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  • Acceptable Targets:
    • The rapist whose penis was bitten off by his would-be victim is treated with pretty much the exact amount of tact and sympathy you'd expect anyone to have for somebody in that situation.
    • Nurses, apparently. Being called a nurse is treated like a grievous insult, and when Bailey gets attracted to Eli, a nurse, she struggles a whole lot with it. When asked whether she is dating a nurse she denies it adamently, insisting that she would never stoop so low. It is also actually Nurse Eli who figures out how to minimize the risk of post-op pancreatic fistulas, but Bailey gets all the credit because she is the doctor who noticed that he had figured it out. In general nurses are treated like less valuable than doctors, while any real doctor knows that nurses are just as important. In real life, a lot of what the surgeons do on the show would be done by a nurse.
  • Accidental Aesop:
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    • Arizona's tryst with Dr. Boswell is justified by the claim that Arizona, a Control Freak, is allowed to lose control once in a while. So, because she's never cheated before, that makes it okay for her to cheat now? — Though most of the characters don't treat it this way and the storyline doesn't give a position on the cheating, just using it as a device to open up storylines on Arizona and Callie's relationship.
    • If a woman beats a man to the point where he's in a critical condition and he hits her back in self-defense he is still the bad guy and shouldn't press any charges because all anyone will care about is that he hit a girl.
    • 12x15. Arizona tells Jackson that April is pregnant out of a place of love, trying to help. Sure it wasn't a great idea, but every single character tells her that it's pretty much the worst crime someone could ever commit. April even says to her "I believe in this stuff so I want you to know how much I mean it when I say go to Hell" — she wants to condemn her best friend to an eternity of torture because of this, and nobody bats an eye. Arizona hurt her deeply, fine, but she was coming from a good place; April says probably the most hurtful thing she could ever think of to anyone (that they're basically irredeemable pure evil that deserves endless suffering), let alone to someone who is gay (i.e. almost guaranteed past traumatic experiences with the same words), and did so vindictively, but she is still the one who has been wronged??! Basically, April is deliberately being as hurtful and upsetting to Arizona as she conceivably can, and it's treated as the most appropriate response.
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    • At the end of season seven Meredith tampers with Derek's Alzheimers trial and gets caught by Alex, who later on (and while drunk) reports it to Owen because Alex is worried that Meredith will be named chief resident. The truth thus comes out, and it leads to everyone being really mad at... Alex. Meredith broke the law, her actions put the hospital and Derek at risk of being blacklisted by the FDA, it's deeply unethical and unfair to the person who would have gotten the drug if Meredith hadn't switched the bags around (not to mention all the people who won't get the drug anymore once the trial is shut down) and in real life Meredith would have lost her medical license over this. Derek is furious with her for a couple of episodes and Bailey reacts the way you might expect a sane person to. Everyone else is furious with Alex, going so far as to putting all the blame on him for the fallout, including accusing him of getting Meredith fired when that was 100 % her own fault. Meredith too joins in on blaming Alex for the whole thing and Owen chooses not to appoint Alex chief resident because he ratted out Mere, when you would think that finding out that another surgeon broke the law and keeping quiet about it would be a much worse decision. Cristina even ends up accidentally stabbing Alex with an injection of adrenaline, and while it might make sense that she sides with Meredith in this situation nobody else has any reason to do so. The take-away message seems to be that if you catch someone red-handed breaking the law you should keep it to yourself, because if you don't you are a bad person and any repercussions suffered by the person who broke the law is entirely your fault.
  • Adorkable:
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    • Lexie is innocent, endearingly awkward, and timid, with a tendency to ramble on when she's nervous.
    • Maggie's Genki Girl personality, neurotic behavior and tendency to blurt whatever comes to mind makes her practically a posterchild. Doubly so during Season 14, when she unknowingly eats a weed cookie and her quirkiness is cranked up to eleven. She's convinced she doesn't need her neck anymore and goes on a loving diatribe about all her favorite kinds of cheese, among other things.
