Credit: ABC

Grey’s Anatomy has a notoriously big cast, but there are clear fan favorites within the medical drama. While the remaining original doctors — Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), Alex Karev (Justin Chambers), Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), and Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) — will always be at the top of everyone’s lists, some favor newer cast members, including Mercy West transplants.

It seems like eons ago that Seattle Grace merged with Mercy West, especially since it has since been renamed Grey Sloan Memorial post-plane crash. But thinking back, having a slew of random new doctors infiltrate the hospital didn’t sit well with longtime fans. In spite of Jackson Avery’s good looks and charms and April Kepner’s sweet, yet grating, personality, they felt like intruders to many. These days, they’re two fan favorites — and a will-they-won’t-they shipper nightmare — and are the only remaining docs from the merger. (R.I.P., everyone that perished in the tragic Season 6 shooting.)

With that being said, the new crop of interns — all of whom were upped to series regulars except Tina Majorino, whose character Heather Brooks died in the Season 10 premiere — admittedly didn’t sit well with fans when they first arrived in Season 9. Since they were nothing like the interns we met in the Season 1 pilot and Bailey wasn’t using persona as “The Nazi” to teach them, they seemed like outsiders who were distracting from the main plot (and in turn, the OG docs). They fumbled along throughout the season, some of them intermingling in relationships (Stephanie with Jackson, Alex and Jo), but they didn’t start to really stand out until this season.

In Season 10’s five episodes thus far, the interns have finally started having real storylines that aren’t just them competing against one another for a surgery or arguing with the attendings. After Heather died trying to save Richard, they realized they didn’t know each other at all, and though at first it seemed like nothing could bring them together, it did — just in an unconventional way. In recent episodes, we’ve seen Stephanie fumble trying to impress boyfriend Jackson’s hard-to-crack mother Catherine, Leah potentially engage in a relationship with newly-separated Arizona, Shane force Webber to use a feeding tube (in turn saving his life), and Jo work with Alex to try to save his estranged father and their relationship. Though none of these are Grey’s Anatomy levels of drama, Shonda Rhimes is easing us into liking them, and slowly but surely it’s starting to work.

Now that we’re beginning to warm up to the interns — who could very well be the next generation of Grey’s Anatomy stars when the original doctors leave, starting with Sandra Oh — it’s time to evaluate who could be the breakout star. While Jo has had the most screentime and the most compelling relationship with Karev, seeing Stephanie stand on her own, Shane put his foot down with Webber, and Leah potentially pulling a Meredith and sleeping with her boss soon, any of them could take the lead in fan favorite polls. Who do you think has the biggest potential? Vote below, then share your reasoning in the comments below.

Grey’s Anatomy airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.


Alyse Whitney is Assistant Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.