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Series: Grey's Anatomy
Welcome to Seattle Grace-Mercy West.

Grey's Anatomy is a Medical Drama. Beginning its life in 2005 as a Mid Season Replacement, Grey's quickly became known for being sort of, well, quirky, especially given its genre: in addition to McNicknaming and using the world "seriously" as much as we use the word "egregious", the show focused primarily on the romantic and sex lives of its characters rather than on the medical cases. Case in point: the first scene of the pilot episode is Narrator Meredith Grey waking up after a one-night-stand with a hot guy named Derek and rushing off to her first day as an intern at Seattle Grace Hospital... only to discover that said one-night-stand, Dr. Shepherd, works there too.

The show follows the lives, both personal and professional, of a group of surgeons at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital (formerly Seattle Grace, and then Seattle Grace-Mercy West following a merger in Season 6). Most episodes are narrated by Meredith, a world-weary intern struggling to deal with her mother's Alzheimer's syndrome. Though initially focused on five interns and their immediate superiors, the show has introduced numerous characters since its onset, resulting in a large ensemble cast. Additionally, the show has matured some in recent years; the wackiness and sexcapades have been largely toned down, resulting in a more serious character study. Some found this deplorable, but the show continues to pull high ratings.

Former Trope Namer for Urgent Medical Alert, Grey's Anatomy Emergency Medical Response. Should not be confused with Gray's Anatomy, the famous textbook on human anatomy the title is based on.


This series provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: As with any show with this many characters that's run for this long, it's bound to happen. Notably:
    • Izzie treats a family of undocumented immigrants outside the hospital and off the books which is not only unethical but also illegal and could get her fired and probably arrested. She tells them to come back and ask for her, obviously set up to be a longer story but we never see them or anything related to it again.
    • When Arizona returns to the hospital from Africa it's with the express caveat that she is no longer Head of Peds, that she will report to Dr. Stark who had been serving in that position during her absence. The two have wildly different personalities and methods of doing things. This was obviously set up for them to conflict and we get exactly one episode out it before Stark disappears, never to be seen or mentioned again and Robbins is back to being in charge.
  • Absentee Actor: Katherine Heigl in Season 6, by her own request. After appearing sporadically throughout the first half of the season, she was credited for six episodes she wasn't in before she finally decided she truly wasn't coming back.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • One episode has a girl who has very bad injuries, and the doctors strongly suspected it is her parents who have been hurting her. It is later revealed she feels no pain and has been allowing other kids to beat her up as she believed it was a superpower.
    • Meredith's mother was verbally/emotionally abusive and her father abandoned her.
    • Alex's father, until Alex fought back as a teenager and his father never came back home. Alex's mother was schizophrenic (which his brother also develops), and unable to care for her children.
  • Actor Allusion: Jo Wilson, played by Camilla Luddington, whose Star-Making Role was as Kate Middleton, is referred to as "Princess" by Alex.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Occasionally, an episode will be narrated by somebody other than Meredith. It used to only happen about once a season, but it's recently become more frequent.
    • George got one in Season 2.
    • Cristina got one in Season 3, and two more in Season 10.
    • Bailey got one in Season 4, and another in Season 9.
    • Denny Duquette got one in Season 5 (although he was long dead at that point).
    • Alex got one in Season 5, and another in Season 9.
    • Izzie got one in Season 5.
    • Derek got three in Season 6, and another in Season 10.
    • Owen got one in Season 6.
    • Callie got one in Season 7 (also the Musical Episode) and another in Season 10.
    • Chief Webber narrated his own two episodes in Season 10, and his monologues (not technically narration, as they're spoken in-story) were featured in episodes in Seasons 3, 6 and 8.
    • Additionally, the last episode of Season 2 and the first episode of Season 6 both featured the entire cast reading bits of narration, sometimes only one or two words, and an episode in Season 8 featured only the male cast narrating.
  • An Odd Place to Sleep: In the second episode of season 10, Derek goes out for milk and comes back over an hour later because he fell asleep in the parking lot. Later, Meredith falls asleep on the floor while talking on the phone.
  • Adult Fear: The entirety of the episode "The Girl With No Name." Aside from the main Patient of the Week, Bailey panics for a few minutes when she thinks her son is missing.
  • All Lesbians Want Kids: Zigzagged and then Played Straight with Callie and Arizona. Initially, Arizona doesn't want to have children, but changes her mind after the shooting, deciding that not wanting children is not worth being separated from Callie. Callie comes to the same opinion, and tells Arizona that not having kids isn't worth losing her, but Arizona overrides her and tells her she can't live without her and their ten kids.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: the eighth-season episode "If/Then", which revolves around an Ellis Grey who is alive and lucid. The ripple effects are fairly significant (Alex has proposed to Meredith; Callie and Owen are married; the Shepherds are still together; Cristina has no friends) but Because Destiny Says So other things come back to bite them (Alex is still an inveterate womanizer; Mark and Addison are still carrying on; Meredith still can't please her mother; she and Derek are attracted to each other; she and Cristina become Fire-Forged Friends whilst struggling to save a patient), turning the whole thing from "For Want of a Nail" into "In Spite of a Nail" instead. Incidentally, the episode's theme is "Because Destiny Says So." Has a lot of moments of Fridge Brilliance.
  • Amusing Injuries: A lot. Some earlier episodes had a parasite enter through a patient's penis, Addison getting a rash from using poison ivy in place of toilet paper, a patient suffering from priapism, and Mark having a fractured penis all Played for Laughs. Usually the attendings have to warn the interns/residents to be professional and not laugh when around certain patients.
    • A recent episode has Bailey describe getting an infection from having sex on the beach while Callie laughs.
  • And Starring: Patrick Dempsey (as Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd). Isaiah Washington also had this credit. And sometimes guest stars as well: William Daniels always had it during his appearances in the 9th season.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Happens all the time. But in particular we gotta give it up to the Grey sisters as both Meredith (to Derek) and Lexie (to Mark) have their love speeches ignored by their respective soulmates.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Reasons that Meredith thinks that Derek wouldn't want babies with her; family history of Alzheimer's, history of suicidal tendences, and split ends
  • Artistic License - Law: Buying a hospital is not done quickly.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Absolutely nobody pretends to feel sorry for the rapist whose penis was bitten off in an early episode, to the point of mocking his situation right in front of him.
  • Author Avatar:
    • Izzie Stevens is what Katherine Heigl considers a better, more moral version of herself.
    • And basically all of the female characters are versions of or parts of Shonda Rhimes' personality, according to her.