      Maggie: "You're so pretty. You look like a cartoon."
    • Ben Warren's enthusiasm involving the high risk calls involving an invisible chemical fire and one of an apartment building, he's practically bursting with the adrenaline rush and grinning like a kid at Christmas.
    • Even the suave Jackson Avery has his moments. There's a great bit during the iconic weed episode where he gets high, causing him to forget how to pronounce words and giggle at childish jokes about vaginas. Then there's his attempt to look 'hip' in front of a group of visiting elementary kids by trying to make 'Plastics Posse' sound cool...which doubles as tragic since it's his way of keeping Mark Sloan's memory alive.
  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Reed and Charles were unpopular both in universe and with the fans, but then they were shot dead during the hospital shooting.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Did Ellis Grey really care about her patients, helping the sick, and relieving suffering? Or was her focus really on showing everyone what a great doctor she was?
  • Anvilicious: Boy, oh, boy... This show is a poster child for this trope. In fact, the beginning and end of every episode is reserved for a voiceover by Meredith (or, occasionally, another character, if it happens to be their Day in the Limelight) highlighting the episode's particular Aesop.
    Why, no, I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy out of the corner of my eye ... and by no means do I mock that every episode ends with some patient croaking in melodramatic fashion during a montage set to Snow Patrol’s "Chasing Cars" ("If I lay here.. If I just lay here ... Would you lie with me and just forget the world?") leading to perpetual basket case Dr. Grey offering a voice over with some sort of pseudo-philosophical Chinese-cookie-worthy life lesson that the doctors learned while botching their latest life and death surgical procedure ("You spend your entire life searching for a place to call home, and only when all seems lost do you turn around and realize, you’ve been there all along") and I absolutely totally don’t mimic EKG flatline noises every time "Chasing Cars" comes on the radio.
    —Jim Geraghty, National Review Online
  • Arc Fatigue: Izzie's cancer storyline in Season 5 really started to drag as the season went on, as the writers rejected every major opportunity for the storyline to give Izzie some needed Character Development.
  • Ass Pull:
    • The solution to season 9's problem? Have Catherine Avery come and offer to have the Avery Foundation buy the hospital.
    • The one time they really care about the rules is when it has to involve at least one of Meredith, Derek and Richard getting in deep trouble.
  • Awesome Music: In general, this series makes very good use of music, very frequently.
    • ''Chasing Cars'' by Snow Patrol in the Season 2 finale.
    • Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson in the third season finale and Off I Go by Greg Laswell in the very last scene of the Season 5, to tear-jerking effect.
    • "How to Save a Life", by The Fray, at the beginning of Season 3.
    • "In My Veins" by Andrew Belle in the Season Six Finale, as Dr. Bailey fulfills her promise to Charles Percy to tell him truthfully when he is dying.
    • A good 90% of the Musical Episode.
    • The music in the back half of season 10 is almost entirely acoustic '80s covers.
  • Badass Decay: Bailey. Gone are the days when "The Nazi" was feared by almost everyone.note  The interns have started calling her "Booty Call Bailey" behind her back and are more afraid of Meredith than they are of her.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • April Kepner. Some fans are endeared by her (and her relationship with Jackson) and find her quirky and adorable. Others see her as shrill, whiny, religiously conservative and, eventually, a religiously-conservative hypocrite. When her early characterization was wiped and then she became Arizona's friend she was good for a moment, then turned and became all of that again.
    • Lexie Grey. Shonda Rhimes made no secret of the fact that she was a Creator's Pet, but since she was a lot less insufferable than Izzie or (at the time) Meredith, a lot of fans liked her anyway. Her death broke the base even further, with an equal number of fans devastated to lose her, upset but satisfied with her character arc, or happy to see her gone.
    • Meredith, due to her "McWhatever" Verbal Tic and mid-show show-mandated inability to have Character Development. Some find it charming, others painful. She also has quite a wide Mary Sue streak about her, which some find difficult to stomach.
