The 30 Best ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Episodes of All Time
*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
If you love Grey’s Anatomy as much as we do, you’ve probably seen all 17 seasons of the popular ABC series…multiple times. However, with more than 300 episodes (and counting), there’s no denying that re-watching the show is a daunting task.
That’s why we rounded up the 30 best Grey’s Anatomy episodes, so you can relive every heart-stopping moment in a back-to-back marathon. Happy binge-watching!
1. “A Hard Day's Night”
Air date: March 27, 2005
Ah, the pilot episode never gets old. The show begins by introducing viewers to Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), a brand-new surgical intern at Seattle Grace Hospital. After an impromptu one-night stand, she arrives on her first day of work only to discover that her “random” fling just so happens to be Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), the chief of neurosurgery. #Awkward
2. “Who's Zoomin' Who?”
Air date: May 22, 2005
Chief Webber (James Pickens Jr.) is forced to stop in the middle of surgery after experiencing blurry vision in one eye. In addition to George O’Malley’s (T.R. Knight) run-in with syphilis, we also learn about Cristina Yang’s (Sandra Oh) surprise pregnancy.
3. “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”
Air date: September 25, 2005
This episode is the origin of the “You’re my person” catchphrase. It all begins when Cristina discovers she’s pregnant with Dr. Preston Burke’s (Isaiah Washington) baby. After deciding she wants an abortion, Cristina lists Meredith as her emergency contact and says, you guessed it, “You’re my person.”
4. “Bring the Pain”
Air date: October 23, 2005
Not only does this episode feature an unexpected heart-to-heart between George and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers)—who are stuck in an elevator—but it also includes Meredith’s iconic “Pick me. Choose me. Love me.” monologue to Derek. *Wipes tear*
5. “It's the End of the World”
Air date: February 5, 2006
A man comes into the ER after an incident involving homemade explosives. The doctors soon determine that there’s a live bomb inside his body, and the only thing keeping it stable is a young, nervous paramedic. When said paramedic freaks out, Meredith is forced to step in.
6. 'As We Know It'
Air date: February 12, 2006
In the second half of this two-part episode, Meredith is prepped by the bomb squad. In the maternity ward, Dr. Bailey goes into labor. The doctors are forced to stall while Derek operates on her husband, who got in a car crash on his way to the hospital.
7. “Losing My Religion”
Air date: May 15, 2006
We’ll never forget when our beloved Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) took his final breath, while Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) wept at his bedside. Easily one of the most heartbreaking moments in Grey’s Anatomy history, if you ask us. (And that’s saying a lot.)
8. “Walk on Water”
Air date: February 8, 2007
Three words: The ferry episode.
9. “Drowning on Dry Land”
Air date: February 15, 2007
Derek rescues Meredith after she trips and falls into an ice-cold lake. The doctors enter a race against time to save her life, in addition to the other ferry victims.
10. “Didn't We Almost Have It All?”
Air date: May 17, 2007
If Cristina crying in her wedding dress after being left at the altar by Dr. Burke doesn’t pull at your heartstrings, nothing will.
11. “Freedom: Part 2”
Air date: May 22, 2008
The season four finale brought loads of closure: Chief Webber gets back with his wife, Adele (Loretta Devine), Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) makes a move on Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) and finally, Derek and Meredith decide to give their relationship another try.
12. “Elevator Love Letter”
Air date: March 26, 2009
The episode begins with Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) choking Cristina because of his PTSD. The incident forces him to confront his past and confide in Cristina about…everything. Not to mention, Derek also proposes to Meredith in the elevator.
13. “Now or Never”
Air date: May 14, 2009
The season five finale is a gut-wrenching tearjerker. When Meredith is assigned to a John Doe patient, she soon learns his true identity: George (AKA 007). The doctors try (and fail) to save his life, resulting in the infamous elevator scene. As if things couldn’t get any worse, we also learn that Izzie has cancer.