  • Author Catchphrase: The pilot episode, referring to making conversation solely because of presumed social conventions as "do[ing] [relevant determiner phrase] thing", by both Meredith to Derek at the beginning ("We don't have to do the thing..."), and by Cristina to Meredith at the end ("Do we have to do that thing..."). Strange because this was not a common turn-of-phrase (at least not before the episode aired), and Cristina came from another state and just met Meredith during the episode, after Meredith had used the phrase with Derek. Probably the intention was to form Book Ends, though more common phrasing used both times would have worked fine, and sounded much more natural. Also referring to important people in life as "my person"- the main characters do this frequently, then patients and their families also use it without having heard the main characters say it.
  • Back for the Dead: Adele Webber.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: In the Season 6 finale, Gary Clark, the shooter, is talking with Lexie about his intention of killing her. *bang* She falls. Suddenly, she looks up, to find he's been shot by SWAT.
  • Batman Gambit: Bailey plays one on Arizona in Season 9. She's trying to break Arizona out of her funk and get her to come back to work, prosthetic leg be damned. It works.
  • Big "NO!": Meredith gets one in the Season 6 Finale, when it seems as though Derek has died.
  • Big "Shut Up!": In the very first episode of Season 5, Cristina snaps at Meredith after coming to her one too many times with relationship woes:
    Cristina: "So please, please, please, as you weigh your options here, just, you know, consider the possibility... of shutting the hell up!"
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the second episode, there is some unsubtitled Chinese.
    • In a later episode when Callie comes out to her father and he tries to make her leave Seattle and move back home with him she starts ranting in english but as she gets increasingly furious she swaps between english and spanish, sometimes mid sentence.
  • Blue Orange Contrast: In season six episode "Invasion" the newly arrived Mercy West doctors wear bright orange scrubs in contrast to the various shades of blue used for Seattle Grace's scrubs and furnishings.
  • Break Her Heart To Save Her: Owen fires Teddy, who is planning to stay at Seattle Grace rather than taking a better job, because he's having a hard time and she wants to help him through it.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Lexie tends to lead the pack on this, though she's far from the only one. Recently lampshaded by Meredith, who worries about her emotional strength.
    • April is the latest victim of this. In spades.
    • Most recently, Arizona.
  • Cassandra Truth: One elderly patient complained of pressure in her chest for years, but everyone thought it was just in her head. Turns out her previous surgeon (Dr. Burke) left a towel inside of her.
  • The Cast Showoff: Dr. Bailey (played by former Broadway actress Chandra Wilson) sings "God Bless the Child" to her baby son in a season 3 episode. The season 7 musical episode gives almost everyone a chance to sing, but naturally the episode centers around the other Broadway veteran in the cast, Sara Ramirez (Callie).
  • Character Filibuster: In earlier seasons, this happens once or twice. Per episode. In later seasons, however, this is generally limited to Meredith's voiceover narrations, which play over a series of scenes beginning or finishing each character's episode storyline.
  • The Chew Toy: April and George.
    • Arguably Izzie Stevens as well (although maybe she's more of a Butt Monkey).
  • Closet Key: Callie and Erica were this for each other. Much later, Arizona is this for Leah.
  • Code Emergency: "It's the End of the World" & "(As We Know It)" features "Code Black": Armed bomb on premises (this one is actually a rocket in a patient's abdomen).
  • Code Silver: The Season Six finale.
  • Color-Coded Characters: How do you tell who's an intern/resident and who's an attending? Interns and residents have baby blue scrubs and attendings have navy blue
  • Conspicuous CG: The da Vinci machine.
  • Contractual Immortality:
    • Notably averted by Isaiah Washington, who plays Dr. Burke. Washington was fired from the set for making homophobic comments towards T.R. Knight (George O'Malley), who is gay in real life. This was worked into the script: Burke leaves Cristina at the altar and doesn't even have the guts to come back to get his own things, sending his mother in his stead.
    • Season 5 ended with two characters (George and Izzie) on the brink of death. During the summer hiatus, it became common knowledge that one of those actors (George's) has not had their contract renewed... and sure enough, when Season 6 picked back up, that character had died.
    • The previews for season 8's finale promised that one of six doctors would die in a 'plane crash. Since the actors for Meredith, Derek, Cristina, and Mark were all confirmed to have contract renewals prior, that meant only Lexie or Arizona could fit this. It turned out to be the former.
      • Zig-Zagged two episodes later when one of the renewed-contract characters (specifically, Mark) checked out after only two more episodes.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Dr. Webber has a relationship with a Meredith's mother, who later suffers from early-onset Alzheimer's Dementia and lives in a nursing. A few years after said woman dies, his wife also gets AD at a pretty young age. She later ends up in a nursing home and dies as a patient at Seattle Grace.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Cristina was all set to get an abortion but ended up having a miscarriage before her appointment, according to show creator Shonda Rhimes, this was a result of Executive Meddling. For the record, Rhimes is on the board of Planned Parenthood. In season eight, Cristina does go through with getting an abortion.
  • Dark Horse Victory: The race for chief resident between Cristina, Jackson, Meredith, Alex. Owen, as her husband, is hesitant to even consider choosing Cristina and it looks like either Meredith or Alex. Alex screws up both their chances, though Owen hinted that he was strongly considering Alex. April, who no one takes seriously, is the one who wins and she is initially very bad at it.
  • Dating Do-Si-Do
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cristina more than anyone else, but many characters are this at point or another.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Meredith has an emotionally abusive mother with Alzheimer's, a Disappeared Dad, and her boyfriend turns out to be married… in Season One. By Season Six, her mother has died, her stepmother died, and her father blamed her for it. Along the way, she went through hell to get her man, however, and did actually succeed. They are now happily married, except for the fact that she just miscarried their child.
  • Double Standard / The Unfair Sex: Subverted. Jo tells Alex that she fake cries to make people feel bad for her and get what she wants. When Alex tells her it's not fair since guys can't get away with doing it, she tells him they can, and it actually works better for them since people are more freaked out when seeing a man cry. They then proceed to use this tactic to con their way into getting a hotel room and it works.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: In the episode "Brave New World", a man is in the hospital with a nasty gash on his head because his wife threw the TV remote at him. As he gets stitched up, she mocks him and tells him that she'll divorce him as soon as he gets well. The doctor working on him doesn't even think to notify the police, and the scene is pretty much played for laughs.
    • Lampshaded and deconstructed late in Season 9 when boyfriend and girlfriend (Jo and Jason, AKA Chest Pecwell) get into a fight. Alex points out to the guy that, regardless of whether the girl hit first, the fact that the guy hit too is going to follow him forever. Via this blackmail he manages to persuade the guy from pressing charges... Which Derek immediately calls him on. (To Alex's credit, he also calls the girl on her actions the next chance he gets, though he may not have done so had Derek not chewed him out.)
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr. Stark, which surprised everyone since he was a pediatric surgeon.
