The 10 Most Shocking Grey's Anatomy Moments
It's hard to believe we're about to begin the 14th season of Grey's Anatomy. In the next chapter at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital, Owen's sister is back, Dr. Minnick and Stephanie are gone, and nothing is the same after the harrowing fire in this year's season finale. As we head into the future, we're on the cusp of a new era: Grey's is going back to its roots. It seems appropriate to look back and see how far we've come. With another major shift on the horizon, we're thinking about all the other major turning points in the show that got us here. It should come as no surprise that most of them have to do with death.
The Death of Derek Shepherd
Even though we knew Derek's death was coming (thanks to the Grey's Anatomy rumor mill on the internet), it did not soften the blow of his loss. The devastation was so real. This is someone we've known for over a decade. This is someone who's been around since the very first episode of the very first season. It still hurts.
When Burke Leaves Cristina at the Altar
After everything they go through together, we never, ever expected Cristina and Burke's relationship to end like this. Cristina has laid everything on the line for her man. She basically trains to be head of cardio while also covering for Burke's scary hand tremor. In that moment, when Meredith cuts her out of her wedding dress and Cristina breaks down, we're on the exact same page.
The Plane Crash
Roll your eyes all you want. Sure, these doctors seem to be especially prone to misfortune. You still have to admit that that the plane crash is utterly shocking, devastating, and transfixing. Even if they skip over most of it, the trauma we do see is more than enough. This event changes these doctors (and us) forever.
This is nothing but sheer tragedy. Lexie and Mark are the star-crossed lovers of this bleak world . . . and they never truly get a chance to live happily ever after. It's poetic for Lexie to die while Mark watches her go — poetic and utterly cruel.
The Hospital Shooter
Fight me on this. The shooter in the hospital is one of the best episodes of television ever. Every single second matters. Every scene is layered with unbearable tension. The most crushing and terrifying thing about this ordeal is that no character is safe: Reed dies. Alex gets shot. Derek gets shot. Cristina nearly gets a bullet to the head. Everything hurts.
Once Grey's hit 10 seasons, it was clear the show kind of hit a lull. I mean, there are only so many precarious situations or romantic pitfalls to put these doctors in, right? But everything changed during the Winter premiere in 2016. Meredith gets the sh*t beat out of her thanks to a confused and belligerent patient. It's a gripping hour, and Grey spends most of it with her jaw wired shut. I'd argue this marked the beginning of a new narrative era for the show.
The Devastating Loss of George O'Malley
The brilliance (and shock) of George's death comes when Meredith first realizes he's the one who's been mangled by a bus. There are plenty of situations where we the viewers know more than the characters on screen. The impact of discovering George at the same time as Meredith, though, is undeniable. I still feel hurt when I think about that moment of urgency and helplessness. We all suddenly became so much more invested in this hitherto anonymous bus hero. And then, we had to watch him slip away.
In what appear to be Izzie's final moments, she has a vision. She's in the dress she wore on the night of Denny's death. She's on the hospital elevator, and George is on the other side of the doors in his full army uniform. The scene is like a triple punch of heartbreaking moments rolled into one: We remember the death of Denny Duquette. We remember the loss of George. And we know we might lose Izzie. When she's alive, it's a reminder of the show's founding principle: fate is arbitrary and ultimately unfair. Why does Izzie survive when George and Denny die? We'll never get an answer.
The First Near-Death of Meredith Grey
At this point, it's kind of laughable how many times Meredith has nearly died. That said, Meredith's near-drowning is one of the most sobering events in the show. An incident that occurs pretty early on in the series, it may be one of the first times we're told, implicitly, that no one on Grey's is safe. This is a dangerous world. This is life or death. Any doctor could die at any time.
As we mentioned previously, there are a few implied rules on Grey's Anatomy, and Denny embodies two of the most important lessons we learn: no one is safe, and life is unfair. Here, Grey's gives us a shocking dose of reality. You can do everything to save the one you love. You can risk your career and throw caution to the wind. And it still might amount to nothing; your one love may still get taken away.
But the latter lesson is something Grey's reminds us of nearly every week: life is unfair. The show spent weeks and weeks building hope and happiness into the love story of Izzie and Denny. Ask any fan of the show: they are one of the most iconic and best couples in the entirety of the 10+ seasons. We watch everything fall perfectly into place, and then promptly fall apart. In this scene, we learn the hard truth, and that's what makes Denny's death the most shocking of all.