Alex was seen to hold a deep resentment towards his father for making him take on a parental role he was not ready for. However, by the time Jimmy died, Alex had been granted the closure he needed.

1 Jo Wilson

Dr. Wilson’s awful past gave her the winning spot on this list. But if there’s one thing fans are proud of, it is how well she is managing to reconcile with what happened to her. Her story is almost unbelievable but it proves just how strong she is. The traumatic experiences started as soon as she was born when her mother abandoned her outside a firehouse, 5 days after giving birth. And if that wasn’t tragic enough, Jo later found out that she was conceived as a result of rape.

Jo was also seen to have a tough upbringing when she revealed that she had lived in numerous foster and started living independently in her car at the age of 16. Although it taking her some time to come to terms with her past, after seeking professional help, Jo seems to finally be living her best chapter yet.

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