    • Meredith acts like this in season 9, as she's going through a rough in the aftermath of the plane crash and having her best friend separated from her.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • George being dragged by a bus would qualify. In all fairness, he was saving Lindsey from The O.C..
    • The end of Season 8 dropped a plane on poor Lexie.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Really. Every character who had a happy (or simply unmentioned) childhood seems to have had it counterbalanced in their adult life ... and every character who did not? It managed to get worse.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the pilot the five interns are four as Alex barely appears (there is a nurse who has more lines), the hospital is laid out differently (understandable for a pilot), the interns corridor where they hide is close to the action and has vending machines, no patients are admitted (later in the series we always meet patients at the door), the Grey House is a different house, Webber doesn't seem to know Meredith (in the very next episode he claims he helped change her diapers), no one says "Mc" anything (Cristina invents that meme in episode 2), Meredith's narration is actually a conversation with her mother, and in the second episode the pediatrics department is seen and they have light purple scrubs (two seasons later they have the same color as the surgery interns).
    • The credits sequence was cut in mid-season two. The teaser now ends with the title card, and the credits themselves run as subtitles under the second act.
  • The Eeyore: One episode of season 9 has a patient who is depressed about her situation, a gymnast who would never get full movement in her lower body, and makes everyone she talks to sad and cynical.
  • Embarrassing Full Name: Calliope Iphigenia Torres.
    • Adding insult to injury, after she marries George O'Malley someone jokes that her married name would be Callie O'Malley (thankfully she remains Torres).
  • Embarrassing Nickname: In Season 1, George's freezing up during his first surgery earns him the nickname 007 (because he has a "license to kill").
  • Everyone Can See It: Addison's eventual realization to the Love Triangle she's stuck in with Meredith and Derek.
    "The only people who don't know that Derek loves Meredith are Derek and Meredith."
  • Evil Redhead:
    • This is how Meredith perceives Addison the first time her character is introduced. Interestingly enough, after Addison gives up on Derek, leaves for LA, and comes back to Seattle to do a surgery she now is a brunette.
    • The serial killer whom Derek, Cristina, Owen, and Meredith treat in season 5. He tells Meredith that he sliced a woman's neck open one day because he had been fantasizing about it for a while... and then he decided he enjoyed it so much that he would slice open 4 other women's necks.
    • In season 7 episode "Disarm" the college shooter is a redhead.
  • Fake American: Jo Wilson is played by an English actress, while Kevin McKidd is Scottish.
    • And Cristina is played by Canadian Sandra Oh.
  • Fake Guest Star: frequently. The show often treats its guest stars like starring characters (or promotes them).
  • Fanservice: The infamous scene of Sloan only barely wearing a towel.
    • Avery takes off his shirt at least once every other episode
  • First Episode Spoiler: The big twist of the Season 1 finale, that Derek is married, is old hat to pop culture, particularly now that his wife Addison has her own Spin-Off (Private Practice). Other big twists (such as the deaths in the Season 5 and 6 finales), are also spoiled, though to a lesser extent.
  • Five-Man Band: with initials spelling M-A-G-I-C!
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Izzie falls for heart patient Denny Duquette. Unfortunately, nothing good came of this.
    • Teddy fell for Henry, whom she initially married just to help him get medical treatment.
  • Foreshadowing: At the end of the What If? episode in season 8, a character dies. At the end of the season, the character dies in the main continuity too.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: After the first few episodes of the sixth season, George is barely ever mentioned again. Though his mother shows up in a later episode and is treated like family by his former friends and wife.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Cristina is the friend, Derek is the love interest, and Meredith is caught in-between. It's said, however, that between Cristina and Derek, Meredith would choose Cristina, if she had to pick.
  • Friends with Benefits: Callie and Mark.
  • From Bad to Worse: Intern Ross in season 9 working under Meredith accidentally orders the wrong test, as a result they don't find out her liver is failing until it is too late. The patient needed a liver transplant, but Ross ends up accidentally destroying the liver so they have to get a second one. When they get to the second liver, they see that is has a mass on it. Subverted at the end, when a biopsy reveals that the second liver was actually fine and the patient survives.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery / Sympathetic Adulterer: In earlier seasons, Derek cheats on Addison freely due to considering his marriage over (he caught her in bed with his best friend) and seemingly not caring to end it officially. Addison feels the same way, and defends his infidelity when it is mentioned to her.
    • Though he did tell her he never wanted to see her again and moved to a different state so it was pretty official. He also did later cheat with Meredith while was trying to make it work with Addison.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted by Cristina, who gets an abortion in the season eight premiere, and Addison, who got pregnant with Mark and got an abortion before moving to Seattle. Addison is introduced as somewhat of a villain, but by the point this information is revealed, she is a sympathetic character.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: Meredith's house of candles for Derek in the season 4 finale.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Meredith's Morality is most definitely Grey. She tampers with the Alzheimer's Trial to help Da Chief's wife which puts her in a very bad spot with her husband who accuses her of not knowing the difference between Right and Wrong.
    • In the season seven finale, she gives an excellent speech on how she firmly believes the world is this way.
  • Groin Attack: at one point the Patient of the Week is a rape victim who, while in surgery, is discovered to have bitten off her rapist's penis. And when we say "at one point" we mean "the show's second episode." (Meredith has to carry the evidence around in a cooler until the authorities take custody of it.)
  • Has Two Mommies: Sofia, who is being raised by biological parents Mark and Callie and Callie's wife Arizona.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: One Season Two episode involves a Patient of the Week whose pain medication is porn (with the flimsy justification of it resulting in the brain/body releasing endorphins). The girls watch a bit of one, and one of them remarks, "There's no way that can be comfortable," as they all tilt their heads to watch. Meredith's response ("Trust me, it's not") causes some surprised stares.
  • Hello Boys: An episode that aired after a Super Bowl started with female cast members showering. Turns out, George is dreaming. It ended the same way, only Izzie and Cristina were cleaning the remains of the Bomb Squad guy off Meredith, with George watching.
  • Heroic BSOD: Recovering from this is Owen's major character arc. Derek in Season 5 after accidentally killing a pregnant woman. Such a strong BSOD that he passes it on to Callie and Owen. Then Derek (again) and Cristina in Season 7 and 9.
    • Alex, who was unable to take elevators after the season 6 finale events until Richard persuades him to do so. Granted, he almost bled to death inside of one.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A man comes into the ER after saving a woman by pushing her out of the path of an oncoming bus. His face is disfigured, so it takes a while for the doctors to find out the victim is George.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Meredith and Cristina.
    • By season 3, Mark and Derek.
    • Mark and Jackson became this for a while.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: The reasoning behind Meredith's liver transplant storyline in Season Six–it was a procedure that would require a lot of bedrest for the character and to get Ellen Pompeo off her feet in real life (Shonda Rhimes has stated she was very pregnant whilst those episodes were being filmed).
