Grey’s Anatomy is one of television’s longest running medical shows. Now in its fourteenth season — with Ellen Pompeo having agreed to at least two more — the show found a way to maintain its freshness and stay relevant.
Much of that is due both to Shonda Rhimes and the cast of characters involved in the series. From original characters like Meredith Grey, Alex Karev, and Miranda Bailey, to people who came later on like Jackson Avery, April Kepner, and Jo Wilson, new voices and storylines made an impact on the show and created more drama to invest in.
As impressive as the show’s run has been, plenty of viewers have had time to create their own opinions and criticisms of the show. All art is subjective, and people are entitled to their perspectives, especially when it comes to a show as expansive as Grey’s.
However, there are some misconceptions or assumptions out there regarding the show that don’t hold as much weight as people often give them. This could relate to how a character is perceived, the storylines they have, or relationships on the show in general.
This article aims to clear the air about some of these misconceptions. Here are 15 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Grey’s Anatomy.
15. Derek Shepherd wasn’t so McDreamy
Fans always seem to view Derek Shepherd as the golden standard when it comes to finding your “true love.” After all, he is one half of “MerDer,” the show’s most iconic couple, and “McDreamy.”
When looking back on Derek’s history on the show though, he has done some things that really should have made Meredith take a step back and question their relationship. For starters, Derek was married when he and Meredith first hooked up. Granted, Addison cheated on Derek first, but doesn’t that make him a hypocrite for fleeing to Seattle and doing the same thing?
Derek also more or less shamed Meredith for sleeping with other men following their break-up, especially after Meredith slept with George. He also emotionally (and physically) cheats on Meredith by kissing one of his interns while working in DC. That’s not what a soulmate does!
14. Derek’s passing was not Penny Blake’s fault
Derek’s death was obviously one of the more emotional ones of the show, and had a profound impact on Meredith. Although neither Meredith nor any of the main cast members were there at the time of Derek’s death, there was a resident who was: Penny Blake.
Penny was one of the doctors who assessed Derek after he gets hit by a truck. In the season 12 episode, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, Meredith recognizes Penny from the hospital.
It’s clear that Meredith blames Penny for Derek’s death.
This is unfair, because Derek’s death wasn’t Penny’s fault. She suggested to her superior that they get Derek a head CT, but no one listened to her. Even Derek’s voiceover thoughts indicate that she is the only doctor who knows what she’s doing in treating him. Penny didn’t deserve that burden of guilt.
13. Cristina Yang did come to Derek’s funeral
Cristina Yang was Meredith’s “Person” for ten seasons. When Sandra Oh didn’t return to the show for Derek’s funeral to support Meredith, it raised some questions about the pair’s friendship.
However, when looking at the funeral scene, a woman with long, wavy black hair can be seen sitting next to Meredith and she looks on at Derek’s casket. Kevin McKidd confirmed that this was indeed Cristina Yang.
Although her face is never seen, and Oh doesn’t reprise the role, this woman is meant to be a stand-in for Cristina to indicate that their friendship was still going strong despite the fact that Cristina is no longer a constant presence on the show anymore. It remains to be seen whether Oh will ever reprise her role, but the showrunners were able to get creative with this scene.
12. Cristina’s breakup with Preston Burke was inevitable
Meredith wasn’t the only intern to fall for an attending doctor. Cristina developed a romantic relationship with cardiothoracic surgeon Preston Burke.
The two seemed like a good match at first, especially considering Cristina would go on to become a great cardiothoracic surgeon in her own right. Yet, moments before they are supposed to get married, Burke walks out on her, leaving her heartbroken.
There were signs leading up to this moment.
After Burke gets shot, Cristina helps cover up for him in surgery, something no intern should have to do. She changes certain parts of her lifestyle to appease Burke, and even gets her eyebrows shaved before their wedding.
11. Owen Hunt isn’t a good guy
It’s easy to get caught up in Owen Hunt’s charisma. Much like Derek, though, Owen doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to the women in his life.
Owen and Cristina develop a strong relationship. However, their differing life goals put a strain on their marriage. This leads Owen to physically cheat on Cristina with another woman, telling Cristina it hurts him to love her. Not to mention, he also emotionally cheats on Cristina when Teddy Altman joins the picture.
Not only was Owen horrible to Cristina, but he also cheats on his second wife, Amelia, by kissing Teddy.
This happens during Amelia’s struggle with her brain tumor. Granted, they weren’t on the best terms at the time, but Owen should have tried harder to be there for the people he loves. His judgmental and selfish personality makes him anything but a good guy.
10. April Kepner is one of the most dynamic characters
April often comes up in conversations of the worst characters on Grey’s. On the surface, she may seem whiny, but this reputation is unwarranted given the struggles she’s gone through.
April joined the show with the other residents from Mercy West. At the time, she was a perky, highly religious individual. She rises up from her failure to save a patient, talks her way out of getting shot by the Seattle Grace gunman, and becomes Chief resident. She questions her faith by hooking up with Jackson Avery and endures heartbreaking death of her first child, followed by a divorce from Jackson — who still strings her along emotionally to this day.
April’s evolution resulted in a complete 180-degree turn from where she was at the start of the show.
9. The show is about more than relationships
When people think of Grey’s Anatomy, they probably think about the melodrama or the on-call room hook-ups. That’s certainly part of it, but the show is about so much more.
At the beginning of the series, the show seemed to be about Meredith Grey and her struggle to balance her feelings for Derek with her working life. This creates plenty of drama for viewers, making them invest in the “will they/won’t they” suspense of all the relationships on the show.
Storylines like those can only be sustained for so long before they become stale.
The reason Grey’s remains on the air is because it tackles more than just relationship issues. In recent seasons especially, the show has dealt with domestic abuse, racism and made an effort to empower its female characters. It stays fresh by dealing with relevant issues within and outside of relationships.