    • Owen Hunt during his first few seasons. Some loved him, and his relationship with Cristina, and felt he was a breath of fresh air and one of the more mature characters on the show. Others disliked him for the way his PTSD affected his behaviour towards Cristina, and for being unable to choose between her and Teddy. There were even fans who complained about his terrible singing voice in the musical episode, even though Kevin McKidd is probably the second best singer in the cast, after Sara Ramirez.
  • Broken Base: The death of Derek Shepherd has absolutely splintered the base. Almost nobody is happy about it, given how loved the character was, but some are willing to make the concession that it was the only way to write out Patrick Dempsey, who was going to leave the show anyway, without demonizing the character and having him abandon his wife and children for good. Others wish a better solution could've been found, and see the move as a cheap ratings stunt, and not even a necessary one given that the season hasn't exactly been struggling to pull high numbers. And, finally, you have those who feel indifferent about it, having lost interest in the character a long time ago.
  • Designated Hero: Pretty much all of the heroic surgeons come off as this from time to time. The show seems adamant that surgeons are allowed to do whatever they want and ignore the wishes of their patients, and frequently shows them doing things that would get real doctors fired or arrested. Like stealing organs from patients, coercing patients to give up a transplant for ''their'' patient, misplacing body parts, and ignoring family member' wishes. Surgeons are so self-obsessed in this world that they are effectively allowed to indirectly murder people for personal gain. And when clearly unsympathetic characters, like Penny, make the same kind of mistakes, they are outright treated like murderers.
  • Die for Our Ship:
    • Stephanie for Jackson/April.
    • Rose is the epitome of this for MerDer
    • Teddy has Callie/Arizona as her "aspirational couple" and is devastated when they separate.
    • More recently, there's Jackson/Maggie for the Jackson/April fans. The fact the couple made it official the same day that it was announced that Sarah Drew (April) was fired from the show did not help matters and fans speculate that Drew, who had no intentions to leave, was cut to allow Jackson and Maggie to thrive. (Japril fans did get the last laugh when their ship was used to write Jackson out due to Jesse Williams's departure.)
  • Easily Forgiven: Meredith, after tampering with the alzheimer's trial. Derek is angry with her for a few episodes, but considering that she ruined his trial, got him blacklisted by the FDA, and jeopardized their adoption of Zola, he got over it amazingly fast. The rest of the cast, minus Bailey, is more angry with Alex, for speaking up about what he knew. And Bailey is treated like she is unreasonable for being angry with Meredith, and for not wanting her to work on her diabetes trial - which is very rich, considering that what Meredith did was tamper with a medical trial. It's also rather hard to believe that the board would believe Webber when he says that he was the one who messed with the trial and Meredith was covering for him, given that the whole thing came to light because Alex witnessed Meredith doing it.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Dr. Thomas in season 9. It helps that he was played by William Daniels.
    • Bokhee the scrub nurse is absurdly popular with fans, despite being a background OR character with maybe six lines total over the first 14 seasons and no one being entirely sure how to spell her name or ever who played her note  for many years. She actually has the sixth-highest episode count of any character! Season 15's Christmas episodenote  actually showed her outside the hospital and introduced her husband.
    • Cristina Yang, notably for her Surrounded by Idiots reactions, Brutal Honesty, and being one of the first characters to give a "Reason You Suck" Speech to someone's tactlessness. Even best friend Meredith isn't immune to these!
    • Steve Mostow in some circles, mostly for being the Hero of Another Story that puts most of the show's soapier subplots to shame, and hangs a huge lampshade on it in the process.
    • Addison Montgomery, who seemed to be the only character who saw through the "McDreamy" idolization of Derek (according to fans Strangled by the Red String), and was also self-aware. Kate Walsh's comedy background may have helped Addison Win Back the Crowd from not viewing her as The Baroness of the Meredith and Derek love triangle.
    • Tom Koracick. His snark immediately won over fans and has a vast amount of Hidden Depths.
    • Lexie's eagerness to please, social awkwardness and caring sincerity made her one of the most well-liked characters in the show's history, and carried the light-hearted moments.