    • Also Chyler Leigh (Lexie)'s overeating during Season 5. It was a bit of an in-joke with the cast.
    • Jessica Capshaw's pregnancy is hidden in season seven. There was one scene where they failed in the premiere, but they're mostly filming her from the chest up and hiding her behind clipboards. They then sent her character to Africa.
    • Sarah Drew's pregnancy was also hidden in season eight, since her character was a virgin. Jessica Capshaw's third pregnancy is being hidden in season eight, too.
  • Hollywood Homely: Jackson once says that his family doesn't take him seriously because he is so attractive, while the rest of his family is smart and looks like they are smart. Later on, his mother is introduced and is played by Debbie Allen.
  • Hospital Hottie: Lampshaded by Erica Hahn in Season 4:
    Erica: "Do you hire on looks alone, or is actual skill a factor?"
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode shares its title with a song.
  • Idiot Ball: Oh, not that often, but sometimes on this show...
    • How about Meredith thinking that the chief being a drinking alcoholic while operating on patients isn't "a big deal" and that it shouldn't cost him his job?
    • It's understandable that George, in a moment of grief, might propose to Callie. It's a bit less understandable why she would think that a couple of days after the death of his father would be a great time for a Vegas wedding.
    • Bailey injecting deactivated HIV into a patient after his parents withdraw consent for the experimental procedure. When she tells them the truth, she is actually surprised that they are pissed off.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Meredith is pregnant, only she doesn't want to tell anyone yet (not even Cristina) because she thinks she'll jinx it if she gets too optimistic. Though Cristina already knows this. And Meredith knows Cristina knows. And Cristina knows that Meredith knows that she knows.
  • Important Haircut: In season 10, Arizona gets her hair cut after Callie leaves her. In season 7, Cristina cuts Callie's hair after her breakup with Arizona.
  • Improbable Age: The actors playing Meredith, Alex, George and Cristina were all somewhat older than the average intern in the first season (by nearly a decade in Ellen Pompeo's case). Not impossible by any means but a little improbable. Averted by Izzie - Katherine Heigl actually was twenty-six when the show started.
    • Cristina has a PhD as well as an MD so she would be older than the average intern since she has four to six (depending on a MA and what program she did) more years of school.
    • It's also outright stated that Meredith didn't necessarily take her education all that seriously until her mother was diagnosed, so it's easy to think that she took longer than the standard four years to finish her undergrad or that she didn't go straight from undergrad to med school... or even straight from high school to college, for that matter.
    • And, of course, the show uses a mild version of Webcomic Time, so any actors who were an appropriate age when hired will eventually outgrow their characters.
  • Improbably Female Cast: Of all the new surgical interns, only one is a male. Enforced by The Powers That Be, since the show is about "smart women competing with each other." George was originally meant to be the only male intern in season 1; Alex was later added due to Executive Meddling.
    • In seasons 9-10, Shane is The One Guy.
    • Bailey said that as an intern, she was the only female in her class. However, a flashback to her intern year in "The Time Warp" shows that she was in a totally gender-even class.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Izzie on occasion, especially during her "What about me?" speech to Denny. Cristina gets a few moments too.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted on numerous occassions.
  • In-Series Nickname: Quite a few, actually.
    • Derek is "Dr. McDreamy".
    • For a few seasons, Miranda was called "The Nazi", which officially ended after she operated on an actual white supremacist.
    • George acquired the nickname "007" in Season 1 after nearly killing his first patient.
    • Mark Sloan was briefly called "McSteamy" when he was first introduced.
    • Lexie is called "Little Grey" by some characters, and "Lexiepedia" due to her Photographic Memory.
    • Meredith and Melissa George's short-lived character Sadie called each other "Death" (Meredith) and "Die" (Sadie).
    • Owen calls Cristina and Meredith "the twisted sisters".
    • The new interns call Meredith "Medusa" and, for a little while, called Bailey "BCB" ("Booty-Call Bailey").
  • Insufferable Genius: Cristina. Just... Cristina. Dr. Burke as well, to some extent.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: In the second episode, Izzie asks Cristina to translate for a woman who only speaks Chinese. It works as well as you'd expect—especially since Cristina grew up in Beverly Hills.
    "The only Chinese I know is from a Mr. Chow's menu. Besides, I'm Korean."
  • The Intern: A whole bunch of them. Only temporary, though, and then they promote.
  • Introduction by Hookup: The day before Meredith starts her new job as a surgical intern she has a one night stand. The next day she finds out her partner, Derek, works as an attending at the same hospital.
  • Irony: The Season Six Finale has two significant examples.
    • Dramatic/Tragic: During the spree killing, type 2 Dogged Nice Guy Charles Percy, who is dying of a gunshot wound, asks Dr. Bailey to find Reed after everything is over and tell her about how he'd loved her all this time. Unknown to both him and Bailey, Reed was in fact the first person to die when the shooting started.
    • Situational: The shooter, Gary Clark, brought along a flask filled with vodka, just in case he needed some "liquid courage"; leaving some ammunition behind instead. As he explains:
    Gary Clark: "The funny part is, I didn't need a drink until now. Right now. And the only reason I need a drink is because… I've only got one bullet left. (laughs) I left bullets at home because I thought I'd need a drink, and I only reason I need a drink because I don't have enough bullets!"
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: Although, in part, it can be excused by the fact that the people who tend to die are the people the protagonists cared about in the first place.
    • After McDreamy broke down, he was shown a pile of those whom he killed and those whom he had saved. The ratio was 10:1, dead to alive.
      • In fairness, McDreamy is known for taking on cases that everybody else says are hopeless. If anything, he should probably be proud of himself for not giving up on them.
  • It's All About Me: justified. April's trying to have a wedding day, but Arizona and Meredith and Cristina all drag their Conflict Balls in instead of being bridesmaids. She tells them to get their priorities in order, and to everyone's credit, they do.
  • It's Personal / One of Our Own: Occasionally (yet still more often than believable), the patient of the day will be related to one of the cast. Drama ensues.
    • So far, we've had Meredith's mother (more than once), father, and stepmother. The latter two are also Lexie's parents, so they get bonus points on that one. We've also had George's father, Izzie's daughter, and Alex's brother. Plus Meredith's friend Sadie Harris, and Meredith's mother's scrub nurse. Oh, and Dr. Webber's niece, and Addison's brother. And Dr. Webber's wife, Adele, Bailey's son and husband, Meredith and Lexie's youngest sister, and Izzie's love interest, Denny Duquette. This is all even without counting the times the characters themselves needed to be operated on. So far, we've had Meredith (more than once), Cristina, George, Izzie, Alex, Dr. Webber, Derek, Dr. Burke, Owen, Mark, Callie, Arizona, and Heather Brooks.
