‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 20 Needs to Kill Off Teddy

The Big Picture

  • Grey’s Anatomy needs to kill off Teddy Altman to keep the show interesting and raise the stakes.
  • Teddy’s character has become stagnant in recent seasons, with confusing and irrational behavior.
  • The show’s history of killing off beloved characters is what keeps it interesting, and killing Teddy would be a fitting send-off.

If there’s one thing that Grey’s Anatomy does well, it’s killing off a fan-favorite. Since the show’s dramatic debut in 2005, veteran showrunner Shonda Rhimes has not been afraid to take beloved doctors off the board with all sorts of disturbing and devastating deaths. Between rogue buses, rogue airplanes, and rogue gunmen, for a long while it seemed like nobody within the walls of Seattle Grace — now Grey Sloan Memorial — was safe. However, in recent years the show has brought multiple characters back from the brink of death with barely any consequences, and now it seems like these doctors are straight-up indestructible.

Our latest surgeon in peril came in the Season 19 finale when long-time cardio queen Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) spent the episode with an annoying but seemingly innocuous toothache until she collapsed in the operating room and went into cardiac arrest. The episode ended with her horrified husband Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) fruitlessly trying to revive her, with her fate hanging in the balance until the Season 20 premiere. While it would be a heartbreaking blow to the Grey Sloan family, particularly her husband and two children, if she were to die so unexpectedly, killing Teddy is a necessary evil if Grey’s Anatomy wants to keep raising the stakes.

Greys Anatomy TV Show Poster

Grey’s Anatomy

A drama centered on the personal and professional lives of five surgical interns and their supervisors.

Release Date
March 27, 2005

Main Genre



When Did Teddy Join ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?

In Season 6, Episode 9, Major Teddy Altman joined the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, an Iraq war veteran and friend of Owen Hunt’s, specializing in performing cardiothoracic surgery and pissing off Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh). Teddy is immediately mystifying: one minute she’s elbow-deep in a guy’s chest with blood dripping down her neck, and the next, twirling and giggling in a rainstorm (hey, she was in the desert for a long time, okay?)

Over the next few seasons, Teddy became a great addition to the Grey’s Anatomy team, forming close bonds with other surgeons like Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) and Callie Torres (Sara Ramírez). While her bubbly demeanor (and loaded friendship with Owen) frustrates Cristina, the two become a dynamite cardio duo. Teddy also wears her heart on her sleeve and not-so-fondly dubs herself “Attachment Barbie” because of her tendency to fall hard and fast for unavailable men, including Owen. One of Teddy’s romantic pursuits, however, provided another classic Grey’s Anatomy tragedy when patient Henry Burton (Scott Foley) arrived on the scene in Season 7, Episode 10.

Teddy and Henry’s Great ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Love Story

Kim Raver as Teddy clapping with other surgeons in Grey's Anatomy
Image via ABC

Henry arrives at Seattle Grace Mercy West seeking treatment for a rare genetic condition, and Teddy soon learns that he is struggling to pay for his treatments. Later in the same episode, after failing to convince the hospital to treat Henry for free, Attachment Barbie lives up to her nickname and offers to marry Henry so that he can use her medical insurance to pay for his operations. The bold move showcases Teddy’s capacity for kindness and empathy, and her resolve to do the right thing. Once she and Henry are legally married, the two start to fall in love and eventually become another great love story until he tragically dies on Cristina’s operating table in Grey’s Anatomy Season 8.

Henry’s death devastates Teddy, and it’s further complicated by the fact that Owen (at the time the Chief of Surgery) lies to her and tells her that Henry had survived his operation because Teddy herself was operating at the time of his death. Her marriage to Henry was arguably Teddy’s most compelling storyline on Grey’s Anatomy, and there wasn’t really another Teddy-centric storyline until Season 16 when she’s married to Owen, has two children with him, and reveals that the first great love of her life was actually her best friend Allison (Sherri Saum) who died in 9/11. Teddy’s Allison storyline provided an extra layer of depth to her character, as it taught us more about what she’d been through and how much grief she’d already had to endure. However, when she finally told Owen about it, he used it as an excuse to frame her as deceptive, which…wasn’t great.

‘Grey’s Anatomy Doesn’t Know What to Do With Teddy

Kim Raver as Teddy being held by Kevin McKidd as Owen in Grey's Anatomy
Image via ABC

Even though Teddy’s had a lot of interesting storylines on Grey’s Anatomy, and she’s now the wife and mother she wants to be with Owen, for the past few seasons it’s been pretty obvious that Grey’s isn’t sure what to do with her. In Season 16, Teddy had a whole cheating scandal with Tom Koracick (Greg Germann) while she was engaged, literally butt-dialing Owen on their wedding day while having sex with Tom. This whole story framed Teddy in a horrible light and made us feel bad for Owen, who’s usually the one flaunting his questionable behavior.

Later in Season 17, when Grey’s Anatomy dove headfirst into the chaos of COVID, Teddy is tasked with trying to cure Meredith, pushing her to her emotional limits with virtually no support system. She then becomes totally despondent after failing to save Andrew Deluca (Giacomo Gianniotti), having hallucinations of him around the hospital right before she becomes catatonic for a few days. Cut to Season 18 and Teddy’s helping Owen illegally administer life-ending drugs to dying soldiers, then going on the run as a fugitive once the secret gets out. Now she’s Chief of Surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial, which is great for her, but it wasn’t a promotion we were rooting for (unlike when Bailey (Chandra Wilson) was made Chief) and it just seemed like something they could do for Teddy to keep her story fresh. The bottom line is that while Teddy was always a great character on Grey’s, for the past few years it seems like they’re running out of ideas for her, and so her behavior just keeps getting more confusing and irrational.

Killing Off Teddy Would Keep ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Interesting

Now that Teddy is officially flat lining, this, unfortunately, means that it’s time for her to go. In recent seasons, multiple doctors on Grey’s Anatomy have survived crazy odds, like when April Kepner (Sarah Drew) survived her car wreck and ensuing hypothermia, and then Owen survived his car wreck, in which he fell off of the side of a mountain in an SUV and then pretty much just needed some gentle physical therapy. Teflon Meredith Grey has been surviving crazy situations for years now, so COVID not killing her wasn’t a big shock, but her ability to withstand bombs, shootings, and drownings (oh my!) is getting predictable.

While it’s always heartbreaking to lose a beloved cast member, it used to be what kept Grey’s interesting, because you never knew when Shonda Rhimes was going to flip a switch and snatch away another favorite character (Killing both parties of the show’s best romance in a plane crash? Diabolical.) Now that they’ve set up another near-death experience with Teddy, if they don’t actually kill her it not only feels like a cheap way to get us to tune into the Season 20 premiere, but it also just means that Grey’s Anatomy has no stakes anymore. While Kim Raver is set to appear in Season 20, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Teddy is safe. As sad as it would be to lose Teddy in such a sudden and tragic way, it would be better than letting her character get stale and fade into oblivion. Let’s give Dr. Altman the dramatic, Grey’s-style send-off that she’s earned after all these years.

All seasons of Grey’s Anatomy is now available to watch on Netflix in the U.S.

Watch on Netflix

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