‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Was Bailey Older or Younger Than Arizona?

Plenty of television shows center their appeal around strong character development. Sometimes, fans become so enamored by a character that they can hardly separate the actor from the role. Whether it’s a villain everyone loves to hate or a complex protagonist whose flaws help make them relatable, writing interesting and deep characters is often part of the recipe for a successful series. 

Few have mastered complex characters within an ensemble cast as well as Shonda Rhimes. All of Rhimes’ critically acclaimed series feature deep characters with backstories that get revealed more and more as time goes by, and these characters’ interactions with one another are often central to the plot. 

In Grey’s Anatomy, Rhimes’ signature style is on full display, and the web of characters has grown almost unbelievably complex over the series’ 18-season run. With nearly 400 episodes, the writers could be forgiven a minor plot hole or inconsistency, but fans are still invested in sorting through the details to get the timeline right. In the Grey’s Anatomy universe, who’s older: Bailey or Arizona? 

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Chandra Wilson plays Dr. Miranda Bailey

CHANDRA WILSON | Richard Cartwright via Getty Images

The sprawling cast of Grey’s Anatomy has seen a lot of shakeups — and surprising deaths — since its 2005 premiere, and only three characters have made an appearance in all 381 episodes to date. One of those is, of course, protagonist Meredith Grey. The other two are Dr. James Webber and Dr. Miranda Bailey. 

Over the show’s run, Bailey’s character has seen many details of her persona fleshed out, and fans have paid close attention to the changes over time. Early on, Bailey was a no-nonsense boss who got nicknamed “The Nazi” by interns who saw her as too strict. Over time, viewers got to see that the hard exterior was a facade for a much kinder, gentler person inside, and Bailey won fans over with her caring treatment of the interns who needed support. 

Jessica Capshaw plays Dr. Arizona Robbins

Introduced in Season 5, the character of Dr. Arizona Robbins (portrayed by Jessica Capshaw) introduced plenty of dramatic moments to Grey’s Anatomy. Taking over the role of head pediatric surgeon after the death of Dr. Jordan Kenley, Arizona had an important role within the professional realm of the hospital. 

It’s her love life, however, that got the most attention in the show’s plot. Arizona married — and later divorced — Dr. Callie Torres. The pair have a daughter together, and a custody dispute was a source of major drama in the show’s recent seasons. Eventually, Arizona headed to New York — and off the show — to be closer to Callie and their daughter. 

Another major point of Arizona’s personality development revolved around an injury she sustained in the show’s infamous plane crash episode. As a result, Arizona had a leg amputation, and the series showed her struggling with the recovery and what it meant for her life before regaining some of her previous bubbly personality. 

Fans try to determine whether Bailey or Arizona is older

With so many complex character developments to keep track of, being a fan of Grey’s Anatomy can require some deductive work. A Reddit thread shows several fans debating the ages of Dr. Bailey and Dr. Robbins. 

The original poster posits that Arizona must be older than Bailey because “Arizona was already an attending” at the time that “Bailey (and Callie) had just finished residency.” However, others pointed out that the calculation wasn’t that simple: “Seniority doesn’t necessarily imply age, either.” Many pointed to the characters’ appearance, noting that Arizona looks younger than Bailey, but that is also not necessarily helpful — especially since Capshaw is actually seven years older than Wilson! 

To put further complications on the discussion, some fans pointed out that Arizona’s promotion within the hospital didn’t make a lot of sense: “She became a fellow and department head at Seattle Grey’s at the same time. That’s Grey’s Anatomy logic.” 

Most fans seem to accept that Arizona is slightly older than Bailey, but it doesn’t seem the show makes that explicit. 

RELATED: Why Did Jessica Capshaw Leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ as Arizona Robbins?