  • Fan Nickname: The first batch of interns are referred to by the fandom as MAGIC: Meredith, Alex, George, Izzie, Cristina.
  • Growing the Beard: Grows it (season 2), shaves it off (season 4), grows it again (season 6 finale, widely seen as revitalizing the show), shaves it off again (season 8 finale/season 9 premier, in which Lexie and Mark are killed off), starts to grow it yet again (season 11) and then shaves it off dry ( the death of Derek Shepherd).
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In the Season Six Finale episodes, one of Grey's infamous periodic disasters (this time a shooting), Meredith is explaining to Cristina what being the godmother to her child means, to which Cristina replies, "OK, so, if you and Derek are in a plane crash and die, the kid is mine?", happy that they're placing so much trust in her. It's a joking line, if a bit dark, but it's placed firmly in this category once the next disaster to strike the Grey's team comes along: a plane crash. In which Cristina, Derek, and Meredith are all involved and injured. Oh, and Lexie is killed.
    • Later, as the two roam the halls, they speculate on what trigger the lockdown. Cristina suggests the possibility of an axe murderer on the loose.
      Meredith: Axe murderer would be fun.
    • In an extremely similar example, when Cristina is asked to be Sofia's godmother, Meredith tries to dissuade her by telling her that in that case, three people would have to die before she got the baby. Two of those people are involved in the plane crash, and one of them does die.
      • It gets even worse. Meredith specifically talks about her and Derek dying in a car crash. Derek dies in a car crash a few seasons later
    • In the season 8 Valentine's Day episode, Lexie debates with herself on whether or not to tell Mark that she's still in love with him. She makes a crack about how she better do it because "if you don't say it, you bleed out and die." Guess who gets crushed by a plane a few episodes later?
    • The king of this trope for this series: Season 1, Episode 1: George and Meredith sitting outside the hospital during their first 48 hour shift of their residency. George asks Meredith: "We're going to survive this, right?" She doesn't answer him.
    • In the sixth episode Izzie teases George that he needs to ask Meredith out before he dies. George yells back "I'm not dying!" He dies in the season five finale and no, he never did ask Meredith out. However, he did sleep with her, she cried, it was very awkward, and he ended up meeting Callie and getting over Meredith.
    • Much earlier than any of that, dating back to the very first episode(!), Burke's treatment of George is... difficult to watch without being reminded that Isaiah Washington was later fired for comments he made about T.R. Knight. Seriously, he does everything but explicitly call him gay.
    • In season 2 when the interns are working on Denny alone, Meredith asserts that "no-one is leaving and no-one is dying" — a Meaningful Echo comes many seasons later in season 9 with Meredith saying that "everyone is leaving and everyone is dying": at this point, every single person she had spoken to the first time had either left (Izzie and Cristina) or died (Denny and George).
    • Derek in season 2 when a restaurant gets shot up reflecting on how awful it is to just be at work one minute and having a bullet in you the next is harsher when you learn that his dad died by a shooter coming into his shop and shooting him in front of Derek and Amelia — and then worse come season 6 when a shooter comes into the hospital looking for Derek himself.
    • Just a few episodes before the shooting, Cristina is working on an injured police officer and comments "Could you imagine going to work everyday knowing you're going to end up on the wrong side of a gun?" Yeah, about that....
  • "Disarm," the episode that aired on 6 January 2011, revolved around a shooting at a college committed by a student named Jared. Two days later, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire on an Arizona political event, killing six and injuring thirteen others.
  • In a season 5 episode, Arizona says to Alex, "I wish that you could just get organs delivered instead of having to go and pick them up, you know? I hate flying. I always feel much closer to death on a plane than I do in the OR." Come the end of season 8, it turns out her fear was justified. At least they weren't going to pick up organs on that flight.
  • Many things that Derek says, especially to Meredith, in retrospect of his death, but a speech he makes saying "I want to grow old with you. I want us until we're 110 and gross and stinky, I want all of that with you" takes the cake.