    • And in season 8, even though George is dead his mom drops in.
  • Ivy League For Everyone: Meredith went to Dartmouth, Mark and Addison went to Columbia, Lexie went to Harvard, and Jo went to Princeton (and graduated first in her class.) Other notable alma maters include Stanford (Cristina) and Bowdoin (Derek,) both of which are very selective schools.
  • Jerkass Ball: Meredith in the season 9 premiere. Somewhat justified considering her sister just died, her husband has a hand injury that might compromise his career, and her best friend is halfway across the country and they are unable to visit each other. However, this gives her a Bailey-esque reputation with her interns.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Alex has the absurd capacity to tell the truth in the most offensive way possible.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Alex. Later seasons show how much he cares for kids. He's still an ass though to most grown-ups.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • In Season Six, Alex points out that Meredith simply thinks she's married, but (to the best of our knowledge) isn't actually or legally wed.
    • The fact that everyone has inappropriate relationships is lampshaded in a season seven episode.
    • The Musical Episode lampshaded the high casualty rate. They actually called the hospital "Seattle Grace Mercy Death". (Lampshaded again in the Season 8 finale, somewhat less whimsically.)
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In season 1 episode 4 Cristina effectively steals a patient's chart so she can get in on an interesting whipple surgery, then a guy comes in having survived falling down stairs and shooting himself repeatedly in the head with a nail gun but she's told she's on the whipple. Then it turns out that the patient is really in for palliative care and was never likely to under go the surgery as her condition was terminal.
    • In the first episode of Season 5, Cristina loses it over Meredith constantly coming to her with relationship issues, and tells her off. Immediately after, she slips and falls. Oh, and is then struck by a falling icicle.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Addison gets pregnant while she's cheating on her husband. She ends up getting an abortion. She then decides to have a child of her own, and finds out getting pregnant is practically impossible. This carries over into Private Practice. Meanwhile, after having a miscarriage, Meredith is unable to conceive when Callie and Cristina (for the second time) learn they're pregnant.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Bed-bound, Rebecca Pope's only entertainment is eavesdropping on the nurses gossip.
    Rebecca: "It's like watching a soap!"
  • Left Hanging: Unusual for Grey's, the Season 8 Finale, one of the periodic "disaster" episodes, leaves many loose ends over for the next season — the incident wasn't even resolved, and the first two episodes of Season 9 were dedicated to showing the aftermath.
  • Lets Wait Awhile: Erica and Callie agree to wait before having sex because they are unsure they're ready to have sex with another women. However, in the next episode, in what is assumed to be another date, they have sex.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Alex and Jo, who claim their friendship is like this and deny they have feelings for each other. Jo seems disgusted by the idea.
    • (Then they hook up.)
  • Limited Social Circle: For a major hospital, the important cases—and the twisty relationships— all seem to occur in the same corner of the surgery department. Occasionally lampshaded, such as with Derek's "junior varsity" shadow, who we only meet once and whose name none of the main characters can remember.
    • This could be expanded to the hospital itself which seems to only have a surgery department, to the point where the chief of surgery is the head of the entire hospital. Each department only seems to have one attending. This is most notable in the case of orthopedics. Callie is the only ortho surgeon we've met, despite her being a resident at the start of the show. A mere three years out of residency she is now effectively running the department. Another one was mentioned, though he seems to have retired.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Started with "only" nine characters in the credits, topped out at fourteen, and is frequently supplemented by Fake Guest Stars. Some Season 9 episodes have had credits that span the length of the entire second act.
  • Long Runner: Ten seasons and still going strong, though three of the original nine stars have left the show and a fourth has announced plans to depart as well (Sandra Oh / Cristina Yang).
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Alex and Meredith both used to do this; Alex at the beginning (through the middle) of the series, and Meredith after losing Derek to Addison.
  • Love Dodecahedron: George loves Meredith, who loves Derek, who can't decide whether he loves Meredith or Addison, who also is still in love with Derek, but at one point was in love with McSteamy, who hit on Erica, who made out with Callie, who was love with George, who had an affair with Izzie? Let's just say that the gurneys in this hospital are rarely free to actually hold patients.
    • The Izzie-Alex-Denny and Meredith-Finn-Derek love triangles and Addison/Alex relationship add further complications.
  • Lower Deck Episode: Season 9's "Love Turns You Upside Down" focuses on the interns. They're contrasted with major characters who started the show as interns but are now attending surgeons.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: In Season 2 Episode 24, "Break On Through", Izzie mentions to a pregnant teenager she's treating that she feels she can empathize with her, as she also got pregnant as a teenager. That child later shows up as a young leukemia patient, who needed a bone marrow transplant. Izzie donates anonymously and leaves the girl with her adoptive family. Meredith also gets a "Luke, I Am Your Stepmother" moment.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: In Season 6, it turns out Dr. Sloan has an 18-year-old daughter... named Sloan. Slightly subverted in that they knew about the pregnancy, but ended the relationship and he assumed there was an abortion.
  • Mama Bear: Dr Bailey shows shades of this towards her five interns specifically when Cristina needed surgery to remove a the fetus and a fallopian tube due to an extrauterine pregnancy and when George got hit by a bus and died.
  • Mandatory Motherhood: Averted by most of the main cast, but zigzagged with Callie and Arizona; the former wants children and the latter doesn't. They eventually break up over it. However, in the Season Six Finale, all the recent carnage makes Arizona rethink her position and decide that not having kids wasn't worth not being with Callie. Callie comes to the same opinion, and tells Arizona that not having kids isn't worth losing her, but Arizona overrides her and tells her she can't live without her and their ten kids.
  • Married to the Job:
    • Adele leaves Richard because of this (though the whole "Ellis Grey affair" really didn't help).
    • Bailey's husband Tucker divorced her because she's spending too much time at the hospital, you know, saving lives. She fears this will happen when she marries Ben, though he assures her it won't as he is also busy with work, quitting his job as an anesthesiologist to study medicine and eventually become a surgeon.
  • Mauve Shirt: Falling in love with patients usually isn't a good idea.
  • Medical Drama, of course.
  • Musical Episode: With a similar explanation to Scrubs, in that it's from the point of view of a patient, Callie. What, you thought they were going to waste Sara Ramirez's Tony-winning vocal chops?.
    • 12 months after this episode aired, Shonda Rhimes put together a benefit concert in Los Angeles, where many of the show's stars performed covers of songs live, many of them having been featured in said musical episode. The concert proved that there a lot of people in this show's cast who can sing, not just Ramirez.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Meredith and Derek tell Mark to stay away from Lexie. It doesn't work.
