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7 Times Cristina Yang Showed Her Softer Side (and We Were Here for It)


Cristina Yang is Grey-Sloan Memorial’s intern/resident cardio badass, and also, smart-ass (depending on what season you’re watching). She was at the top of her class in medical school and then she’s kicking ass at being an intern.

It’s amazing to see the growth of her character from Season 1 all the way up till Season 10 when she leaves the show.

At first, she’s clearly kind of a loner, other than her partner in crime (a.k.a. her “person”), Meredith Grey.

From the time the show begins, we can see Cristina doesn’t like to show her soft side, which is why we’re pleasantly surprised when she does.

Let’s look at ten times Cristina Yang showed her soft side, and we were here for it.

1. When She Loses Her Baby

As women, we can relate to Cristina’s pain. While not all of us have lost a baby per se, we can imagine the pain she’s feeling. Even though she didn’t want the baby, it’s still a scary thing to go through – an ectopic pregnancy.

While she lies in the hospital, unable to assist in surgery (or even do rounds), we feel for her as she suffers through being a patient instead of a doctor in this episode. To make matters worse, her mother shows up and starts (s)mothering her.

She keeps asking Cristina about things that are frivolous to Cristina – like dating, marriage, and decorating.

2. When She Dances It Out with Burke

Even though they’re not “dancing it out” the way she and Meredith (the twisted sisters) would, there’s a scene in the earlier seasons when Cristina’s dating Preston Burke (and kind of) staying with him (she secretly keeps her own apartment) where Burke comes back home, and he catches Cristina dancing in the apartment with her headphones on.

Once she notices him there watching her, we expect her to curl up and hide at the fact that he’s seeing her like this. But instead, she keeps dancing. And he joins in! It’s a rare treat to get to see Cristina like this and we love it!

3. When She Breaks Down After the Plane Crash

Cristina is a tough cookie to crack for most people – if you even dare to try. Her quick whit and sharp tongue make it impossible for anyone to go head-to-head with her, which is why it’s so hard to see her in such a vulnerable state after she survives the plane crash that killed Lexie and Mark and claimed Arizona’s leg.

For a long time, Cristina can’t practice surgery because the images and sounds and experiences from the plane crash are stuck with her. She’s in a trance-like state as she sits in the bathtub recalling the events that took place directly after the crash – hearing Arizona’s screams, Meredith crying over Lexie, and the worst part – hearing the wolves fight over Lexie’s body. She’s vulnerable and broken. And it’s rare we get to this side of her unless a major tragedy affects her.

4. When Burke Leaves Her at the Altar

In the earlier seasons, Cristina agrees to marry Preston Burke, despite her gut telling her that it’s not what she wants. But she goes ahead and tries to marry him. She gets all dressed up in a pretty white dress, gets her makeup done – even loses her eyebrows to Burke’s mother – all because she loves Burke.

But then he turns around and leaves her at the altar? At first, we’re like…wait, what? But then, we realize it was probably the best for both of them. Burke did her a kindness by not marrying her because he knew deep down that she didn’t want to be married. So he set her free.

5. When Cristina Moves to Colorado and Her Mentor Dies

Fed up with all of the tragedies occurring at “Grey-Sloan Mercy Death,” as Cristina refers to it in the season she leaves Grey-Sloan Mercy West temporarily before her final exit from the show, Cristina high-tails it to Colorado to be mentored by attending cardiothoracic surgeon of the Mayo Clinic, Craig Thomas.

While there, she expects to learn from him. What she gets is much more – a friendship she’ll never forget.

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After she finally warms up to the cardiothoracic dinosaur (who prefers older methods of surgery at times), he dies after a heart attack during what turns out to be his final operation.

Cristina is clearly broken up about it, but only in true Cristina fashion.

She doesn’t make a big scene, but you can tell she’s going to miss him not just professionally, but as a friend.

6. After the Hospital Shooting

In the season six finale, “Death and All His Friends,” Derek Shepherd gets shot by a disgruntled former patient’s husband, whom he made the decision to take off of life support. Gary Clark shoots Derek for that fatal decision and after Cristina and Meredith are able to get him down to an open operating room, it’s up to Cristina to save the life of her best friend’s husband. Talk about pressure.

On top of that, the gunman finds them and holds Cristina at gunpoint as she’s trying to sew up the hole that ripped through Derek’s chest. Crying hysterically (as any sane person in that situation would), Cristina continues to perform surgery on Derek against the gunman’s wishes. That’s when Meredith steps in and offers herself up on a platter to the gunman, but Cristina reveals that Meredith is pregnant and urgers him not to shoot her.

Distracted by this, Gary Clark doesn’t notice Owen coming at him for the gun. The gun goes off and Owen gets shot. So Cristina has to watch her boyfriend get shot while trying to save her best friend’s husband’s life. Oh, the drama.

That’s when Jackson steps in and tells Cristina to stop operating. The monitor flatlines and Gary leaves. Meredith bursts into tears. Gary leaves.

But what he didn’t know is that Jackson, who’s also in the operating room helping, disconnected the leads from Derek’s body to make it appear as if he’d died.

Cristina is relieved, but still has to face the fact that Owen might not be okay, all the while still operating on Derek.

7. When She Revealed the Truth About Her Dad to George

In season 2, when he goes turkey hunting with his dad and his brothers, one of his brothers accidentally shoots him in the butt, forcing him to be admitted to the hospital. While in the hospital, George finds out that his dad has cancer and it’s already spread pretty far.

His superior surgeons decide against doing the surgery because it would be too much for his body, and there’s a chance he could die if they perform the surgery.

But George’s love for his dad won’t allow him to see things clearly, which is why there’s a rule that you can’t practice medicine on family members.

Somehow, George convinces them to go on and do the surgery. Afterwards, George’s father fights as much as he can’t, but loses. His father dies.

And when Cristina finds this out, she welcomes him to the dead dad club and reveals the story about how her father was killed in a car accident and that she was in the car with him. She watched her father die.

It’s a side to Cristina we don’t normally see and it reminds us that she’s human. Even if she is a straight up mean and overly competitive at times. It makes for a believable and relatable character.

What are your favorite times Cristina Yang wasn’t exactly herself? Let me know in the comments.

© 2022 Shanea Patterson

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