Since it premiered in March 2005, the ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy has followed the lives of the staff at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital (formerly known as Seattle Grace Hospital). The series depicts the difficulties that the characters have in trying to balance the demands of their professional lives with their personal lives. The primetime show, currently the second longest-running medical drama ever on American TV, has received multiple accolades. These include the Golden Globe Award for Best TV series (Drama) and multiple Primetime Emmy Award nominations.
Grey’s Anatomy has been favorably received by critics and acquired millions of dedicated fans, who often describe the show as addictive. Unsurprisingly, Grey’s Anatomy has dedicated fans who adore the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, and who are totally immersed in the lives of the characters. As a result, these fans are also the most likely to notice the show’s accumulation of confusing inconsistencies, plot holes, and unresolved mysteries, since its inception more than a decade ago.
While some fans will insist that the flaws do not spoil the show for them, they cannot help the fact that they delight in digging out Grey’s Anatomy’s inconsistencies and berating its creators over them.
Here are the 15 Unresolved Mysteries And Plot Holes From Grey’s Anatomy.
15. Meredith’s Age
Fans have struggled with the inconsistencies about Meredith Grey’s (Ellen Pompeo) age. According to ABC, Meredith’s half-sister, Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary), became head of cardiothoracic surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in 2014, at the age of 31.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2014, McCreary also confirmed that her character was 31 when she became head of cardiothoracic surgery. This means that Maggie was born in 1983 and that she is five years younger than Meredith, as it was confirmed in Season 11 that Meredith was five years old when Maggie was born. This means that Meredith was born in 1978.
However, the script for the pilot contradicts the Season 11 revelation, as it reveals that Meredith was 32 when she started her internship in 2007. Thus, going by the pilot script, Meredith was born in 1975 and is eight years older than Maggie.
14. Maggie Pierce’s Career Timeline
There are fans who have attempted to construct Maggie’s career timeline, based on the information that she became head of cardiothoracic surgery when she was 31 years old and that she started her fellowship at 25.
This led to absurd conclusions about her education and career timelines. For instance, based on the fact that residency in surgery lasts about five years, some fans have pointed out that this implies Maggie graduated from medical school at the age of 19 or 20 and obtained her bachelor’s degree at 15 or 16 years old.
In an attempt to paper over the inconsistencies, some fans suggested it was possible that she did not obtain a bachelor’s degree before going to medical school. However, this is a very rare occurrence and it would probably be known throughout the hospital if Maggie was a child prodigy.
13. The Debt That Izzie Left Alex
A major unresolved mystery in Grey’s Anatomy revolves around Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) paying off the debt for Izzie Stevens’ (Katherine Heigl) cancer treatment, after she left Seattle abruptly in Season 6.
Alex found himself in debt when Izzie left, but the issue was never mentioned again in subsequent episodes of the show. Viewers never learned how Alex resolved the issue, but it is unlikely that he was able to pay it off with his modest pay as a resident.
We learned in Season 10, Episode 21, that Alex left Grey Sloan to join a private practice to make money to settle his school debts. However, Alex was fired soon after he started there and he returned to Grey Sloan as a pediatric surgeon.
12. Jo Wilson’s Name Change
We learned in Season 14 of Grey’s Anatomy that Jo Wilson’s (Camilla Luddington) real name is Brooke Stadler and that she changed her name because she was hiding from her abusive husband, Paul Stadler (Matthew Morrison). When Jo learned that she would testify in the Alex vs. DeLuca case, she became worried that the court records could help Paul track her down.
According to some fans, Jo’s reaction suggested she was illegally using a different name while hiding from Paul Stadler. Fans argued that if her name change had been legal, then her former name wouldn’t have to appear in the court records.
11. Jo’s Reason For Not Accepting Alex’s Marriage Proposal
Jo’s reason for rejecting Alex Karev’s marriage proposal seemed illogical to many fans. After she was subpoenaed in the Alex v. DeLuca case, she told Alex that she couldn’t marry him because she was still married to Paul Stadler.
Grey’s Anatomy fans poked holes in Jo’s argument, saying that if she truly loved Alex the absurdity of her excuses would be obvious to her. There are many different things that Jo should be capable of doing to hide herself form her ex, if marrying Alex was truly her priority.
10. Derek Shepherd’s Tragic Death
Grey’s Anatomy fans were very upset about Derek Shepherd’s (Patrick Dempsey) death and many took to Reddit to vent their frustration. The main complaints were directed at elements of the storyline that they found confusing and illogical.
Many critics described the episode about Derek’s death as the most sloppily written in the entire show. Distraught Grey’s Anatomy fans blamed Derek’s death on the poor medical care he received. The sequence also caused countless questions to be asked. including: How come he did not hear a giant semi-truck approaching? Why didn’t they find his ID? How did his cell phone ring after viewers learned that he took a short cut through a valley with no cell signal?
9. Izzie’s Relationship With Denny’s Ghost
Izzie’s relationship with Denny Duquette’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) ghost in Season 5 of the show remains one of the most controversial episodes in Grey’s Anatomy storyline. The plot was unpopular and widely criticized, although it was later revealed that Izzie had been hallucinating due to a brain tumor.
While Izzie realized that something might be wrong with her when she began seeing Denny, the ghost continued to appear. Many viewers found the scene in which Izzie had an intimate relationship with Denny’s ghost disturbing. The ghost appeared to be warning Izzie of danger and she was eventually diagnosed with skin cancer.
The tests showed that the cancer had spread to her liver and skin and that it was a tumor in her brain that had made her see Denny. Derek performed a successful surgery and Izzie recovered after an initial serious setback.
