There was no way of knowing what sort of journey viewers were in for when Addison (Kate Walsh) initially entered Seattle Grace Hospital just as the credits rolled on the Grey’s Anatomy Season 1 finale. She identified herself as “Addison Shepherd,” also known as Patrick Dempsey’s (Patrick Dempsey) estranged wife, and she seemed to just cause trouble. But it was impossible to predict how big of an influence she would ultimately have on the programme. She was more than just a hindrance to the relationship between Derek and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), and she was unquestionably more than simply Derek’s wife. She was a capable, powerful, and complex character who could hold her own. Even though she departed Grey’s Anatomy as a series regular in the third season of the drama, Addison’s influence on the programme has persisted, and without her, it wouldn’t be what it is now.
It took some persuasion to get Addison to join the Seattle Grace team. She and Derek were no longer together (he referred to her as Satan!) and she had a full life in New York. Even though she mostly agreed to remain in an effort to rescue her marriage to Derek, Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) was determined to keep her around and succeeded in doing so. While that may have been her original job, she immediately demonstrated that there was much more to her than simply the ring on her finger that made her Mrs. Shepherd, which would bode trouble for both Meredith and Derek if she became a regular.
In addition to being a fantastic surgeon (and one of the best neonatal surgeons in the nation), Addison also had a lot of heart, which added a lot to her persona. Even though it seemed hopeless and she was aware that Derek had feelings for Meredith, she tried valiantly to save her marriage. She gave her patients her whole attention and gave them everything she had. And she was a fantastic role model for those close to her, especially Alex Karev (Justin Chambers). Without her, Alex would have probably continued to be his arrogant, icy self, with little sympathy for people around him. As a form of punishment, she had him work for her, but he really learned to respect it and, due to her, discovered true love.
Due to this, she was given the opportunity to star in her own spin-off, Private Practise, in which she moved to Los Angeles and accepted a job offer from her friend Naomi (Audra McDonald) to work in her practice. Private Practise, one of Shonda Rhimes’ greatest TV programmes and a deserving spin-off revealed even more of Addison’s hidden characteristics and let viewers get to know her better. They discovered that she was far more vulnerable and broken than she ever let on. Her development into herself and putting her puzzle pieces together was lovely. She eventually took over the practice and, after having trouble becoming pregnant, gave birth to Henry through adoption. One of the most significant and moving aspects of the programme and her character was her infertility troubles, and we followed her as she persevered through the challenges of IVF, adoption, and everything in between until things finally fell into place for her. This plot developed into one of the most moving ones, and since it connected with so many people, it significantly improved the show’s storytelling.
However, another storyline—Amelia’s (Caterina Scorsone) struggle with addiction—was crucial. Since she was a little girl and saw her father killed, Amelia had been classified as the Shepherd siblings’ most impulsive. After joining the practice and taking a position in the surgical path there, she tragically relapsed during Private Practice’s run despite having been sober for some time. The medical staff banded together to support her and arrange an intervention, with Addison leading the charge because she still thinks of Amelia as a younger sibling despite their divorce from Derek. It’s a difficult stretch of episodes to watch, but watching Amelia triumph made it all worthwhile, and the connection she and Addison developed is still one of the show’s nicest relationships.
More contemporary topics have been addressed in Grey’s Anatomy’s most recent seasons, like covid-19 and most recently, abortion bans. The second of the two has Addison appearing as a guest on the show more frequently. Prior to Season 18, Addison had last appeared in the musical episode of Season 8, thus it had been around ten years since her last visit. Despite this, it seemed as though she had never gone.
In Season 18, she initially makes a reappearance at Grey Sloan by developing a study on uterine transplants. We were able to see her response to Derek’s passing and her first interactions with his and Meredith’s children at this time. It was a rather low-key storyline for her, but it demonstrated her continued career brilliance and allowed her sensitive side to reemerge when she discussed how severely the epidemic had affected her.
With Addison working on the front lines and advocating for women’s reproductive rights, Grey’s Anatomy is continuing its exploration of contemporary problems in the current season. She discloses that while working to assist women in finding legal and ethical abortion care, she has experienced threats, stalking, and doxxing. One of her most endearing qualities is likely the fact that she never quits up. She will defend herself and her patients because she is tenacious and a warrior.
Even though she only sometimes visits Grey-Sloan Memorial, her influence and legacy are well-established there, and there is something to be said about that. She continues to be prominent and one of Grey’s Anatomy’s most important characters more than 15 years after making her last appearance as a key character.