In 2005, the world was introduced to Meredith Grey and the other interns, residents and attending doctors of Seattle Grace Hospital. Now, twelve years and fourteen seasons later, “Grey’s Anatomy” has stood the test of time, still holding its own as one of the most-watched shows currently on television.
Although many characters have come and gone through the doors of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, four originals remain: Miranda Bailey, Richard Webber, Alex Karev and, of course, Meredith Grey herself. In addition to the iconic original cast members that have been a part of the show since the beginning, the heartbreaking and crazy storylines still remain, keeping audiences as interested in the show as ever.
*WARNING: Spoilers ahead*
1. The Bomb Squad (Season 2, Episodes 16 and 17)
This was one of the earliest crazy storylines for “Grey’s Anatomy” that seems to have set a precedent for all of the bizarre instances that came afterward. A man is brought into Seattle Grace after being shot by his friend with the new Revolutionary War-era weapons they’d just gotten. Oh, and along with his entry wound, the paramedic who answered the call comes with her hand stuck inside the man’s chest cavity.
Though at first they believed the bullet to have entered and left the man’s body, it is soon revealed that there is live unreacted ammunition, leading to the bringing in of a bomb squad and Meredith putting herself in a near death situation when the paramedic, Hannah, runs in fear from the operating room. Both in terms of Meredith’s tendency to put herself in dangerous situations and the crazy nature of the show itself, this early episode served as an indication of the bizarre events that were to come.
2. Meredith’s Dance with Death (Season 3, Episodes 16 and 17)
Late in Season 3, a ferry boat crash causes many of the doctors to go to the scene of the accident and set up triage. One of those doctors is Meredith Grey who, while helping a patient, gets pushed into the water, causing her to drown.
Of course, a woman Meredith’s age who has graduated from medical school should presumably be able to swim, but this is one of the instances in which her need to straddle the lines between life and death is important. Over the course of the series, many of Meredith’s actions are questioned, though this is one of the most questionable choices for her, as she literally dies and is brought back to life.
3. Izzie’s Tumor Surgery and George’s Death (Season 5, Episodes 23 and 24)
This one was a double whammy for fans, taking two of the original five interns off the show in one sweep. While Izzie is in surgery for Derek to remove her tumor, a John Doe patient is brought in after pushing a girl out of the way and being hit by a bus. Just before surgery, the patient traced “007” into Meredith’s palm, and hearts broke all over America because that was George’s nickname.
While both were put under in surgery, Izzie and George met in a space in between life and death, although Izzie ended up ultimately recovering from her cancer. O’Malley’s death is still probably one of the most heartbreaking moments for fans who have been with the show since the beginning.
4. The Musical Episode (Season 7, Episode 18)
If you’re looking for something completely out of place within a medical drama, just watch the musical episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” On their way out of town, Arizona proposes to Callie while driving and within seconds, the two get into a terrible car crash. Although Arizona leaves virtually unscathed, a pregnant Callie gets thrown through the windshield and ends up watching the episode as an out-of-body experience, narrating it through song.
Although a musical episode may seem out of place in a medical drama, it has become one of my favorite because it’s the episode when Mark Sloan and Arizona realize that they need to put their differences aside because the two of them and Callie are about to be raising a child together. As heartbreaking as the car crash, and Callie’s long recovery, may have been for fans to watch, it taught a valuable lesson on family and the power of love in getting through difficult times.
5. The Plane Crash (Season 8, Episode 24)
This episode is one that some super fans still talk about today as being one of the most heartbreaking episodes of the entire series. While completing a medical trip, Derek, Meredith, Cristina, Arizona, Lexie and Mark get into an awful plane crash. Everything about this episode and its aftermath was hard to watch and stomach, from Lexie’s death to Mark’s death to Arizona losing her leg.
Despite the tragedy of the plane crash, the remaining members of the team rallied, using their settlement money to buy back the hospital and rename it to Grey Sloan Memorial for Mark and Lexie. Although the show lost two fan favorites with the crash, it made sure that their memories lived on in a perfect way.
6. Derek’s Death (Season 11, Episode 21)
One of the storylines that some fans may never get over is Derek’s death. Just as he and Meredith have reconciled and begun working toward their strongest relationship, Derek had to go and die. What makes this storyline even more heartbreaking is the fact that Derek died after saving people on the side of the road who had gotten into a car crash. Just moments after saving lives, Derek’s was taken as the result of his car being t-boned by an 18-wheeler out of nowhere.
What makes things worse is that when Derek was brought into the small nearby medical center, his inner-monologue could have saved him if only his mouth had been able to get the words out. Everyone knew Patrick Dempsey was looking to leave the show at the time, but the fact that Derek’s death didn’t come as a surprise didn’t make it any less severe for fans. Well, I guess if you have to kill someone off, having them go out as a hero is probably one of the better ways to tie things up.
7. Owen’s Sister Returns (Season 14, Episode 1)
At the end of the thirteenth season, Owen’s sister Megan was found as a prisoner during an air raid after she had been missing for ten years. Although she returned physically injured, Megan seemed to show no signs of mental harm or PTSD, which doesn’t seem that logical of someone who had been kept prisoner for ten years in a foreign country. This storyline was one that some long-time fans questioned because it seemed like just another way to take something away from Meredith, her new relationship with Nathan Riggs, who had been Megan’s fiancé before she disappeared.
That said, Megan’s story did have some nice happily-ever-after moments, like she and Nathan moving out to California with her adopted son and Meredith even won a coveted Harper Avery Award for her work repairing Megan’s stomach. Megan’s return serves as one of the many moments in the show’s fourteen seasons that brings happiness with heartbreak, which is at the core of what has kept “Grey’s Anatomy” fans watching for twelve years. What will Shonda Rhimes come up with next?