  • There is an episode where Arizona grows a new trachea for a young girl with cancer, which is rather uncomfortable to watch in light of the Paolo Macchiarini scandal.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • One Season 6 episode dealt with a morbidly obese patient who was too big to fit in the scan machine. Dr. Percy suggested to get the patient to the Zoo hospital and use one of their scans, which Dr. Bailey immediately rejected and fired Percy from the case. A few years before this episode aired, Scrubs dealt with the same issue, except they decided they should use the Zoo scan, and calling out the patient on his irresponsible behavior.
    • In season 4, Erica Hahn returns to perform a heart surgery, which Izzie and Cristina immediately volunteer to scrub in on. Hahn tells Cristina she won't be able to impress Hahn by sleeping with her (like Burke and Marlow) because Hahn dates men. Try not to laugh at this scene after you've heard Hahn's | Leaves on Trees speech from the following season.
    • Another in-show example: in Season 9, the new interns are inquiring to Jo about how Owen felt her up, and Stephanie gets behind Leah and grabs her breasts, with not only no opposition, but a little help and a glance from Leah. This was quite a while before Leah decided If It's Arizona It's Okay.
    • The Callie and Arizona debate on kids when you look at their real life, Sara Ramirez having no children and Jessica Capshaw having 4... 5? A lot. Arizona's hyperbolic speech about having "all kinds of kids" and "our ten kids" with Callie is also Fridge Humor if you know that Capshaw actually has ten younger siblings, some of whom are Jewish, Catholic, black, foreign, etc.
    • Eight years before Five Feet Apart Grey's had two cystic fibrosis patients in love with each other in Season 7's "Not Responsible"
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight:
    • In mid-Season 10 Cristina is making an online dating profile for Owen and asks him to describe his perfect woman. What he says could mostly be a description of Cristina (and given both how much Owen loved her and how he left "wants kids" off the list probably intentionally is). Who else fits Owen's description almost perfectly (and seems to eventually want kids)? Callie, his friend and in "if/Then" his wife and his later love interest Dr. Amelia Shepherd, who fits the description perfectly
    • In Season 7 a gay couple has an accident when getting their papers for a civil union and one of the partners has a long speech about how he's fought for the right to get married but it isn't legal in Washington state. A few years later, Washington becomes one of the first states to allow marriage equality.
  • Ho Yay: Almost every male character has at least one questionable moment per… almost every other male character.
    • In one episode Sloan and Derek fight over Avery in a way that is very reminiscent of men fighting over a girl. Lampshaded by Alex who jokes that they are arguing over who can take him to prom.
    • One episode has Jackson break up with Lexie because he has chosen Mark over her. Though he wanted Mark as a mentor and friend and dating Mark's ex made it difficult to get close to him.
    • Alex and George. We're treated to such lovely scenes as George dropping his pants for Alex to inspect his junk close-up, and later George tackling Alex shouting "You gave me syphilis!" (Now, the fact that he meant that he got it from a woman Alex had previously slept with isn't of any relevance here).'
  • 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.
    • In general, however, the show rarely bothers to touch this trope at all. Most of the show's less conventionally attractive characters (and there's no reason to name any names) have no problem getting just as many dates as their hot coworkers. Turns out, people can also be drawn to a person's personality, kindness, intelligence and/or ambition, not just their outward appearance.
  • Informed Wrongness:
    • Owen is called out by Amelia for not going to see his ex-girlfriend while she is going through severe depression. When he points out that she cheated on him, and that he is in no way obligated to see her, Amelia brings up how people forgave him for accidentally choking his girlfriend while waking up from a PTSD nightmare. Not only are these two scenarios completely different, but his ex-girlfriend cheated on Owen by her own volition, and her bout of depression is completely unrelated. When Owen calls her out for bringing that up so casually (let alone at all), she retorts that she isn’t saying it casually, and Owen agrees to go see his ex. Aside from the Insane Troll Logic that Owen’s PTSD is at all comparable to being a cheater, bringing up someone’s mental disorder to make a point is extremely disrespectful.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Alex, before moving on to Stoic Woobie. His nickname for the first while was "Evil Spawn", or occasionally "Dr. Evil Spawn", but later seasons make you feel for the guy.