Air date: May 20, 2010
In the first of the two-part finale, we’re introduced to a man named Gary Clark, who’s seeking revenge for the death of his wife. He’ll stop at nothing to kill the man who’s responsible (AKA Derek Shepherd), even if it means harming innocent victims along the way.
15. “Death and All His Friends”
Air date: May 20, 2010
When an active shooter enters the hospital, the doctors are forced to protect themselves against all odds. Derek’s life is put in jeopardy when he takes a bullet to the chest, forcing Cristina to operate in the scariest of circumstances. Gulp.
16. “White Wedding”
Air date: May 5, 2011
If you’re looking for an upbeat episode, we highly recommend re-watching Callie and Arizona’s wedding. Oh, and how could we forget about Meredith and Derek’s decision to adopt baby Zola?
Air date: May 17, 2012
In this devastating episode, Meredith, Derek, Cristina, Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw), Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh) and Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) are involved in a tragic plane crash. Some doctors—like Lexie—sustain fatal injuries, while others—like Meredith—are forced to fight for their survival in the middle of the woods.
18. “Going Going Gone”
Air date: September 27, 2012
In the aftermath of the plane crash, the doctors must come to terms with reality. (And by “reality,” we mean the drawn-out death of Mark Sloan.)
19. “Perfect Storm”
Air date: May 16, 2013
When a “perfect storm” hits Seattle, the doctors are forced to work under extenuating circumstances—no electricity, limited resources and a never-ending influx of patients.
20. “Fear (of the Unknown)”
Air date: May 15, 2014
Prior to leaving for Switzerland, Cristina bids her final farewell to the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. This includes one last dance party with Meredith, where Cristina says this now-iconic line about McDreamy: “He is not the sun. You are.”
21. “All I Could Do Was Cry”
Air date: February 12, 2015
The episode title speaks for itself. Whether you ship April Kepner (Sarah Drew) and Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) or not, this installment hits home every single time. It follows the couple as they cope with making an unimaginable decision about their unborn child. (Proceed with caution…and tissues.)
22. “How to Save a Life”
Air date: April 23, 2015
On his way to Washington D.C., Derek plays hero after witnessing a car crash. After bringing everyone to safety, Derek is involved in another accident, where he sustains serious brain damage. To top it off, he’s taken to a poorly equipped hospital that’s filled with inexperienced doctors who don’t realize the seriousness of his injury until it’s too late. As a result, Meredith decides to take Derek off life support.
23. “Ring of Fire”
Air date: May 18, 2017
Stephanie Edwards (Jerrika Hinton) and a young child are held hostage by a dangerous patient. Following a well-timed explosion, the doctors must work together to evacuate the hospital.
Air date: January 18, 2018
In this powerful episode, Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington) comes face to face with her abusive ex-husband. The story line raises awareness about domestic violence and highlights common misconceptions about getting help.
25. “All of Me”
Air date: May 17, 2018
In the season 14 finale, Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) evaluates her life decisions. Meanwhile, Alex and Jo prepare to walk down the aisle for their wedding, which doesn’t go as planned.
26. “Silent All These Years”
Air date: March 28, 2019
In this heartbreaking episode, we finally learn the truth about Jo’s biological mother, who gave her up as a baby because she was a product of rape. The news is followed by a timely case involving a sexual assault victim, who’s welcomed by hallways lined with supportive women.
27. “My Shot”
Air date: November 14, 2019
At long last, Meredith faces her trial, which will determine whether she can keep her medical license after committing insurance fraud. Disclaimer: The episode features flashbacks to Derek’s tragic death, so tissues are a must.
28. “Leave a Light On”
Air date: March 5, 2020
This shocking episode introduces the beginning of the end of Alex Karev. In a series of letters, the character reveals that he’s running away to live on a farm with Izzie, so he can raise their children that, plot twist, we didn’t know existed. *Eye roll*
30. “You'll Never Walk Alone”
Air date: December 3, 2020
Meredith’s dream continues as she faces her battle with COVID-19. This time, she’s visited on the beach by George, who confirms that he’s been watching over her (and the kids).