WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Anyone past the first couple seasons of medical drama Grey’s Anatomy knows that creator Shonda Rhimes is ruthless. With countless character deaths in its 11 season course, Shonda has ripped out the metaphorical hearts of thousands of viewers. Recently, an end of season shocker left Grey’s fans crushed and furious. Here is a compiled list of Shonda’s most merciless murders.
7) Adele Webber
Despite being the oldest couple on the show, Richard and Adele had as many tumultuous turns as Meredith and Derek. From Richard’s past affair with Meredith’s mother Ellis, to stress on their marriage from Richard’s rigorous hospital hours as chief, to Adele’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, these two endured it all. When Adele died offscreen in season nine, her memory had deteriorated to the point that she thought her and Richard were still young newlyweds. This culminated in a tearful reaction from Richard, who attended Miranda’s wedding despite his own inner turmoil. When “My Funny Valentine” (Richard and Adele’s song) played at the wedding, viewers all around the world bawled.
6) Denny Duquette
Denny’s insistent flirting and Scrabble games with Izzie as he battled a lifelong heart condition made him a beloved character in season two. While anyone could see Denny’s death coming six episodes away, we were all shocked when Izzie cut his LVAD wire to boost him higher up on the heart transplant list. The false sense of relief after Denny got a new heart was short lived, however, and when he suddenly died on the night of a hospital prom, Izzie’s reaction was tragic. Denny was the first major character we lost on Grey’s, and his death paved the way for dozens of others. But viewers didn’t need to worry about missing Denny too much; he continued appearing as a hallucination of Izzie’s all the way into season five.
Okay, so Doc is a dog. That doesn’t make his death any less sad. Izzie adopted Doc after Denny’s death, but soon dubbed him “Dog from Hell” and passed him off to Meredith. Meredith, despite her love for Doc, gave him to Derek and Addison as a gesture of goodwill. Doc’s cancer led to Meredith’s fling with Finn the vet, and eventually killed him in a scene painfully similar to Marley and Me. Rest in peace, Doc.
4) Henry Burton
While Henry was only featured as a patient with a nearly incurable genetic condition in one total season of Grey’s, he quickly stole hearts as a charming and refreshing new love interest for Dr. Teddy Altman. In a storyline weirdly reminiscent to that of Denny Duquette and Izzie Stevens in season two, Teddy married Henry to grant him the insurance benefits required to get lifesaving surgery. Predictably, Teddy fell into real love with Henry, making it all the more tragic when he died while being operated on by Teddy’s protegee, Cristina. The following episode showed Teddy forcing Cristina to recite the details of the surgery over and over in a heartbreaking attempt to understand what went wrong. Henry’s death is all too often overlooked when compared to far more dramatic and strung out storylines, but it ranks up among the saddest on the show.
3) Lexie Grey (tie)
Despite initially coming off as an overeager know-it-all after her introduction as an intern in season four, Lexie Grey proved herself to be a character worth loving. “Little Grey” won hearts through trials and tribulations that included dyeing her hair blonde and wearing a diaper during surgery. After finally being accepted by older sister Meredith, Lexie’s plane crash death in the season eight finale hurt even more. And the iconic declaration of love by Mark as she lay dying under the wing of a plane will go down in history as a sob-worthy moment.
3) Mark Sloan (tie)
Nicknamed “McSteamy” (for good reason), Mark was the arrogant asshole with the heart of gold that every show needs. A world-renowned plastic surgeon and a womanizer up until his long term relationship with Lexie, Mark was a fan favorite for all seven seasons he was on the show. Despite the fact that he helped ruin Addison and Derek’s marriage, Mark proved himself a prime example of character development as he took on everything from surprise fatherhood to saving Lexie’s then-boyfriend, Alex, during a mass shooting. After the plane crash where Mark made his aforementioned love speech to Lexie, he ended up on life support due to his extensive injuries. The season nine premiere when Derek and Callie made the decision to pull the plug still hurts like it was yesterday.
2) George O’Malley
Admit it. This is the moment that broke you. When the brave John Doe who jumped in front of a bus to save a stranger traced “007” into Meredith’s hand, the whole hospital fell into a panic. George O’Malley, nicknamed 007 (licensed to kill) after his first appendectomy as an intern that resulted in a patient’s death, was a constant that Seattle Grace was not prepared to lose. After his ex-wife Callie verified that John Doe was, in fact, George, everything fell apart. The doctors had been planning an intervention to keep George from joining the army, and now they were just trying to keep him alive. Worst of all was Izzie’s (who had just undergone serious brain surgery for her tumor) reaction to the news about her best friend. Izzie was crying, Meredith was crying, Callie was crying, Miranda was crying. Everyone was crying. When Derek called time of death, so were we.
1) Derek Shepherd
I think I can speak for everyone when I say we never expected to lose McDreamy. Meredith and Derek had their ups and downs, stretching out a will-they-won’t-they for five seasons before their Post-It wedding just minutes before finding out George had been hit by a bus. Even after getting married, Merder were hot and cold, with their work life and love life often getting complicated. In season 11, the show stretched out a storyline with Derek working in D.C. that strained the golden couple’s relationship. When Meredith and Derek finally resolved their issues in a split second of happiness that Grey’s rarely grants us, we all let out a sigh of relief. Of course, because Shonda Rhimes wants to ruin us, that satisfaction was immediately destroyed when Derek was suddenly hit by a truck after heroically saving car accident victims in the road. A staff of sexist and incompetent doctors ignored a female doctor’s requests for a head CT, and Derek went brain-dead before Meredith arrived. In the midst of dramatic flashbacks of Merder through the past ten years, Meredith- with her and Derek’s kids in tow- made the decision to take Derek off life support. The familiar flatline noise that Grey’s viewers have learned to dread ended the decade of Meredith and Derek, along with any last shreds of emotional stability we had left. Through trailers and dream houses, clinical trials and bombs in body cavities, shooters and plane crashes, Meredith and Derek had prevailed. The loss of that constant effectively ruined thousands of lives. Goodbye, McDreamy. We will never forget you.