The TDF Top 10: Grey's Anatomy
Our latest TDF Top 10 heads to Seattle to look at the very best episodes of long-running medical drama Grey's Anatomy...
Who doesn’t love a good medical drama? Created originally by Shonda Rhimes, Grey’s Anatomy has graced our screens for a whopping 16 seasons, with a 17th season confirmed but without a release date as of yet, due to the ongoing global pandemic. Following the career and relationship drama of Meredith Grey and her fellow doctors and interns at the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, Grey’s Anatomy is often hailed as one of the best shows on air, with its inspired casting choices, heart-pounding drama and its tendency to bring forth timely issues.
There's a lot to unpick across it's 16-season run and here I present the very best in The TDF Top 10: Grey’s Anatomy...
10. Bring The Pain (2.05)
Also known as the “heart in the elevator” episode and featuring Meredith’s equally iconic and cringeworthy “Pick me. Choose Me. Love Me” speech, Bring The Pain is an excellent example of a top Grey’s Anatomy episode. It simply has it all; bloody, rogue surgery in an elevator, quirky medical cases and heart wrenching romance. It might not have aged particularly well, but it still remains an exemplary episode of the medical drama.
9. How To Save A Life (11.21)
The episode we all love and hate. How To Save A Life was destined to go down as a controversial episode. Killing off one of your most loved characters and the biggest romantic lead in television at the time was bound to shake some feathers, but it also does it brilliantly. Derek Shepherd’s death was traumatic and devastating for Meredith and viewers, but by doing almost the entire episode from his perspective, the episode also highlighted the ways hospitals often are bound by their lack of resources and training.
8. Sweet Surrender (5.20)
Sometimes less is more. Sweet Surrender is a low-key episode and probably not particularly memorable although it does dig into Izzie’s brutal and gruelling chemo therapy and its side effects. The episode’s best quality however, is Bailey’s paediatrics case which includes a dying child. There will never be anything sadder than a parent having to say goodbye to their child and in this case, young Jessica is terminally ill but her father Matt is still fighting to take her to Mexico for an experimental treatment. Bailey’s insistence that the time to fight is over and its time to just hold Jessica, will never fail to break this critic into a million pieces.
7. I Saw What I Saw (6.06)
One of the more experimental episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, I Saw What I Saw ends in the shocking firing of April who failed to diagnose a woman correctly with fatal consequences. The episode is frantic and events are played back again and again, from different angles and perspectives as all the doctors face Richard Webber’s questioning. It’s a brilliantly creative way to also show the chaos inside an ER, how many cooks there are in these kitchens and the potential consequences of that.
6. As We Know It (2.17)
Part two of the shocking and exciting bomb situation Meredith and co. faced in season two. While As We Know It doesn’t do anything particularly different or experimental with its narrative, it’s one of the earliest examples of the series’ insistence of making the doctors face extraordinary circumstances and examining basic human troubles through them. It’s not enough to have strange, unusual medical cases; Grey’s has always gone above and beyond our expectations of a medical drama.
5. Death And All His Friends (6.24)
What Grey’s Anatomy does so well, is always bring in multiple perspectives and thus selling even the wildest plot points. In the Season six capper, Derek has been shot by the husband of a patient whom Richard had to take off life support and Cristina is under pressure to perform surgery on him with a gun to her head, while Meredith is going through a miscarriage mid-surgery. It’s an episode full of drama and twists, but its best moments come when the shooter finally faces Richard in a room alone. The episode, while absolutely shocking, once again finds its human heart that arguably keeps us tuning in every week.
4. Losing My Religion (2.27)
This might have been the first episode that truly broke viewers’ hearts across the globe. The sight of Izzie in her gorgeous prom dress crying into Denny’s chest after she realises he’s died of a simple blood clot - after all that she did for him - is forever burned into our brains. We didn’t know this at the time, but this was only the first of many times when Grey’s Anatomy fooled us with a seemingly happy conclusion, only to shatter our collective hearts moments later.
3. Let The Bad Times Roll (8.22)
The residents take their boards in Let The Bad Times Roll and it’s a cracking episode that focuses on the funny instead of the tragic. It’s steamy, it’s sexy, and it’s entertaining; Meredith suffers from a stomach bug and Cristina is stuck with an old and slow doctor questioning her while Jackson and April both freak out over their steamy tryst. Grey’s Anatomy can sometimes be desperately sad and upsetting, so episodes like these forward the narrative and also act as the perfect palate cleansers.
2. Time Warp (6.15)
Another “fun” episode for Grey’s Anatomy! This episode introduces us to Bailey before she was the tough cookie we’ve only ever known her to be, Callie just before the entered the main action and young Richard and Ellis Grey (played by J. August Richards and Sarah Paulson nonetheless). The episode takes turns in hopping back in time to show us three distinctive cases from each doctor’s past to show how they moulded them and they became the doctors we love today.
1. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper (14.11)
There are a lot of great, affecting episodes in the 300+ aired episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. There has been a plane crash, a fire, floods, we’ve lost several beloved characters and seen plenty of romances. Yet, somehow arguably the best episode of Grey’s Anatomy focuses on an issue no one ever speaks of. Bailey’s health struggles have been covered in the series before but in this episode, Bailey suspects she is having a heart attack and seeks care, only to be told she is perfectly fine. Black women are often not believed or their symptoms are downplayed, making it hard to treat these conditions despite women and POC being vulnerable to them. It’s a brilliant episode that brings attention to something important.
There are a few honourable mentions that almost made the list; Now Or Never (5.24), Golden Hour (7.15), Into You Like A Train (2.06), Silent All These Years (15.19).
What are your favourite episodes of Grey's Anatomy? Lets us know in the comments below...