8. The show botched Alex Karev’s arc
In season one, Alex Karev starts out as a stereotypical jerk who doesn’t play nice with the other interns. Now, he and Meredith are the only two original interns left. It’s a shame that the showrunners overshadow these points by plaguing him with unfortunate storylines.
Alex came a long way, proving to be a damaged man with a heart of gold. This is the Alex we want to root for. When Alex beats Andrew DeLuca until he’s close to death because he thought DeLuca was trying to assault Jo Wilson, it undos all of that growth Alex went through.
After so many seasons, Alex should be better than that.
The show recently went through an arc about Jo’s abusive husband. Why, then, would they want to show that Alex, who is in love with Jo, is also capable of physical violence? These decisions failed Alex’s character.
7. The first three seasons equals one year
A common tactic on shows is to equate one season with one year to simplify the timeline. Grey’s seems to do this now for the most part, but it rolled the first three seasons of the show into one year of real time.
The first three seasons cover Meredith’s internship year.
At the end of season three, the group of interns take their test, which George ultimately fails.
This means that all of the events of the first three seasons occur very close together in the timeline. Cristina’s relationship with Burke, Addison’s arrival and departure, Meredith’s drowning, Lexie Grey’s arrival, and Denny Duquette’s death all take place in the same year. That’s a whole lot of developments for one year. It just doesn’t feel that way because viewers had three years to process it all.
6. Meredith Grey and Nathan Rigg’s relationship made sense
After Derek’s death, Meredith understandably goes through a long grieving process to cope with her loss. When Nathan Riggs joins the Grey-Sloan Memorial staff, she slowly opens up to the possibility of love again.
Meredith didn’t need a new love interest — and based on a recent interview, Ellen Pompeo agrees — but narratively, it makes sense that Meredith would connect to Nathan. Like Meredith, Nathan lost the love of his life when Megan Hunt, Owen’s sister, supposedly died. This common ground helped them build a genuine relationship, even if it wasn’t as deep as Meredith and Derek’s relationship.
When Nathan learns that Megan is actually alive, his relationship with Meredith comes to an end. Meredith isn’t saddened by this because she would have done the same thing if it were Derek. Though their relationship was short-lived, they helped fill in each other’s gaps in a way that made sense.
5. George O’Malley was the best resident
George O’Malley continues to be a fan favorite of the series, and his death remains one of the most emotional losses.
He was the best because he had the most well-rounded skill set.
It’s true that George failed his internship test, but Meredith should have, too. She receives an unfair advantage over George, who passes his test on the second try like she did. George is the most charismatic of the interns, giving him the best bedside manner. Cristina — the smartest resident — lacks this quality.
He is also calm under pressure. When he, Alex, and a dying patient become trapped in an elevator, George steps up to take control over the situation. This proves his aptitude for Trauma, were he likely would have given April and Owen a run for their money.
4. Meredith’s relationship with her mother is very complicated
When it comes to Meredith’s mother, Ellis Grey, it’s easy to make a snap judgement that she was either a good mother or a bad one. In diving deeper, though, things are not so black and white.
Early in the series, Meredith must cope with her mother’s dementia. The show reveals later that Meredith’s mother seemed to value her medical career over her child, putting pressure on Meredith to be more than just “ordinary.”
Through Meredith’s exploration of her mother’s past, she learns that they are not so different.
Ellis struggled with heartbreak and loss just like Meredith, which helps Meredith understand how her mother became who she was.
When Meredith wins the Harper Avery award, she imagines her mother proudly looking down at her. She also names her third child “Ellis” after her mother, indicating the profound influence she had on Meredith’s life, for better or worse.
3. Izzie Stevens would have been fired before she cut the LVAD wire
It has developed into somewhat of a meme now, but when Izzie cut Denny’s LVAD wire to try to move him up on the transplant list, it creates a slew of ethical and medical problems.
As dramatic as this moment was, it never would have happened under more realistic circumstances.
In a real hospital, Izzie and Denny would never have been allowed to form a romantic relationship. If they had, Izzie, a low-ranking intern, would have probably been fired, meaning that infamous LVAD wire would have remained intact.
For that matter, a lot of characters probably should have gotten fired for their relationships, including Alex’s relationship with amnesia patient Ava/Rebecca.
2. You can have more than one “Person”
One of the more popular concepts to come out of Grey’s is the idea of having a “Person.” As Cristina Yang iconically puts it when talking about Meredith, “If I murdered someone, she’s the person I’d call to help me drag the corpse across the living room floor. She’s my person.”
Everyone has a “Person,” and for awhile, Meredith and Cristina were each other’s. Characters don’t need to limit themselves to one “Person,” though. When Cristina leaves, Alex fills that roll for Meredith, and Meredith even offers to fill it for Owen. Jo and Stephanie even develop a relationship like this. One could also argue that Meredith and Alex step up to be Jo’s person when her abusive husband reappears.
1. Miranda Bailey and Ben Warren are the strongest couple the show’s ever had
Meredith and Derek receive all the credit when it comes to the show’s best couple. However, with all their ups and downs, they are not the strongest couple. That title goes to Miranda and Ben.
When Ben first joined the show, he and Miranda developed instant chemistry, and Ben proved to be a much better partner for Miranda than her ex-husband was. They were not without their bumps in the road, particularly after the Seattle Grace shooting, but they maintained their connection and got married.
This remains true even with Ben constantly switching professions — most recently as a firefighter to set up the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, Station 19. Throughout all the deaths, breakups and drama surrounding their relationship, Ben and Miranda always worked things out with a relationship that is strong and loving.
What else do people get wrong about Grey’s Anatomy? Let us know in the comments!
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