  • The Nicknamer:
    • Meredith has a habit of nicknaming the men she finds attractive.
    • Cristina starts naming her interns after the names of The Seven Dwarfs or names that are close enough. The interns themselves do this, such as calling Meredith "Medusa" and Bailey BCB (Booty Call Bailey).
  • No Bisexuals: Refreshingly averted with Callie Torres, who is explicitly identified as bisexual rather than lesbian, despite being married to a woman. However, Erica Hahn plays it straight, identifying as lesbian despite Callie being her first female partner (after a very long string of men), and even going so far as to claim that "you can't be kind of a lesbian".
  • Not So Different: Alex and his new intern Jo who he calls "princess" because he thinks she's rich and spoiled. It turns it that, like him, she spent most of her childhood in various foster homes and had to work hard to get where she is. Cristina also realizes that Dr. Thomas and her are a lot alike.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Invokes this far too often for a Medical Drama. First with Meredith who drowns, then with Izzie who codes in the season 5 finale, then with Derek who gets shot in the chest, zig-zagged with Mark, though, who fades in and out while stranded in a forest for days, only to die once he's taken off life support.
    Christina (describing time in the forest}: Mark kept dying...it was so annoying
  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue: In the Season 5 Finale, when Meredith and Derek decide to get married, Cristina gives her an old grocery list, a new post-it, and her favorite blue pen (which also counts as borrowed, since she wants it back).
  • Only Sane Man: Dr Bailey is the only member of the cast who never seems to forget that she's a doctor, not an eighth grader. The Chief also often seems like he's visiting from a normal universe.
  • Patient of the Week: with the added responsibility of frequently delivering anvilicious aesops that apply to the main characters and their Problems Of The Week. In the episode aired on 17 October 2013 alone:
    • A girl who is an expy of the eponymous character in My Sister's Keeper tried to say No and have her own life, teaching one of the doctors to make a clean break(up).
    • A character managed to get hornet stings on a sensitive area, requiring a catheter. His wife knows about his odd habit, but feels that "500 other wonderful things" outweigh one (Head-Tiltingly Kinky) flaw. This gave another doctor the dialogue she needed to deal with her boyfriend's mother, who before The Teaser had caught them in a delicate situation.
    • Oh, and the third patient might be someone's father, though that doctor's Parental Abandonment issues are getting in the way of any real communication.
  • Perma Stubble: Dr. Mark Sloan's typical look of choice. George even stops shaving to get Meredith's attention. Denny as well, though he has an excuse. Lampshaded by Derek in a Season 3 episode:
    Meredith: It's now become physically impossible for me to kiss your face.
  • Photographic Memory: Lexie, who is called "Lexiepedia" as a result.
  • Planning For The Future Before The End: Mark Sloan. At the time he knows he is going to die, but everyone else wants to believe that he has woken up from his coma for good.
  • Plot Time: In reality, mergers are extremely tedious and time-consuming. Even two small organizations (like hospitals) should take weeks or months, as their respective owners will need to do their due diligence, review each other's financial statements, negotiate terms, consult lawyers, etc etc. In the world of Grey's Anatomy, a merger can be decided on after one meeting with the board, and announced only days later. Though in all fairness they took a large chunk of the fifth season speculating about it.
    • Seasons 1 through 3 supposedly cover a one year span, with Season 3 covering prom time to med school graduation time, a whopping 3 months. The beginning of Season 4 to the beginning of Season 6 equates another 10 months, though Season 6 may actually be a year, given that a number of episodes elapse weeks in time (including one that features Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's all rolled in one).
      • It does however make you wonder how Bailey managed to mentor the interns for quite a while, then get pregnant, give birth, take maternity leave, return and mentor the interns for quite a while... in a span of ten months.
      • Bailey was already pregnant when the show began. By the time she revealed it to George, she was quite far along.
    • Season 9 has veered practically into Timey-Wimey Ball territory here. In the premiere, someone dies and gets an epitaph closing card: "Mark Sloan, 1968-2012." The same episode has videotaped flashbacks to other moments in the deceased's life, including a wedding marked "2009"—though the episode that depicted this wedding aired in May 2011. In the second episode (itself a Whole Episode Flashback), Meredith claims to Cristina that they first met (in Season 1) five years ago. Then in the 7th episode Meredith discovers she's three weeks pregnant; she gives birth in the finale. This means the entire season is a minimum of about 10 months long, covering more Plot time than it does Real Life time!
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: A two-part episode near the end of Season 3 served as the launch for Private Practice, a vehicle for (then) Grey's regular Kate Walsh as Addison Montgomery.
  • Posthumous Character: Denny Duquette, starting in season 3.
  • Precision F-Strike: When the new security system implemented after the shooting malfunctions and traps Dr. Avery and a patient in a hallway, Teddy, who has spent a good season and a half being whiny about men, finally takes a level in badass and remembers that she was in the army, for Chrissake, and yells at the security guard to "open the FUCKING door." It's bleeped, though, because it's a special episode told in documentary form as cameras follow the doctors around.
    • Mark, in the same episode, says that since Derek was shot he finally understands what it feels like to be the families of their patients. "It feels like shit."
  • Promoted to Opening Titles: Something like twenty actors have managed to score this trope for themselves. note .
  • Promoted To Parent: Derek was this to his four sisters.
  • Pun-Based Title
  • Put on a Bus: Done very often. Burke and Izzie would be the most notorious examples.
  • Reality Ensues: So the characters who won the lawsuit in season 9 are all set buy the hospital, only they don't have enough money. The investor they hoped to get last minute rejected their proposal on the grounds that none of them have any kind of experience running a hospital. When they get Richard, who has many years of experience as the chief, to help them out, the investor still rejects them because he just isn't that interested.
    • Happens again in Season 10. Attendings sleeping with interns has become so common (four of the five interns introduced in Season 9 have seduced or been seduced by their bosses) that nobody batted an eye about it... until HR instituted a strict no-fraternization policy, something they should've done in the pilot episode. (If it weren't for the fact that, if they did, we wouldn't have a show.)
  • "Rashomon"-Style: 6x06, an after-the-fact investigation into how a patient managed to be overlooked to death. An interesting version in that the stories are almost completely consistent, just fragmented, and by the end one full narrative is pieced together.
  • Red Baron: Bailey used to be called The Nazi.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Pretty frequently, resulting in Revolving Door Casting.
    • In a more direct version of this trope, Episode 9x19 is a Very Special Episode involving a mother, played by Sarah Chalke, who is convinced her child has Kawasaki's Disease but can't get any doctors to listen. This is based on Chalke's own panicked experiences with getting a diagnosis for her son Charlie, and she essentially plays herself.
  • Really Gets Around: Alex and Mark.
