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It's dead, just like my husband. That's the thing about having a dead husband. You don't care about anything else.
— Teddy Altman

Theodora 'Teddy' Altman is an old friend of Owen Hunt from the military and former Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital. She was married to Henry Burton until his death. Owen fired Teddy from Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital so she could pursue her dream and take a job at MEDCOM

History Edit

Military Service Edit

Teddy joined the army as a surgeon following 9/11 and the death of her best friend. In the army, Teddy worked closely with Owen Hunt. They soon became best friends.

Arrival at the Hospital Edit

Owen Hunt convinced Teddy to come work in Seattle, saying it was a great hospital with a great staff and equipment. At first, Teddy was surprised by all the equipment, compared to the equipment she had back in Iraq. She was also very pleased with the fact that it rained a lot in Seattle, as it almost never rains in the desert, where she previously worked.

Soon after her arrival, she met Cristina Yang, whom she called one of the best residents she had ever seen. It didn't take her long to find out that Owen brought her to Seattle to please his girlfriend, who hadn't have a cardiogod since Erica Hahn left the hospital. However, Teddy wasn't mad about it and said she would just enjoy the things Owen would do to make it up to her. Cristina didn't believe in Teddy's skills, as she wasn't able to insert a pacing wire.

Confessing her Feelings towards Owen Edit

While in Iraq, Teddy and Owen were best friends. They both shared mutual affection for each other, however Owen was still with his fiancée, Beth. Once arriving at Seattle Grace, Teddy confessed to Owen that she loves him, but she understands and knows he is with Cristina now. Teddy never knew how Owen felt about her and Owen never knew about Teddy's feelings. In the wake of confessing her feelings, Teddy and Owen's friendship became strained.

Marriage to Henry Edit

Henry was a patient with the rare genetic condition Von Hippel-Lindau disease, who could no longer afford to pay for his medical care. Teddy married him so that he could use her health insurance, and only came to appreciate the gravity of this decision when Henry suffered a near fatal complication of his illness. Teddy discovered that he had listed her as his emergency contact and she was forced to make a life-or-death decision regarding his care, not as his doctor but as his wife. Though the newlyweds both maintained that theirs was a simple marriage of convenience, and Teddy continued to date other men, Henry later confessed that he had feelings for Teddy. She told him she did not feel the same way. When Andrew Perkins returned and asked Teddy to move to Germany with him, she accepted, and agreed to divorce Henry. However, in the aftermath of a plane crash shortly after making that decision, Teddy changed her mind and told Henry that she was falling in love with him. The two began their married life properly, but not long into their wedded bliss, Henry died, leaving Teddy distraught.

Henry's Death Edit

After Henry died, Teddy was not aware until after she finished her surgery on her patient. Cristina was the one to tell her in the scrub room and she broke down crying. She sat and cried next to Henry in the OR where he died. In her grieving process, she called Cristina in during her surgeries and made her tell her the exact story of Henry's surgery. This went on for about two weeks. She later went to a support group for widows to help her cope with his death, only to laugh at one of the other widows for saying her husband had "minor congestive heart failure" because according to Teddy, there is no such thing and he was lucky to survive as long as he did. Finally, she was able to say the words "I am a widow." Later, she talks more about Henry's death, telling Owen during surgery that she does not want to leave Seattle Grace because the south elevator was the place she met Henry, the cafeteria will always be the place he bought her lunch, and the OR they were in will always be the one Henry died in.

Departure from the Hospital Edit

While Teddy was helping out Bailey and Callie with their patient, Owen told her that someone called him to ask if she was going to take the Chief job at MEDCOM, about which he didn't know anything. She told him that she planned to tell him about the job offer, and he was bummed that he now has to look for a new Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery, on top of all other surgeons who were leaving Seattle. She then told him that she was not taking the job, but just hadn't had time to tell MEDCOM yet. Later in surgery, he wanted to know why she said no to the offer, especially because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. He asked her about her loyalty to her country. She then told him that she'd love to leave the hospital, as it kept reminding her of her deceased husband. "I would love to leave here, and never look back. But you are as broken and beaten as I have ever seen you," she said, silencing him. "And after everything I've put you through, the tolerance and kindess and friendship that you have shown me, I am not going to leave you, because of my loyalty. I am not going to leave here for MEDCOM or anywhere else," she told him, after which she continued operating.