  • Les Yay: When Maggie gets stoned on weed cookies, the first thing she does is start rambling to Jo about how pretty she is.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: The plane crash left Derek's hand damaged, so he was unable to do surgery, most likely forever. Several months, and surgeries, later and he appears to be making a full recovery. That said, the whole plane crash arc was an exercise in averting the trope. Lexie and Mark both died, Arizona lost a leg, and she, Cristina and Meredith all hit their lowest points and required varying degrees of very hard work to deal with their trauma.
  • Moe: Lexie Grey (aka: "Little Grey"). Yeah, the one with the juice box... Not a virgin, but about as pure as a character can get on this show.
  • Moral Event Horizon: For some, Dr. Bailey boasting about being the doctor who cured fistulas - by copying what one of the nurses was already doing, because he knew that it worked. She didn't make any discoveries on her own, or even try any approaches on her own. She just took the credit for the nurse's discovery, because apparently it only counts if a doctor gets the credit.
    • Izzie very clearly crosses the line when she tampers with an organ transplant list so that her patient (who she is in love with) will be saved instead of the father of three ahead of him on the list. The only bit of retribution she gets for this is that the man she tried to save dies of a stroke shortly afterwards.
    • Meredith crosses it a couple of times. First by tampering with the Alzheimer's trial and then acting shocked and wronged when she gets fired and puts the blame entirely on Alex, who caught her in the act and reported it. Second with her behaviour when Derek dies. She had ample time to call Amelia and let her say goodbye, in fact she had time to call Derek's entire family (and even Addison) but she didn't. Later on when Callie brings home her new girlfriend Penny, the resident who was unable to save Derek's life, she initially doesn't say anything but when she finds out that Penny is coming to work at Grey Sloan she declares to the room full of people that Penny killed Derek, even though Meredith of all people should know that's no more true than it is to say Meredith killed every patient that died under her care. Unsurprisingly, Amelia doesn't react well to this. She is very hurt and when she questions why Meredith didn't tell her right away but instead let her chat with (and even hug) Penny, Meredith responds by being outraged, screaming that Amelia has no right to feel bad because Meredith lost her husband and the father of her children, and she even screams at Owen to get Amelia out of the house before Meredith kills her. Grief can do odd things to a person and we definitely don't act rationally when we're grieving, but Meredith acts as if she, and only she, has lost something (she rarely even says her children lost their father but that she lost the father of her children, making it about her and her feelings). Meredith made Amelia's grief so much worse and barely ever cared, and then screamed at Amelia's face that she wanted to kill her for having the audacity to grieve as well.
  • Narm: Meredith's crying when she finds Lexie dead under plane wreckage which is weird seeing as she's had some non-narmy crying scenes in the past. It's also hard not to cringe and/or laugh during the season six finale when Mer cries over Derek in the operating room in the most unauthentic, overblown fashion possible.
  • Narm Charm: The musical episode is full of this. It's hard to take it seriously when the characters sing pop songs that only vaguely connect to what is going on, but at the same time it'squite endearing.
  • One True Pairing: These days, virtually everybody ships Meredith/Derek (MerDer).
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Izzie's cancer subplot granted her a brief reprieve from the bile that was coming from mostly everyone at the time, but as the subplot dragged on and on and it became clear that she would be undergoing very little Character Development, she became less sympathetic again. Katherine Heigl's frankly obnoxious wishy-washy behavior during the sixth season (forcing everyone to accommodate her schedule, refusing to give a definitive answer to anyone about whether or not she was staying with the show, forcing a large number of re-writes when she asked to be let out of her contract before she could be written out for real at the end of the season) pretty much sealed the deal regarding how everyone feels about the character.
