Shonda Rhimes’ medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” has been on television for 16 seasons, with more episodes to be aired. Fans continue to see a lot happen on the show and still manage to expect the unexpected when it comes to “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Aside from the sometimes extremely dramatized medical situations, one of the greatest things about the show is how real it is. The characters aren’t always perfect, and we watch the struggles they face in each episode. The intense episodes are balanced with occasional filler that provide some breathing room for fans, as well as some comic relief.
The series has also always been incredibly diverse. Along with racial diversity, many different types of people and situations have been represented on the show, such as the reality of death, LGBTQ+ issues, doctors with disabilities, adoption and a lot more. “Grey’s Anatomy” hasn’t shied away from much over the last 16 seasons.
A spoiler alert is definitely in effect as we dive into what has made “Grey’s Anatomy” excel for so long.
The intense storylines would be nothing without the characters. The original interns are the people that audiences fell in love with: Meredith, Alex, George, Izzie and Cristina. If you take the first letter of each of their names, it spells out “m-a-g-i-c,” and magic is what it has been to watch them over the years.
Viewers saw them enter the hospital on their first day as interns and followed them through their residencies, attending positions, career moves and series departures. They all came at once and left at different times, but when they were all together is arguably when “Grey’s Anatomy” was in its prime. There is a lot to say about these characters, so this is just touching the surface.
Meredith (Portrayed by Ellen Pompeo)
Meredith Grey is the epicenter of the series. There is so much to say about Meredith. She has unfortunately been struck with tragedy throughout most of the series, but she remains strong and determined. Her relationship with Derek Shepherd was a focal point of “Grey’s Anatomy,” but all good things must come to an end.
We’re always rooting for something good to happen to Meredith, as she always wants to help and do what’s right. Meredith remains on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and it has been said that the series will not and cannot continue without her.
Alex (Portrayed by Justin Chambers)
From the moment he was introduced, Alex Karev was someone you loved to hate. He was a cocky and arrogant intern who loved to stir the pot with the others. However, Alex had some of the best character development in the series. He always had compassion, but it took some chipping away for everyone to see it. He was a pediatric surgeon, something that originally seemed at odds against his rough demeanor. He eventually became Meredith’s best friend, or “person,” until his series departure in the 16th season.
George (Portrayed by T.R. Knight)
George O’Malley was sweet and friendly to his fellow interns. From the beginning, it seemed he was set up for failure by another doctor, a situation that earned him the name “007.” He was always helpful and caring to others and loved by many. He had a few heroic moments on the show when it came to surgery and personal situations. George eventually had a tragic and shocking departure early on. During his time on the show, it appeared that he was going to surprise everyone with his skills. Unfortunately, he did not get to reach his full potential.
Izzie (Portrayed by Katherine Heigl)
Izzie Stevens always wanted to do right. From the first few episodes, we saw how willing she was to help others. Izzie was a sweet, quirky surgeon, but she knew what she was doing. One of her downfalls, but most admirable traits, was how she was willing to break the rules to help people. Izzie went through a few relationships in which fans sympathized with her, as they weren’t ideal. She was diagnosed with cancer, which she fortunately overcame, but she departed the series shortly after that. Until Season 16, there are mentions of Izzie, but she is never again seen.
Cristina (Portrayed by Sandra Oh)
Fierce, intelligent and competitive, Cristina Yang was destined for greatness from the very beginning. She was Meredith’s best friend, or better yet, her “person.” Though she often put her work before relationships, we got to see a few romantic plots out of Cristina Yang’s storyline. Before anything else, though, she was passionate about cardiothoracic surgery.
Unfortunately, we had to bid farewell to her in Season 10, as she accepted a job offer in Zurich. True to her character, she chose her career over relationships. However, we did get to see her softer side as she hugged and said goodbye to her colleagues.
Along with the five interns, the early seasons introduced doctors that audiences couldn’t help but fall in love with, too.
Miranda Bailey is the intimidating yet very lovable attending. She has been on the series since the first season and we have followed her until she was eventually named chief of surgery.
The former chief, Richard Webber, has also been with us since the beginning. He has always been a strong figure in general, and we watched his key personal relationships as well as his relationships with the interns develop throughout the series.
We got to watch Derek Shepherd and Mark Sloan, also known as McDreamy and McSteamy, throughout most of the series, as they worked alongside the interns, residents and other attendings.
Lexie Grey, Meredith’s half-sister, came to the hospital as an intern in Season 3 and gave us one of the most heartbreaking departures of the entire series.
Last, but not least, audiences followed the relationship between Callie Torres and Arizona Robbins through most of the mid-to-later seasons. Though often tumultuous, it was an impactful representation of the LGBTQ+ community.
Of course, there are many, many more doctors and characters that have come and gone on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and they have all made their impact.
Where Are We Now?
A lot of changes have occurred over 16 seasons. Of the original cast, only three remain on the show. Some of the storylines seem forced for drama, and fans speculate over what could possibly happen next, since we’ve seen it all already.
While fans would once hear Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” and anticipate something tragic, they’ve pretty much learned to expect it at this point. No character has been safe from tragedy on the series, but because it’s happened so much, it’s almost no longer surprising to viewers.
Perhaps it’ll soon be time to turn on “Chasing Cars” and say goodbye to the series altogether and preserve the greatness “Grey’s Anatomy” has given us for so many seasons.