    • Meredith when Derek break up with her, which makes him jealous and tell her that she and Alex should get together, since he also likes to get around a lot.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Gary Clark's reason for shooting up the hospital in the Season Six Finale is to "be a man" for his wife, Alison, who had been a patient at the hospital and ended up being taken off of life support.
  • Romantic False Lead: Finn ("McVet") for Meredith, Addison and Rose for Derek, Julia for Mark (even if he only confirms this on his deathbed).
  • Rousing Speech: Happens annoyingly often. Special mention goes to Meredith's speech to Kate Carlson in "No Good At Saying Sorry".
  • Rule of Drama: Often an example of this being done well, such as the Season 6 finale. Just as often an example of this being done badly, such as the Season 5 finale.
  • Running Gag: Derek's thing for ferryboats.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Give it up for Miranda Bailey, everybody! Ironically, this appears to be the root of her nickname, "the Nazi." Goebbels and Eichmann were always giving each other the 'Z' snap, girl!
    • After having to operate on a genuine white supremacist, she asks not to be called this anymore.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Derek eventually settles this way when the operators of the crashed plane offer to settle.
  • Ship Sinking: "Do You Know?" does this quite effectively for Cristina/Owen. Cristina imagines two alternate futures for herself and Owen, both of which end with at least one of them dissatisfied and bitter. In the first, they remarry and Cristina gives Owen the children he wanted, and the resulting strain on her life ends with her passing an important case to Shane, for which he eventually wins a Harper Avery. At various points, including the birth of her first child, she expresses to Meredith how getting back together with Owen was a huge mistake. In the second, they continue their no-strings-attached sexual relationship, resulting in a Masochism Tango in which they repeatedly break up and reunite, and while Cristina is successful and wins multiple Harper Averys, Owen's desire for children and a family ultimately drives him to alcoholism and gets him fired. By the end, it's almost impossible to argue that they should be together.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Katherine Heigl, apparently. And Shonda Rhimes herself.
    • Debatable in Rhimes' case. She may have an ego, but being the creative force behind three successful shows gives her quite a big name...
  • Soap Opera Disease: Annoyingly common, given that this is supposedly a show about real medicine. Most obvious with Izzie's cancer.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: A subdued example in Zola, Meredith & Derek's adopted daughter. While the series is pretty vague about the passage of time and she's skipping months instead of years, it's still happening.
  • Spell My Name with an S: It's Cristina, not Christina.
  • Spin-Off: Private Practice follows Addison Montgomery, after she leaves Seattle Grace for a new life.
  • Split Screen: Episode 9x05 used it extensively.
  • Status Quo Is God: Played straight in that no matter what, Dr. Webber always seems to end up being chief of staff, and Alex will inevitably undo his Character Development. Subverted in that Meredith and Derek have actually stayed married with less drama (compared to how the on-again, off-again relationship stage was).
    • Though Webber isn't the chief of staff anymore, Owen is, he keeps trying to retire but doesn't stick to it.
    • At the end of season 8, Meredith, Derek, Cristina, Alex, Jackson, and April are all preparing to leave Seattle Grace. As of the beginning of season 9, only Teddy and Cristina have actually left, and after five episodes in Minnesota, Cristina is back. Somewhat justified considering the repercussions of the plane crash. This was due to real-life circumstances.
    • No matter how many times April gets fired, it doesn't stick.
  • Stock Trailer Music: Whatever the sad and contemplative (e.g. The Fray's "How to Save a Life") popular song is at the time, chances are the trailer for the new episode/season will feature it.
  • Story Arc: The writing tends to follow this style, and usually, each character is involved in more than one per season.
  • Stress Vomit: Episode 1: Meredith almost kills a patient through inaction. After a stressful moment that patient is saved and Meredith endures the scorn of her attending physician and her resident. She rushes out of the hospital into the pouring rain to empty her guts tastefully into the bushes.
  • Sue Donym: Calliope ... Plantain.
  • Survivor Guilt: Alex, after the Season-8-finale plane crash—especially since one of the most-injured parties (Arizona) was there to replace him after he was his typical Jerkass self and backed out. It's made worse when Arizona tells Alex it's his fault.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After the actor who played Ben, Bailey's Love Interest, moved to Rhimes' short-lived show Off The Map, Eli became her love interest. Both relationships had a similar dynamic. Then Ben came back after the series was cancelled and Eli was never seen again.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Congratulations, Richard Webber, on managing to squeeze your very own Moment Of Awesome into the very end of the Season Six Finale.
  • Talking Your Way Out: In the Season Six Finale, Dr. Shepherd attempts this with Gary Clark, the hospital shooter. And fails. It works for April Kepner, though. It also worked for Callie on behalf of herself, Arizona, and a child with a ruptured appendix.
  • Televisually Transmitted Disease: Used relentlessly by this show. For specific examples, see the trope's page.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Season 9 has the hospital hire someone to help them save money to keep it running, this person brings in a guy to teach the surgeons a standard way of doing a specific procedure. When Dr. Webber still wants to do it his way, saying it would be good for the patients, the guy says the patients don't matter. He tries to Verbal Backspace, but the reason he was there in the first place was not to help the patients.
    • "I have a penis. No, I don't... I'm a girl."
  • Their First Time: played both ways in Season 4.
    • Izzie and George, finally free to sleep with each other without commitments (like his wife) looming over their heads, find that the chemistry has disappeared, and no matter how hard they try, it isn't any good.
    • In the two-part finale, boyfriend-and-girlfriend brain-tumor patients, facing a risky experimental treatment, enlist Meredith and Derek to stand guard against their parents while they play "Must Not Die a Virgin" totally straight.
  • The Three Certainties in Life: The title character once remarked, "In life only one thing is certain, besides death and taxes... No matter how hard we try, no matter how good our intentions, we are going to make mistakes."
  • This Is Unforgivable: After finding out Meredith messed with the Alzheimer's trial, Derek tells her that he will never forgive her and that he can't raise a child with someone who doesn't know right from wrong. He, of course, forgives her a few episodes later.
  • Time Skip: one after each Wham Episode (Season 6 finale, Season 8 finale). Typically followed up by at least one Flash Back-centered episode covering How We Got Here.
    • A nested Time Skip occurs in Season 9, with the first episode setting up a Character Death and the second resolving (IE setting up) both that and the Season 8 Cliff Hanger.
    • Happens again in Season 10 for the mid-season premiere. This time of only three weeks.
  • Title-Only Opening: In later seasons, there's The Teaser, a title card, and then credits that run under the second act. Sometimes the entirety of the second act.
  • Together in Death: With Mark and Lexie She dies in the season 8 finale as he's telling her that he loves her. As he's slipping into a coma (he doesn't actually die until after he wakes up the next season), he says " Lexie's waiting for me ... I'll be okay." What makes this moment especially tragic is that they never got to get back together.