    • Of the five new interns introduced in season 9, Jo is the only one who's managed to find some fans (read: the only one who is not absolutely despised), thanks to her interesting backstory and her storylines as an intern/resident being funny rather than frustrating as they usually are for rookie characters. Not to mention her chemistry with Alex.
  • Retroactive Recognition: If you've ever watched television, its basically impossible to watch the show and not recognize the actor playing the Patient of the Week regularly. Much like Law & Order, this is the inevitable result of needing new faces every week for the main characters to treat.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Izzie, due to some combination of: the Idiot Ball moment with the LVAD wire; being a Karma Houdini re: same; being the person George cheated on Callie with; the actual George/Izzie romance, after a year of drawn-out love-triangle, being a complete dud; and Character Shilling.
    • Each one of the five new interns introduced in Season 9 was this for somebody, but now that only two remain, Stephanie is getting the brunt of the negative feedback (Jo is a little more of a Base-Breaking Character and does have her fans). The majority of viewers find the character flat and one-dimensional and are not happy that she's stealing the spotlight with her resident plotline, while Jo's only storyline continues to be her relationship with Alex. And then there are the Jackson/April shippers...
    • Callie in season 12. Many fans were disgusted by her behavior towards Arizona, particularly forcing her to go to court over custody for Sofia, arguing that she's Sofia's true mother because she gave birth to her, and playing the victim card when Arizona ultimately wins custody.
    • Eliza Minnick in season 13.
    • Maggie. A number of fans saw her as a poor replacement for Lexie and Cristina. The constant Character Shilling didn't help matters. And then she started dating Jackson.
    • Owen, due to his self-righteous and aggressive behaviour, and his tendency to treat the women in his life like crap and cheat on his partners. Despite this, the other characters talk about what a great guy he is; after blowing up at two of his wives for not wanting children, he is rewarded with not one but two babies by Season 16; and Teddy, whom he strung along for years, agrees to marry him.
  • Seasonal Rot: Most fans agree that the show hit this by Season 6 at the latest, and some will tell you it set in as early as Season 4. The situation did eventually rectify itself, and most fans think very highly of Seasons 7 and 8. The later seasons, however, are more divisive in this regard (especially due to the plane crash at the beginning of Season 9 killing Mark and Lexie, Cristina leaving at the end of Season 10, and Derek dying in late Season 11) and how good they were is subjective.
  • Ships That Pass in the Night: Alex/Meredith definitely has its share of fans, despite their only romantic interaction being in the Alternate Reality Episode. Having said that, they are very close.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • The CG for the helicopter in helipad scenes is abysmally bad.
    • The crowd holding a candle-lit vigil outside the hospital in the college shooting episode is a small group of people copied and pasted. Several people in the crowd are standing next to their clones.
    • Shows up a lot with abysmal green screens. The most noticeable ones are the scenery around Derek's house as he builds it and the background for the hospital roof and helicopter which look very fake.
    • The fire and smoke in the last two episodes of season 13. It's real, but how controlled it is, well, you can tell easily there's no real danger.
  • Squick: In Season 4's "Forever Young", a cheerleader is amongst the casualties in a bus crash, with a damaged face and "a broken butt" that needs surgery. Alex, at one point makes a comment about seeing a "hot cheerleader ass". Said cheerleader is a teenager.
  • Stoic Woobie: Cristina, who was damaged quite significantly by her father's death... in her hands. Alex moves to this after spending a while as the resident Jerkass Woobie.
    • And season 7 has Cristina even more Woobie-ish after having a Heroic BSoD during an operation when a loud bang from an accident paralyzes her with fear, as a result of the hospital shooting. And more recently, her going practically catatonic in season 9 for weeks after the plane crash.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Jackson and April had apparently been best friends and in love with each other for years before hooking up, despite the fact there was no indication of either of those things for their first year and a half on the show, wherein they barely interacted. April's best friend was her roommate Reed, and Jackson was a little busy crushing on Lexie (and briefly Cristina) to have been harboring feelings for anyone else. But after they were the only Mercy Westers left after Reed and Charles had gone to heaven, suddenly they were always incredibly close.