8. Izzie Cut Denny’s LVAD
Izzie Stevens’ decision in Season 2 to disconnect Denny from his Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) has been widely criticized as “soapy” and unrealistic. Izzie did this in order to make him critically ill and thus enhance his chances of receiving a heart transplant.
Once a heart became available, it was discovered that another patient was next in line for it and that Denny could receive it only if he was in a more critical condition. To ensure that Denny got the heart Izzie lied about his condition and disconnected his LVAD. She was able to secure the heart for Denny, but he died due to other complications.
She later confessed that she was the one who cut the LVAD. However, she managed to get away with it. This should have been an act that stripped her of her medical license and she probably would have been charged with a criminal offense.
7. The Characters Suffered Too Many Disasters
Grey’s Anatomy characters have suffered too many major disasters over a period of just a few years. For instance, it strains credulity to think that Meredith alone could have had multiple close brushes with death — an explosion, a mass shooting, drowning, plane crash, and other multiple personal losses — in less than a decade of her life.
Several other characters also suffered an inexplicable series of tragedies. Some critics joked that Meredith was more likely to have been struck by lightning several times while standing in the same spot.
This would probably be more likely than the multiple catastrophic events she miraculously survived in rapid succession. Some fans have joked that Meredith is suffering from divine judgment for past misdeeds.
6. Too Many Doctors Died
The death rate among the doctors at Seattle Grace Hospital has been unrealistically high. This has caused fans to joke that the mass casualty of doctors should have caused the staff to believe that the hospital was jinxed.
Heather Brooks (Tina Majorino) died from electrocution in Season 10 of Grey’s Anatomy after accidentally stepping into an electrified puddle. Several highly skilled medical personnel perished in a plane crash, including Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh). George O’Malley (T.R. Knight) was hit by a bus in Season 5. Derek Shepherd died in a car crash and Denny Duquette died after a heart transplant.
There’s also Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) who died in Season 9 and Reed Adamson (Nora Zehetner) and Charles Percy (Robert Baker) were shot dead in Season 6. You’d think that the surviving doctors would have consequently feared for their lives and sought employment elsewhere.
5. Denny Left Izzie $8.7 Million
The Season 3, Episode 4 story that Denny left Izzie $8.7 million seemed to be an afterthought. There was never a hint or suggestion that Denny might be wealthy when he was alive. Some fans wondered why he did not use his money to get better medical care.
After keeping the inheritance check at home for several weeks without depositing it, Izzie finally decided to use most of the money to fund the clinic that was originally established by Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson). Miranda then renamed the clinic Denny Duquette Memorial Clinic.
Before Izzie’s decision to use her money to fund the clinic, which was part of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, it was having serious funding problems. This was partly due to the fact that some of the senior medical staff were skeptical of its viability and did not offer support.
4. Meredith Won The Harper Avery Award
Meredith was nominated for the prestigious Harper Avery Award in Season 14, Episode 6 of Grey’s Anatomy and she even went on to win the award in the next episode. Fans had previously been told that no doctor at Seattle Grace Hospital would ever win the award due to a conflict of interest issue — Harper Avery Foundation co-owns the hospital.
However, when Meredith won the award it appeared that the higher-ups had decided that working at Grey Sloan Memorial wasn’t a conflict of interest after all. Earlier in Season 10, during the episode “Change of Heart”, Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) was nominated for the award, but Catherine Avery (Debbie Allen) told Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.) that Yang could not win.
3. Izzie Disappeared Mysteriously And No One Seemed To Care
The mystery of Izzie’s sudden disappearance from Seattle, after she recovered from cancer, is widely considered a major Grey’s Anatomy plot hole. Some fans thought that she might have died from her diagnosis in Season 5, seeing as no one seemed to care that she left unannounced.
Although we know that Izzie did not come back because Katherine Heigl left the show, the show seems to have simply abandoned Izzie’s storyline.
Izzie was fired from surgery after committing an error during treatment of a kidney patient. She returned in Season 6, but Alex told her that he had moved on. Alex does later make a reference to her again in Season 14, when he tells Jo that he believes Izzie is married with kids. The show never formally cleared the air about what happened to her.
2. Medical Mistakes, Unethical Behavior And Malpractice
Grey’s Anatomy is filled with instances of dangerous professional mistakes, unethical behavior, and malpractice. Critics of the show have noted how the doctors casually flout some of the most time-honored ethical rules of the profession. The staff is not only constantly hooking up with each other, but they have also included their patients in some of their escapades.
In an article published on Slate, two medical professionals, Ingrid Katz and Alexi Wright, pointed to examples of “egregious” errors in the show. One example is when Cristina insensitively approaches the grieving wife of a dead patient and asks her to donate her husband’s organs — the purpose being to save a dying friend of the chief of surgery.
The medical professionals pointed out that Grey’s Anatomy misrepresented the procedure for obtaining organs and that the misrepresentation could compromise efforts to encourage people to donate organs.
1. Burke Calls Off Wedding As Cristina Walks Down The Aisle
For some fans, one of the most shocking moments in Grey’s Anatomy — after Derek’s death of course — was Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) abandoning Cristina as she prepared to walk down the aisle on their wedding day. Burke had proposed marriage and Cristina accepted. Additionally, although Cristina only wanted a small wedding, a big one was planned.
On the wedding day, as she prepared to walk down the aisle, Burke thought he noticed Cristina was hesitant and concluded she was having second thoughts. Thus, he went to her and apologized for imposing himself on her. He then canceled the wedding and left.
It later emerged that Burke was written out of the show after Washington used a homophobic slur in reference to T.R. Knight. This happened during an on-set quarrel with Patrick Dempsey. This forced Shonda Rhimes and ABC to fire him.
Did we miss any other unresolved mysteries and plot holes from Grey’s Anatomy? Let us know in the comments!
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