  • Token Minority: Averted; blind casting was used for most all of the characters, as there were no racial specifics in the pilot episode. The only change that was made was that Cristina's character was given a Korean last name.
  • Too Many Babies: Several season 2 episodes are centered around a mom who chose to keep all 5 of her babies, even though the doctors had recommended she have 1 or 2 of the fetuses terminated.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Alex falls under this umbrella.
  • True Companions: Not very apparent at first view but it's definitely there. Especially when everyone cooperates to let Callie see her daughter.
    • As the hospital creeps closer to bankruptcy in Season 9 it becomes more evident. Five characters enter into a conspiracy to save the hospital, with the other six stars left in the dark; but the instant they hear about it, they forgive the troubles caused thereby and join the effort.
  • Unequal Pairing: Quite a few. An Attending dating an Intern or Resident is treated as a serious issue in Season One, but in later seasons it is par for the course.
  • Verbal Tic: "She has my McDreamy, she has my McDog, she has my McLife." Will you McShut Up Already?
    • I gotta go choke back some McVomit.
    • Seriously? Seriously! SERIOUSLY!?
    • You're my person.
  • Very Special Episode: One of the Trope Codifiers for this Undead Horse Trope.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: A couple characters are introduced early in Season Six and then killed off in the Wham Episode finale.
    • From Season 2: Dylan Young, that bomb squad guy who was introduced in one episode, then blown up (literally) in the next episode. He did come back later for a couple episodes ... as a ghost.
    • A number of new characters are introduced in the Season 9 premiere. One of them croaks exactly a year later.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The Season Two Finale, a three-part episode that begins with multiple gunshot injuries arriving at the hospital after a disgruntled employee attacks his place of work. The first of three parts end with Izzie cutting the LVAD wire in an attempt to get her ill boyfriend at the top of the transplant list. "[Heart surgeon] Burke will be here soon," she promises... just as the gunman shoots Burke down. And that's just the first Drama Bomb.
    • The Season Six Finale. Looking it over, there were only two characters that were never in direct mortal danger: Teddy Altman and Mark Sloan.
    • The Season 8 finale: Lexie's death, Owen firing Teddy, and—oh yeah—the plane crash, with five main characters stranded in the middle of somewhere-between-Seattle-and-Idaho, all of them injured.
    • The Season 9 premiere. Meredith and Cristina are cut off from each other, save FaceTime, because neither of them can stand to take plane trips anymore. Derek's injuries have resulted in his left hand going numb, which may do nothing less than end his career as a surgeon. Arizona's broken leg had to be amputated—by Alex. Mark has reached the end of his living will and is taken off life support. And Meredith has transformed from Grumpy Bear into full-on Broken Bird.
    • A season ten episode, "Sorry Seems To Be Hardest Word" flashes back to late season nine and reveals Callie and Arizona decided to have another baby, but Arizona miscarried her pregnancy.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The Season 8 finale involves a plane crash, and the plane's pilot is a character. It takes several episodes of Season 9 before he's even mentioned again ( he broke his back in the crash and is paralyzed. This information comes to light when one of the lawyers representing Seattle Grace Mercy West suggests suing a number of people and organizations, including the pilot, for the plane crash.
    • Dr. Stark. When Arizona is rehired, it's with the express understanding that she will report to him, and then we have exactly one episode of them coming into conflict before he disappears and she's right back to running the department with never a word about him.
    • Dr. Russell, who has had three scenes since Cristina came back and has told her that she will run the cardiothoracic surgery department in all but name. She certainly does!
  • What If?: Season 8's "If/Then"
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Alex gets one after telling the chief that Meredith was tampering with the Alzheimer's trial, which gets her (temporarily) fired. What she did was illegal and ruined her husband's credibility, though he's seen as being more in the wrong because she was trying to help a friend and he told on her out of spite and to ruin her chances of becoming Chief Resident.
    • Owen gets one from Meredith after he cheats on Cristina.
    • Richard gets one from a staff member from the nursing home calls him out when he stops visiting his wife.
    • Alex gives one to Meredith and Cristina in Season 9: the plane crash lawsuit, followed by their resignations, are threatening to drag the hospital under.
  • Whole Episode Flasback: "The Time Warp", which has Richard, Bailey, and Callie talk about cases that changed their lives. Richard talks about how he and Ellis treated an AIDS patient during the 80s (when it was stilled called GRID), while Callie talks about her and Alex doing a surgery on a patient who suffered from polio, and Bailey talked about her early days of being a shy intern and dealing with a neglectful resident and learning to stand up for herself and her patients.
  • Why Waste a Wedding?: Meredith and Derek seemed finally ready to tie the knot, but opted out so the cancerous and dying Izzy could marry Alex before she became too weak to walk down the aisle.
  • Will They or Won't They?: They Do - Meredith and Derek, Callie and Arizona. Izzie and Alex, but she was Put on a Bus. Mark and Lexie don't. Cristina and Owen have recently gotten divorced, but this if anything seems to have strengthened their relationship. April and Jackson do.
    • Cristina breaks up with Owen again at the end of season 9 since Cristina realized he wanted to have children and she never wants to. She thinks he'll never be happy with her because of this, and at the beginning of season 10 she says that this time they are broken up for good.
    • As of season 10, Callie and Arizona are broken up due to Arizona's cheating and are seeing a marriage counselor.
  • Your Cheating Heart: A recurring motif.
    • Owen. Cristina suspects he is cheating on her with a nurse played by Summer Glau, but he assures her that it isn't the case. Double subverted, when it's revealed he did cheat on her (dumbass) with someone who is not played by Summer Glau (double dumbass!).
    • George's girlfriend Olivia had been cheating on him with Alex, and he finds this out when he's diagnosed with syphilis. George later cheats on his then-wife Callie with Izzie.
    • Dr. Webber and Meredith's mother Ellis, who were both married to other people at the time.
    • In season 8 Dr. Webber finds his wife Adele is with another man at her nursing home. Justified since her dementia has advanced to the point where she barely remembers her husband anymore. Richard decides to let her go and starts dating Catherine Avery, though he and Adele remain married. He feels guilty about not seeing his wife after her death.
    • Addison cheated on Derek with Mark, which is the reason why he left her. He cheated on her with Meredith when they got back together.
    • Arizona cheats on Callie in the season 9 finale.

ERCreator/Kim RaverNight at the Museum
The Good WifeCreator/Omid AbtahiHeroes
A Gifted ManMedical DramaHolby City
    Creator/Shonda RhimesPrivate Practice
GrimmAmerican SeriesGrowing Pains
The Greatest American HeroCreator/ABCPrivate Practice

alternative title(s): Greys Anatomy; Ptitlespennt 48
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