Owen later approached her, saying that he now knew why she tried so hard to keep Cristina in Seattle. "If Cristina were staying, you'd be taking that job," he said. She stayed silent, and he assured her he'd be fine. She told him he wouldn't be, as he was losing the love of his life. Owen then opened up to her and said that he already missed Cristina, while she hadn't even left yet. "I wish I could tell you that that will go away, but it wont," she said, before walking away again. He later asked her to come to a conference room to talk. While she was saying she was happy to stay as it'd be like them back in Iraq again, he suddenly said that she was fired. She laughed, thinking he was joking, but she realized it was serious when he told her it was "effective and immediately".


Teddy hugs Owen one last time before leaving the hospital.

"Now, I know you have other opportunities, so if you need to make those phone calls..." he began, but she told him that he couldn't tell her when to go and when to stay. "I don't want you here anymore!" he yelled, continuing that she had to have seen it coming for months as she had been disruptive in the OR and hostile and insubordinate towards him in front of staff and students. "We're past all of that," she still tried to talk him out of his decision. "We are, because you're fired," he told her once again. "It's a done deal, pack your stuff," he said. She then angrily left the room while scolding him. Moments later, she came back in, crying. She realized that being fired by Owen was the only way he could make her do what she really wanted to do: taking the job at MEDCOM. She hugged him tightly, urging him to fight for Cristina. "You go, and be great," he told her, while hugging her too. ("Flight")

Relationships Edit

Romantic Edit

Mark Sloan Edit

Dr. Sloan asked Teddy out, but she initially declined. Eventually, she accepted and they had dated briefly. After finding Reed Adamson in Mark's bed, Teddy ended things.

Henry Burton Edit

Henry was a patient who had Von Hippel-Lindau disease (making tumors grow in areas with rich blood supply) and could no longer afford treatment because his insurance capped out. Teddy met Henry in an elevator in the hospital, where Henry asked her if he would have a chance when he asked his girlfriend to marry him. Teddy told him his girlfriend would be a fool to say no. She later bumped into him again, and he informed her his girlfriend said no. He then revealed that he primarily asked her because of her insurance. Teddy then offered to marry him, as she had a great insurance as a surgeon.

After their marriage, Henry listed Teddy as his emergency contact person, because he didn't have any friends or family left. Henry developed real feelings for Teddy, but he decided not to tell her. She started dating, and they discussed her dates over the food she always brought home for him. However, when Teddy started a relationship with Andrew Perkins for the second time, Henry couldn't keep his feeling still anymore. He told her how he felt, which made her doubt about her relationship with Andrew. Right before she would leave for Germany with Perkins, she choose Henry over Andrew and kissed Henry.

Henry told Teddy that he wanted to go to medical school, but Teddy didn't want him to go. When Teddy went home that night, she trie to make up with Henry, but found him coughing up blood. Henry had a tumor on his lung and needed surgery. When Cristina and Richard opened him up, they found that there was no chance of saving Henry and he started to code. Webber stepped in to do CPR, but after 20 minutes, it was a lost cause so he stopped and Henry died. Webber told Owen not to tell Teddy as she was in surgery, and then they would lose another patient, so Owen told Teddy that Henry survived. Finally, after the surgery, Cristina told her that her husband was dead. Teddy demanded to see him and then broke down in tears.

Andrew Perkins Edit

Andrew and Teddy began a relationship after the shooting at Seattle Grace Mercy West. Andrew was the main trauma counselor who had to approve and clear each surgeon for surgery. Teddy and Andrew met in the cafeteria and dated for a few weeks before he had to move onto his next case. Teddy was very upset by this, but eventually moved on. Eventually, Andrew returned to Seattle, but in the meantime, Teddy had married Henry. Andrew was offered a permanent position in Germany and asked Teddy to go with him. She initially accepted and they were all set to go. However, she had second thoughts about her relationship with Henry and chose to stay.

