The Downfall of Grey's Anatomy

According to psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, there are five distinctive stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Dedicated Grey’s Anatomy fans will recognize the classic, heartbreaking Meredith Grey reference to these stages during season six in the aftermath of a dramatic turn of events that led to the loss of a beloved character (damn it O’Malley). Unfortunately for Grey’s fans, like myself, our time to grieve started two seasons back when Christina Yang, cardiac surgery badass and twisted sister, left the show.

Although Yang exiting the series did not necessarily mean the show would end, it did mark the moment the show embarked on its downward spiral. Moreover, the even-realer tragedy is that the show continues to trudge on with worsening plot lines and weak character relationships that have only served to tarnish its legacy. Overall, the show’s main appeal has always been its strong character relationships and growth, but its new identity is just a cheap ploy to keep it going because producers know they can take advantage of Grey’s steady fan base that is in too deep to stop watching.

Some fans will argue that my viewpoints are not of a “real fan,” but I have been watching the show for more than five years, experience mild to severe emotional breakdowns because of it and have watched seasons one to seven religiously — so I can tell you I’m as real as it gets.

It is difficult for me to stress the show’s desperate need to end, but it’s a matter I have grown to accept. In order to aid my fellow Grey’s fans through this process, I’m going to break down my rationale through the five stages of grief.

Stage 1: Denial“We go into denial because the loss is so unthinkable, we can’t imagine it’s true.”

At first it was easy to ignore the poor writing shown through repetitive plotlines and an influx of new, pitiful characters. But even during season 10, which still had Yang, you could already tell that the show was losing its touch. The fight between Christina and Meredith had good points, but it went on for too long, which made it just boring and quite frankly annoying to watch. Regardless of that, by season 10 we had already lost about seven original or relevant showrunners, and losing Christina was just the tip of the iceberg. Yet here we are still watching the show, wondering whether the characters were experiencing trauma or if we were.

Stage 2: Anger “We become angry with everyone. We become angry with survivors, angry with ourselves.”

Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes seems to have some kind of twisted hobby for killing everyone’s favorite characters one by freaking one. This is not The Hunger Games, Shonda. These are doctors, and if you thought killing our favorite characters was a cute little satire trick, considering all of them had medical expertise at hand, you’re highly mistaken. No one is amused.

Stage 3: Bargaining“Then we bargain, we beg, we plead. We offer everything we have. We offer up our souls in exchange for just one more day.”

We’ve all been secretly waiting for that “just kidding” moment when it’s revealed that Meredith has been in a coma this whole time and when she wakes up everyone from Grey’s heaven is still alive. We hope that maybe if we keep torturing ourselves by watching Grey’s that the show might give us some flashbacks from its glory days or nostalgically mention lost characters. I mean, it’s totally realistic for a hospital’s doctors to have experienced a mass shooting, car crashes, airplane crashes, bus crashes, electrocution, attempted suicides and deadly illnesses, yet still be okay. Right?

Stage 4: Depression“When the bargaining has failed and the anger is too hard to maintain, we fall into depression, despair.”

Needless to say, this show has successfully produced an emotionally unstable fan base with almost unhealthy attachments to its characters. As the body count increased, there came a moment when viewers almost became numb to it happening — that is, until the loss of Derek Shepherd.

With McDreamy gone, along with a part of my soul, the show officially lost its identity. The entire episode, much like all of season 11, was a half-heartedly written catastrophe. The episode after that was meant to honor and mourn the loss of arguably the most important character of the show, besides Meredith, but it did anything but that. Grey’s Anatomy may still have Meredith Grey, but it was Derek that helped her grow, and their relationship was what made the show as strong as it was. If Grey’s had ended before Patrick Dempsey decided to leave the show, it would have still had its dignity.

Stage 5: Acceptance“Until finally we have to accept that we have done everything we can. We let go. We let go and move into acceptance.”

Essentially what Rhimes is doing is throwing away all the characters she spent seasons molding. Instead of canceling the show before it lost more valuable members, she stretched it out into an unrecognizable program with new characters that lack depth and are being forced upon viewers to become “new fan favorites.” Alas, here came the moment when I realized there was no turning back for Grey’s Anatomy.

On a brighter note, recent reports have been circling rumors that Sandra Oh (Christina Yang) may be returning to the show. The return of Yang and the reunion of the twisted sisters is the last hope the show has to get back to its roots and potentially regain some of its stature.  

Photo credit: