|“||The first time I saw you, you were at the OR board. You were talking with Pierce and she said something that made you laugh and I couldn't move. And then I had to wait for you to write your name on the board because I just needed to know who you were. So I don't have a good reason for you to like me, I didn't even try to like you, I didn't want to. And I certainly don't wanna have to think about you all the time, trying to come in early see your name on the board. Come up with that one thing that's gonna make you smile so your eyes do that thing they do. Anyway, that's why I joke so much and to keep from having to say anything like this. So I don't have a good reason, sorry I wish I did.||”|
— Nathan Riggs to Meredith Grey
Nathan Riggs is a cardiothoracic surgeon who worked with April Kepner during her time in Jordan. After bringing a patient to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, he got a job working there but eventually resigned when he moved to Malibu with Megan Hunt.
Nathan was born in New Zealand. At the age of 7, he moved to Seattle.
Meeting Owen and Megan
Owen and Nathan became doctors together, including their field training. They became like brothers, and Nathan really trusted him.  Through Owen, Nathan met Megan Hunt, with whom he fell in love. They started a relationship, but they both cheated on each other. While they were working as field surgeons in Iraq, Megan found out he had cheated and called her brother, who urged her to get away from Nathan as soon as possible.
That same day, Nathan and Megan needed to transport a patient from the field, but there was only room in the chopper for one of them. It was going to be an ugly ride through an unprotected airspace, so he wanted to go. Megan objected as she wanted to get away from Nathan and pointed out it was her patient. After a fight, he let her go as he would've done the same thing had the patient been his. The helicopter never arrived at its destination and disappeared without a trace. Megan's disappearance started the feud between Owen and Nathan, as Owen blamed him for it. After her disappearance, Nathan stayed around for a while to look for her, while Owen returned to Seattle soon after her disappearance.
Work with April and Coming to Seattle
While working with April, he and the other doctors called her "The Machine" because she worked through everything and made others want to work harder. Because of April, Nathan came to Seattle with Kamal Aboud, who needed surgery to remove tumors from his hands. Jackson initially refused and Nathan started calling around to find another surgeon. While doing so, he encountered Owen, who urged to him to leave. Since all other surgeons refused, Jackson decided to amputate, but changed his mind mid-procedure and saved Kamal's hands. At the end of the day, Nathan went to Joe's with April and Bailey, who wanted to hear war stories.
Feud with Owen
Following their night out, Bailey offered Nathan a job at the hospital. She neglected to consult with anyone before hiring Nathan, thus surprising Maggie and Owen to see him at work. At the end of his first day, he asked Meredith to go grab a drink together, but she declined, as she decided to hate Nathan because Owen did so. The news of the feud between Owen and Nathan spread quickly around the hospital, and rumors of possible causes soon followed. Nathan focused on his job and ignored Owen's constant attempts to thwart him. When Owen's mother showed up at the hospital for John, Nathan saw her and they hugged. Owen later told him to stay away from his family, to which Nathan responded he viewed Evelyn as his family, too. Owen then punched him and told him they were not his family. Afterwards, Nathan went to Joe's and bought Amelia a drink.
Owen continued to interfere with Nathan doing his job, even going as far as to throw him off a shared case. Nathan hung out with April at the bar and told her how he met Owen, and that he never hated him. However, when the patient was in distress, Owen specifically requested Nathan for help, and their colleagues witnessed how amazingly in sync they were able to work, anticipating each other's moves and knowing what to do without any conversation. While scrubbing out, the men began yelling at each other again. While working together with Meredith, she acted rather hostile when he tried to smoothen things with personal questions, but at the end of the day asked him about his deal with Owen. Since she only knew about Megan's helicopter disappearing, Nathan told her that he had wanted to board the chopper, but Megan insisted on going herself.
When Owen confronted him again about clashing opinions over a shared patient, Nathan flat-out told him to find someone else to hate in order to get over his guilt. He reminded Owen that while he stayed to look for Megan, Owen gave up and returned to Seattle. Not long after, Owen, Nathan, and Meredith got on an ambulance to retrieve a heart. Nathan learned that Amelia was an alcoholic and confessed he bought her a drink. Owen started to yell at him, but Meredith broke up the fight. Later that day, Owen told Nathan bad things happen around him, and he told Nathan he knew about the cheating. He told Nathan he couldn't come to the hospital and pretend to be a hero and fool everyone, as Owen would not let that happen. After Maggie became aware of the reason of Owen's severe disliking of Nathan, Nathan opened up to Maggie and told her that despite Owen telling everyone he's a liar, the only thing he did was leave pieces out of the story since he considered those to be just for him and Megan. He admitted to having made a big mistake, but he's paid for it ever since it happened.
The feud seemingly came to a truce on the day of Owen and Amelia's wedding. Since April, Owen's best man, ended up in the hospital, Nathan drove down to the church to give Owen the rings. Owen thanked him and invited him to stay for the ceremony.
Feelings for Meredith
When Meredith had a bad day, he confronted her about it in the parking lot, realizing it was all about Amelia and how she was living the life that Derek didn't get to live. They started arguing and she suddenly jumped him when he asked her what she wanted. They ended up having sex in her car, four times. When Nathan brought it up a few weeks later, Meredith stated she didn't want him to get too attached to her. He claimed he knew they were just friends who had sex, but during Owen and Amelia's wedding, he smilingly looked at her, indicating he started to feel more for her. After the wedding, Nathan continuously chased Meredith, hoping to be friends or something more, but she repeatedly rejected him due to knowing her sister, Maggie Pierce, would get hurt. However, after accidentally meeting up on a plane and getting closer, the two became a couple.
After Meredith told Nathan that Megan had been found and was being transported to Seattle, Nathan rushed to the hospital to be reunited with his long-lost fiancée. Nathan attempted to restart his relationship with Megan by re-proposing to her, but she turned him down because she believed that he was still in love with Meredith. Nathan subsequently tried to get back together with Meredith, but she told him to make a grand gesture to win Megan's affection because it's not every day that people gets a second chance with a lost loved one. Nathan traveled overseas and brought back Farouk, Megan's son, who was stuck in Iraq, proving his love for Megan. Nathan and Megan then got back together and moved to Malibu together, resulting in Nathan's resignation from Grey Sloan.
Split from Megan
In early 2021, Nathan and Megan split up after the sitting at home during the pandemic made them realize they were not happy together. As soon as they agreed to break up, Nathan signed back up with his NGO and he shipped out two days later.
When Nathan first came to the hospital with Kamal Aboud, he seemed like a very nice guy. He and April get along very well, and Kamal deeply cared about him. Owen, however, feels completely different about Nathan. He resents Nathan and doesn't even want to be near him. He passed on his hatred to Meredith, who began to notice that Nathan overstepped his boundaries and made rash decisions, like when he decided to pull a spike out of a man's chest. This is likely due to the fact that Nathan had been doing relief work in the Middle East for a long time, a place where he had to take initiative, and was not yet adjusted to the ways of a real world hospital.
Nathan was romantically involved with Megan Hunt, Owen's younger sister. One day, while working in a field unit, they had to transport a patient across unprotected airspace, with the chopper only having room for one of them. After some fighting, Nathan allowed Megan to step on board, as the patient was hers. The chopper, however, disappeared without a trace, which lead to Owen blaming him for her supposed death hence their current feud.
However, Owen revealed to Meredith that Nathan was never near the chopper with Megan. He revealed that Nathan cheated on Megan with another woman. Nathan later confirmed this when confronted by Maggie Pierce and said that everything he told Meredith was true; he just left out the part about the cheating because he considers it to be only for himself and Megan. He does not owe anyone an explanation of this, and Maggie agrees.
While Owen was taking care of baby Harriet, he and Nathan had a conversation about kids. Owen asked if Nathan and Megan ever discussed having children, and Nathan said that they did talk about it. Megan wanted to name their child Bernard, which he and Owen shared a laugh about. Nathan sadly went on to say that the universe had other plans for Megan.
When Megan was found and brought back to Seattle, Nathan proposed to her to rekindle their romance. However, she turned him down because she thought that he was still in love with Meredith. After getting advice from Meredith, Nathan made a big gesture for Megan by bringing her son back from Iraq. Megan finally believed that Nathan wanted to be with her, and they both departed Seattle to begin a life together in California.
After a few years filled with therapy to work on their relationship, it ended up one of the casualties of the pandemic. They realized they were a couple that enjoyed high highs and low lows and staring at the same four walls for a year while people were dying around them made them realize they were not meant to live together.
Nathan and Meredith were initially at odds, with her disliking him out of loyalty for Owen. Due to Owen's stories, she began to notice he was prone to making rash medical decisions, and their opinions quite often differed. However, she has shown to be able to put her dislike aside so it won't affect patients, or when Nathan told her his side of the story. When Meredith had a bad day, he confronted her about it in the parking lot. They started arguing and ended up having sex in her car. It happened four times, but Meredith didn't want him to get too attached to her. He claimed he knew they were just friends who had sex, but during Owen and Amelia's wedding, he smilingly looked at her, indicating he had started to feel more for her.
Later at the wedding, Nathan and Meredith flirted and he asked her to dance, only for Maggie to interrupt and dance with him, leaving Meredith to watch the two. Nathan continued to try to get closer to Meredith, and although she liked him, she kept brushing him off as she knew Maggie liked him too. Finally, Nathan showed up at Meredith's house, verbally confirming his feelings for her. Meredith lied to him, saying she didn't return the feelings, out of consideration for Maggie. Meredith also warned Nathan that Maggie was going to ask him out, which Nathan believed to be the reason she was rejecting his pursuits. Nathan still wanted to be more than friends with Meredith, but out of loyalty to her sister, she continued to ignore him. Meredith asked Nathan to a dinner date, but cancelled on him last minute as she had to care for Maggie, who was grieving after the death of Diane Pierce, her mother.
Meredith and Nathan found themselves sitting next to each other on a plane, both heading to a conference. Meredith went to the bathroom, but Nathan followed her, intent on talking to her about their situation. They ended up having sex. After the plane landed and passengers were tended to, Nathan proposed that they get a hotel room and Meredith accepted. A few weeks later, Meredith walked out of the hospital while holding hands with Nathan, indicating they are officially a couple.
With Megan returning, Meredith and Nathan's relationship was rocky. Nathan proposed to Megan, but she turned him down, believing he was still in love with Meredith. He told Meredith about that at the end of the day, but she just walked away from him. Meredith avoided Nathan out of anger, but when they later had a conversation, she revealed that she felt he was betraying her by not getting back together with Megan. When Nathan and Meredith had first started dating, they bonded over losing a loved one. Meredith believed that Nathan must seize the opportunity to have a second chance with Megan. If he didn't, then he wasn't the man Meredith thought he was. Nathan eventually moved to Malibu with Megan, effectively ending his relationship with Meredith for good.
Nathan met Owen and Megan in med school and became friends with Owen, who became like a brother to him. Owen was supposed to be his best man at his wedding with Megan. They were torn apart, however, after Megan disappeared in the field with the helicopter she was on and Owen began blaming Nathan for having allowed her to step on board. They did not see each other for years until Nathan came to the hospital with April Kepner. When he was hired as a cardiothoracic surgeon, Owen quickly began to bad-mouth him and punched him upon his notion that the two of them shared a family. They continued to share parts of the story, confusing their colleagues. On the day of Owen's wedding, Nathan brought the rings to the church since April ended up in the hospital. Owen appreciated the gesture and invited him to stay for the ceremony, thus marking a truce in the feud.
Nathan and Evelyn appear to be on good terms, with her hugging him warmly upon meeting him again after his arrival to Seattle, and him calling her "ma". It seems that she, unlike her son, has forgiven Nathan for whatever part he had to play in her daughter's fate. At Owen and Amelia's wedding, Nathan sat next to her while she admired her soon-to-be daughter-in-law.
During their time working together in Jordan, he became close with April Kepner, whom he often calls "Keps". They remain good friends at Grey Sloan, as seen when they were playing darts at Joe's and talking to each other about their personal problems.
Maggie was surprised to find out that Bailey hired someone for her department without consulting, but she soon came to realize Nathan was talented and not a bad guy. After the panel convened for Ben's actions on Gretchen McKay, Nathan noticed Maggie was acting differently and he figured she heard Owen's stories about him. He told her that everything he had told Meredith was true, but he admitted to leaving out some pieces that he considered just for him and Megan. Maggie understood and went back to treating him normally. Over time, Maggie developed a crush on him, but Nathan didn't notice it and just maintained a pleasant professional relationship with her. Pierce asked Nathan out, but Meredith had warned him about this and had told him to say no. Riggs did so due to his growing feelings for Meredith, but felt bad hurting Maggie.
Nathan and Amelia maintain a professional relationship. After he bought her a drink, he became aware of her romantic relationship with Owen and once offered to go talk to a patient's family without her so she could make her date with Owen. Nathan appears to keep a distance from her in his personal life since she's close to Owen, so he figured she'd have formed her conclusions about him already.
Riggs is an attending cardiothoracic surgeon, formerly working at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. He graduated from Harvard Medical School, and he was a candidate for head of cardiothoracic surgery at Duke University Medical Center prior to Chief Bailey hiring him.
He resigned at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital when he moved to Malibu. He applied for jobs in Los Angeles but it's unknown where exactly he works now.
He worked alongside the Army for years while doing relief work in the Middle East.
Notes and Trivia
- As an attending, Riggs wears a personal scrub cap. It is red themed with subtle etchings of a darker shade.
- Nathan has a habit of calling the morgue a "plumber", a habit he picked up on the field and is now trying to get rid of.
- Nathan likes bacon, and he often brings it to work as a snack.
- He once re-inflated a collapsed pulmonary artery on a dirt road with a straw and a set of car keys.
- He drives a black Range Rover Sport with license plate EVK-126.
- With the exception of Cristina Yang, Nathan Riggs is the first cardiothoracic surgeon who is not the department head to play a major role in any season.
- When he was a teenager, he and his friend managed to fly a crop duster in the air for four minutes before it crashed into a shed.
- Albeit not a Department Head, Nathan joins the list of cardiothoracic surgeons who left Seattle Grace Hospital or the hospitals established in the building later after only a couple of seasons: Preston Burke, Erica Hahn, Virginia Dixon, and Teddy Altman.
- He doesn't know how to play baseball.
A more complete gallery with pictures of Nathan Riggs can be found here.
These episode are Nathan-centric or are otherwise very informative about his life.
- The Me Nobody Knows
- My Next Life
- I Wear the Face
- At Last
- In the Air Tonight
- Get Off on the Pain
- Danger Zone
- Nathan: Family messes you up.
- Meredith: Is it so crazy that I would put someone else's happiness before mine?
- Nathan: No, but I mean, it's not completely practical in the long run. I mean, at some point, you have to think about the things that are gonna make you happy, too.
- Nathan: I promise you can't judge me harsher than I judge myself every day. It's a life sentence, mate.
|Grey's Anatomy, Season 12|
|#01||"Sledgehammer"||#09||"The Sound of Silence"||#17||"I Wear the Face"|
|#02||"Walking Tall"||#10||"All I Want is You"||#18||"There's a Fine, Fine Line"|
|#03||"I Choose You"||#11||"Unbreak My Heart"||#19||"It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)"|
|#04||"Old Time Rock and Roll"||#12||"My Next Life"||#20||"Trigger Happy"|
|#05||"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"||#13||"All Eyez on Me"||#21||"You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side"|
|#06||"The Me Nobody Knows"||#14||"Odd Man Out"||#22||"Mama Tried"|
|#07||"Something Against You"||#15||"I Am Not Waiting Anymore"||#23||"At Last"|
|#08||"Things We Lost in the Fire"||#16||"When It Hurts So Bad"||#24||"Family Affair"|
|Grey's Anatomy, Season 13|
|#01||"Undo"||#09||"You Haven't Done Nothin'"||#17||"Till I Hear It From You"|
|#02||"Catastrophe and the Cure"||#10||"You Can Look (But You'd Better Not Touch)"||#18||"Be Still, My Soul"|
|#03||"I Ain't No Miracle Worker"||#11||"Jukebox Hero"||#19||"What's Inside"|
|#04||"Falling Slowly"||#12||"None of Your Business"||#20||"In the Air Tonight"|
|#05||"Both Sides Now"||#13||"It Only Gets Much Worse"||#21||"Don't Stop Me Now"|
|#06||"Roar"||#14||"Back Where You Belong"||#22||"Leave It Inside"|
|#07||"Why Try to Change Me Now"||#15||"Civil War"||#23||"True Colors"|
|#08||"The Room Where It Happens"||#16||"Who Is He (And What Is He To You)?"||#24||"Ring of Fire"|
|Grey's Anatomy, Season 14|
|#01||"Break Down the House"||#09||"1-800-799-7233"||#17||"One Day Like This"|
|#02||"Get Off on the Pain"||#10||"Personal Jesus"||#18||"Hold Back the River"|
|#03||"Go Big or Go Home"||#11||"(Don't Fear) the Reaper"||#19||"Beautiful Dreamer"|
|#04||"Ain't That a Kick in the Head"||#12||"Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"||#20||"Judgment Day"|
|#05||"Danger Zone"||#13||"You Really Got a Hold on Me"||#21||"Bad Reputation"|
|#06||"Come on Down to My Boat, Baby"||#14||"Games People Play"||#22||"Fight For Your Mind"|
|#07||"Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story"||#15||"Old Scars, Future Hearts"||#23||"Cold as Ice"|
|#08||"Out of Nowhere"||#16||"Caught Somewhere in Time"||#24||"All of Me"|