Friendships Edit

Owen Hunt Edit

Owen and Teddy met while they both were army surgeons. Owen brought her to Seattle Grace Mercy West as a present for Cristina, claiming her to be a "cardio goddess", and Teddy later worked out that Owen brought her as a present for his girlfriend, appearing more surprised by the fact Cristina was his girlfriend. She later would admit that she believed that if Owen broke up with his fiancée, Beth, he would have called her.

Arizona Robbins Edit

One day, Arizona took Teddy aside and told her that they should be friends. Teddy and Arizona shared a special friendship. When Mark asked Teddy out, she confided in Arizona, who suggested that Mark was like candy: eat it and forget about it. When things sparked between Mark and Teddy, Arizona was the one she confided in. Arizona supported Teddy when she had things going on between her and Andrew.

When Callie became pregnant and asked Arizona to be in, Arizona went to Teddy for advice on whether or not to be in.

Arizona arranged ladies night for her after Henry died.

Callie Torres Edit

Callie and Teddy had a special friendship, but Callie was trying to put her into a more legit relationship with Mark. 

Miranda Bailey Edit

Professional Edit

Cristina Yang Edit

Initially excited at the prospect of a new cardio attending, Cristina was disappointed when she learned that Teddy had not inserted a pacing wire for about 10 years and began to question Teddy's skills as a surgeon.

However she became very impressed by Dr. Altman soon after Teddy diagnosed a child with cardiac asthma after only a brief exam and asking three questions, and when she opened him up, she discovered he had a coronary artery to pulmonary artery fistula, which she repaired surgically and allowed Cristina to first assist, which meant allowing her to attach the coronary artery to the aorta. Following his removal from bypass, the patient went into V-Fib and started bleeding from the repair site. Dr. Altman remained extremely calm and talked Cristina through resolving the rhythm and repairing the site without rearresting the heart.

Over the course of their time together, Teddy and Cristina developed a deep sense of respect for each other as colleagues, despite the slight tension between them caused by Owen. Teddy, who grew to appreciate Cristina's skills and persistence, almost regularly had Cristina on her service.

They once performed an appendectomy together, during which both of them forgot what to do halfway through the surgery.

Cristina tells Meredith and Alex that Teddy is, 'The love of my life' because they get along so well.

When Teddy's husband, Henry, came to the ER while vomiting blood, he had to undergo laparoscopic surgery and Teddy believed only Cristina could perform the surgery like herself. Cristina was kept in the dark about the identity of the patient and she performed the surgery. At one point in the surgery, there was too much bleeding, and Dr. Webber suggested they open him up. After they opened him up, Cristina saw there was too much damage to the aorta, and realized she couldn't do anything to save him. Dr. Webber continued to do compressions even after Henry's heart stopped. Cristina was then told by Owen about who the patient was and she broke down crying in the scrub room.

Not long after that, she was forced to enter the OR where Teddy was operating to assist in that surgery. Teddy was unaware that Henry had died. After the surgery was complete, Cristina had April close while she took Teddy into the scrub room and told her that Henry had died.

For two weeks after Henry's death, Teddy questioned Cristina over and over again about what exactly happened in the surgery. 

Career Edit

Dr. Altman attended University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, completing her surgical residency at George Washington University Medical Center and her fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Florida.

Working previously at Columbia (presumably Columbia University Medical Center) as a board certified attending surgeon, Dr. Altman left her job following the death of her best friend, who was killed during the collapse of the second tower. Upon leaving her job, Dr. Altman joined the army and met Owen Hunt during her tour in Baghdad.

When her tour of duty was over, Owen recommended her as the new interim Head of cardiothoracic surgery at Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital. Then-Chief Webber initially offered her at temporary contract, but became part of the permanent staff when Dr. Shepherd, as the new chief of surgery, extended her offer with a new contract.