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • Richard telling Leah Murphy that she'll never be a good surgeon and firing her, even if he did do it rather gently. Even when they brought her back, she was only used as a plot device and disappeared to the bowels of Grey-Sloan after 2 episodes.
    • Reed Adamson getting shot in the head after being cold and rude to the wrong person. The only tragic thing about it was April's breakdown upon finding her body, but then again, fans weren't exactly crazy about her at the time either.
    • In Izzie's last episode, she attempts to reconcile with Alex after finally being ruled cancer-free, and he very calmly calls her out on her incredibly selfish behavior during their marriage and tells her that she would be better off just leaving and starting again somewhere else. Fans felt the same, and evidently so did Katherine Heigl, who asked to be let out of her contract a few weeks later before she could be properly written out in the last quarter of the season.
    • Eliza Minnick is fired at the end of season 13. Come season 14, she breaks up with Arizona in the shittiest way possible, and nobody has anything nice to say about the changes she implemented. Webber and Bailey are particularly scornful.
    • In the episode where Ellis Grey has a short period of lucidity from her Alzheimer's, she's talking to Derek about options, asking for another CAT Scan and MRI, etc. Derek calmly tells her that these periods of lucidity are not uncommon, it won't last, new tests won't tell them anything, there aren't any treatment options, and there's nothing he can do. While he's telling her all this, his expression and body language is as indifferent and neutral as if he was ordering a cheeseburger. Given the way he's seen and heard about how poorly she treated Meredith, and that he also knows what a miserable person she is, it's plain he doesn't give a damn about her or her condition and he's only going through the motions because it's his job.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Dr. Thomas, who was a good friend and mentor to Christina, even better than Teddy was.
    • An earlier episode had Dr. Stark, Arizona's replacement for a bit, who was a bit of a jerk, but the first Only Sane Man they've had on the show since Erica was Put on a Bus.
    • George. In the first few seasons he was the sweetest, most idealistic character on the show. All he had to do is sleep with Meredith ONCE, to finally convince him she wasn't into him, and it completely shattered his character. He became a cynical, out-and-out Jerkass overnight, sleepwalking through relationships with Callie, Lexie and Izzie, and falling behind in his work for no reason. And then they completely abandoned doing ANYTHING with him at all, to the point that C-Plots with him just involved him staring at the Case Of The Week and occasionally saying his lines. And THEN when T.R. Knight finally got fed up with it all, and could you blame him, they were prepared to put George on a bus, then pulled the old Bus Crash and killed him horribly and unnecessarily.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • The show has never been shy about showcasing Meredith's angst (or, less charitably Wangst) about a wide variety of personal drama, so it felt especially strange that her reaction to something that everybody could agree was worthy of a deep reaction, the death of her husband, was almost totally glossed over, especially given that the episode following it was two hours long but barely featured her.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Addison is initially hated by everyone at Seattle Grace, but loved enough by the audience to get her own show.
  • Wangst: Meredith spends over half of Season 2 doing this after losing Derek to Addison.
  • Win Back the Crowd: After a really mediocre year (or, as a lot of fans would tell you, mediocre three years), the Season 6 finale breathed new life into the show and it entered a second golden age. And, after the highly divisive ninth and tenth seasons, the eleventh seemed to be making a bid to rescue the show again, with some truly quality writing and an overall less bleak tone until the death of Derek at the end destroying many fans' faith in the series.
  • The Woobie:
    • Most of the characters in the series qualify, but most notable are Meredith, Lexie, and George.
    • Owen in seasons 8/9: Stressful job that he's really unprepared for, loses his best friend, his marriage is falling apart partly due to the abortion, becomes The Scapegoat being blamed for the plane crash which causes him to lose another friend and his part in it may cause the hospital to go bankrupt.
    • Amelia Sheperd. Between her tragic backstory when she was little, the horrific events of Private Practice, and in season 11 the death of Derek, her life has been nothing but tragedies. As she sarcastically puts it:
    Amelia: Thank you, universe!

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