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10 Times Grey's Anatomy Could've (And Probably Should've) Ended

Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York. She's worked with clients like Instacart, Tailwind, Columbia, Esurance, and LifeLock.


Grey’s Anatomy has had an amazing 18-season run and it’s touched on almost every subject from medical impossibilities to scandalous love affairs.

Is there anything this show hasn’t covered? Though the show has had amazing twists and turns throughout the years, even die-hard fans agree it’s time to give it the ax – respectfully.

But the show’s actors, writers, and/or creators continue writing new seasons and they keep getting green-lit, despite that the show is nearly unrecognizable with almost a whole new cast of characters from Season 1 (with the exception of Miranda Bailey and Richard Webber).

The last to leave the show of the characters from Season 1 was Alex Karev, who made an abrupt exit during season 16.

For many fans, that should’ve been the show’s final season. But it continued. Still, fans spend a lot of time fantasizing about how the show will end.

But here are 10 times the show could’ve – and probably should have – ended.

1. After the Second Plane Crash

The plane crash episodes of Season 8 are some of the most memorable in the season. We all remember Cristina yelling about that frickin’ shoe, Arizona crying helplessly with her leg pinned underneath a piece of the plane (which she’d later lose), Meredith screaming for Derek…and who could forget Meredith crying after Lexie died.

The season of the plane crash could’ve been a perfect end to the show by speeding up the whole seeing dead people on the beach thing and giving Mark and Lexie their reunion a lot earlier. And Mark’s “If You Love Someone, Tell Them” speech doesn’t help.

2. After Cristina Yang’s Exit

The show took a turn with the exit of Cristina Yang, Meredith Grey’s right hand, her person. We all loved watching the relationship between them develop into budding bestie-ship we just can’t get enough of. Especially one makes the other dance it out when one of them is feeling down. It’s adorbs.

So it’s only natural that the end to their friendship might mean an end of the show. Or a spinoff, perhaps? I’m sure the writers of Grey’s Anatomy could’ve come up with a way to end the show after Cristina Yang moves to Switzerland to take over Burke’s hospital.

3. After Derek Shepherd Died

After Derek Shepherd died on the show, it left an empty space in Meredith’s personal life that was just never quite filled by any of her suitors – Andrew DeLuca, Atticus Lincoln, William Thorpe, or Nathan Riggs.

Although their relationship was pretty flawed, as many fans have pointed out, Derek Shepherd’s absence no doubt left an absence the show has never been able to make up for.

4. After Meredith Returns from Being MIA After Derek’s Death

After Derek’s death, Meredith is distraught beyond measure. She can’t cope and so she does exactly what her mother did after she lost Richard – she flees. And she doesn’t look back for months.

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When she returns, she’s welcomed back with opens arms (and so is Ellis – her and Derek’s baby that she’s been carrying). The show could’ve easily ended there and given Meredith and the remaining show’s primary characters a respectful ending.

5. When Zola Vows to Become a Surgeon Like Her Dad

Nothing pulls at your heartstrings more than hearing Zola say that she wants to be a brain surgeon just like her dad after Derek’s sudden passing. Again, this would’ve been the perfect place to end the show.

The creators could’ve even given the little girl a spinoff, starting from the point that she graduates medical school and starts her intern year of her residency at…you guessed it, Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. We’ve could’ve seen Maggie or Meredith as Chief of Surgery and the rest would’ve been history.

6. After Amelia Gets Her Tumor Removed

Amelia Shepherd, Derek Shepherd’s equally talented brain surgeon sister, finds out she has a tumor in season 14, episode 2. And she struggles with it, realizing it’s probably the reason for her crazy behavior all these years.

But it’s also the moment she realizes she might not have married Owen if it weren’t for her tumor, shaking the foundation of their whole relationship. The show’s creators could’ve allowed Amelia to die from the tumor, but a better ending would’ve been if she survived (and carried Derek with her forever by wearing his favorite Ferry Boat scrub cap).

7. Any Season Before the Musical Episode

If you’re not a fan of musicals, you might’ve cringed through the entire musical episode of Grey’s Anatomy, in which Callie is outside of her body after a car crash, watching the doctors work to save her life. Why she’s singing? No one knows.

But any time before that episode would’ve been a good time to end the show. Because most fans agree that it just didn’t belong with the rest of the show. It was awkward. And didn’t make much sense.

8. When Callie and Arizona Left for New York

The show lost a huge presence when Callie left for New York in season 12, and while it was nice still having Arizona, the show just wasn’t the same without the brilliant, spit-fire surgeon who worked hard and fell harder for everyone she loved. She was a firecracker – someone who always brought a little something extra to the show.

After season 12, the show suffered to keep its same playful energy, especially with Cristina Yang already gone (as she was one of the show’s best forms of comic relief – despite her occasional “dark and twisty” moments with Meredith). The show could’ve ended after Arizona followed Callie to New York to keep its integrity and its familiarity.

9. Before Alex Karev Abruptly Departed

When Alex Karev left the show to go be with Izzie (which confused just about everyone), the show was already suffering from a lack of compelling storylines, according to social media. The internet watched in horror as the show’s creators wrote Alex off the show in one of the worst ways imaginable – he leaves Jo and runs back to Izzie, who’s secretly had his frozen pop babies from years and years ago? (Still a head-scratcher for most fans of the show).

Although his exit couldn’t have been predicted, we know that the show could’ve ended well before Justin Chambers decided to depart the show due to mental health issues. It’s no secret that the set of Grey’s Anatomy could be pretty toxic, especially in the days of Derek Shepherd. Before this exit would’ve been an appropriate time to end the show.

10. When Jackson Departed the Show (And Rumors of a Spinoff Circulated)

Jackson Avery was one of Grey Sloan Memorial’s hottest doctors – god, those eyes! But once he decided to make an exit from the show (April’s character made her exit in season 14, but returned in season 17 for a brief appearance), the actors discussed a spinoff “at-length.”

Jackson exited the show as the last of the Mercy Westers. And it would’ve been a great time to bid the show farewell, as most of the characters the show now centers on are completely unrecognizable. It almost looks like a completely different show.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Grey's should've ended? Take the poll and let me know.

Should Grey's Anatomy Have Ended a Long Time Ago?

© 2022 Shanea Patterson

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