As chief of cardiothoracic surgery, Dr. Altman mentored Cristina Yang for the last three years of Yang's residency and began research on a stem cell regenerative heart medicine project. It was this research that drew the US Army Medical Command's attention toward Dr. Altman, eventually offering her the position as their chief of staff.

After Chief Hunt fires her, she leaves the hospital and accepts the position at MEDCOM.

Notes and Trivia Edit

  • Teddy has birds on her scrub cap. Owen revealed that Teddy's best friend loved birds and died during the collapse of the second world trade tower.
  • Teddy had plans to leave the hospital every season she appeared in, finally leaving at the end of season 8.
    • In season 6, she almost left because she couldn't handle that Owen wasn't in love with her.
    • In season 7, she was planning on moving to Germany with Andrew Perkins, but stayed because Henry told her he was in love with her and she was starting to fall in love with him too.
    • In the season 8 finale, she was offered a job in the army, but refused to take it because she wanted to stay in Seattle to support Owen, as he was having a hard time. However, Owen didn't want her to miss the opportunity just because of him, and forced himself to fire her. After she was fired, Teddy was angry at first but relieved later, and she took the job, leaving Seattle Grace Mercy West.
  • Though she was part of the main cast from season 6 to season 8, season 7 is the only season in which she appears in every single episode. She first appeared in mid-season 6 and was only mentioned in the season 8 alternate reality episode If/Then.
  • After her departure, Teddy was only mentioned once again in season ten, but this was in an alternate universe.
  • Teddy is one of the very few main cast members not to have been a patient of another doctor on screen.
  • Although the cardiothoracic surgery department has had more different department heads than any other department over the course of the entire series, Teddy is the only head of cardiothoracic surgery to have been fired. It should be noted though that she wasn't fired for not doing her job right.
  • Teddy was unable to complete an appendectomy without Nurse Linda reminding her of the remaining steps of the procedure.
  • Out of all the season six main cast members at the time, Teddy is the only one who hasn't seen Gary Clark when he wandered around the hospital shooting people.
  • Teddy loves dogs (especially puppies).
  • She hates the word moist. She really prefer that people say damp.
  • She also hates helicopters.
  • Teddy decided to go to medical school when she was 19.
  • Although incorrect, Teddy's SGMW ID badge states her department is cardiology. It also does not mention her F.A.C.S. title.

Notable Episodes Edit

These episode are Teddy-centric or are otherwise very informative about her life.

  • New History
  • Suicide is Painless
  • Something's Gotta Give
  • Suddenly
  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight
  • Flight

Memorable Quotes Edit

  • Teddy: You have to go back to the beginning to understand the end.

Appearances Edit

Grey's Anatomy, Season 6
New History · Holidaze · Blink · I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked · State of Love and Trust · Valentine's Day Massacre · Perfect Little Accident · Push ·Suicide is Painless · Sympathy for the Parents · Hook, Line and Sinner · How Insensitive · Shiny Happy People · Sanctuary · Death and All His Friends
Grey's Anatomy, Season 7
With You I'm Born Again · Shock to the System · Superfreak · Can't Fight Biology · Almost Grown · These Arms of Mine · That's Me Trying · Something's Gotta Give ·Slow Night, So Long · Adrift and at Peace · Disarm · Start Me Up · Don't Deceive Me (Please Don't Go) · P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) · Golden Hour · Not Responsible ·This is How We Do It · Song Beneath the Song · It's a Long Way Back · White Wedding · I Will Survive · Unaccompanied Minor
Grey's Anatomy, Season 8
Free Falling · She's Gone · Take the Lead · What is It About Men · Love, Loss and Legacy · Poker Face · Put Me In, Coach · Heart-Shaped Box · Dark Was the Night ·Suddenly · This Magic Moment · Hope for the Hopeless · All You Need is Love · Have You Seen Me Lately? · If Only You Were Lonely · One Step Too Far · The Lion Sleeps Tonight · Support System · The Girl with No Name · Moment of Truth · Let the Bad Times Roll · Migration · Flight