11 years, 25 series regulars, 228 episodes — Don't be ashamed to admit that you occasionally forget exactly what's going on in the halls of Seattle Grace Hospital... or Seattle Grace Mercy West... or Grey Sloan Memorial... or whatever the heck that place is called this week. I can 100 percent guarantee you that you're not alone. After over a decade on the air, Grey's Anatomy — ABC's medical soap that made Shonda Rhimes a television demi-god — is still going strong. But if you need a quick refresher before jumping head-first into the second half of Grey's Anatomy Season 11, you're not alone.
Like any long-running show, the cast has often been a bit of a revolving door, with some additions becoming indispensable members of the core cast (like Callie), and others leaving too soon to go star in their own spinoffs (*cough*Addison*cough*). But despite this, it's actually pretty impressive how many of the show's original cast members are still roaming the halls of Seattle's premier teaching hospital. Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson, and James Pickens, Jr. are all still onboard — compare that to ER, which in its eleventh season only retained one of its Season 1 characters: Noah Wyle's John Carter, who left the show after that season. (Unless you count Sherry Stringfield's Susan Lewis, but she left the show after Season 3 and only returned in Season 8.)
Anyway, that's all to say that we've seen these characters go through a lot. So if you can't remember exactly who was fighting with who or who kissed who or who's pregnant this time... don't sweat it! I've compiled this cheat sheet to get you prepped for when Grey's Anatomy returns from its midseason hiatus this Thursday
Meredith & Derek
What They've Been Up To: Bickering, ever since Derek decided in the season premiere to turn down POTUS' job offer. Meredith had told him she wasn't interested in leaving Seattle, so Derek chose not to go — but then they just ended up resenting each other. Derek resents Meredith for making him turn down the opportunity of a lifetime, Meredith resents Derek for only having picked his family out of obligation.
Where They Left Off: After a tense fight, Derek called POTUS to tell him he'd reconsidered. And so Dr. Shepherd is off to Washington D.C. while Dr. Grey remains behind in Washington State with their children.
Burning Question: Can the bickering couple survive a long-distance marriage?
Callie & Arizona
What They've Been Up To: The spouses started couples counseling to try to work through their many issues, and on the advice of their therapist, they attempted a trial separation. Unfortunately, while this made Arizona realize how much she needed Callie, it made Callie realize how much happier she was alone. They split up. Again.
Where They Left Off: Arizona has filled her suddenly empty life with her fellowship with Dr. Herman, who she just found out has an inoperable brain tumor. Unbeknownst to her boss, Arizona took her brain scans to Amelia, who informed her that she thinks she can operate. Callie has enjoyed working with Owen on a robotic limbs project for veterans; but the project hit a snag when a vet fell and hit his head and went into a coma. Fortunately, Owen convinced Callie not to quit despite her feelings of guilt.
Burning Question: Will Callie and Arizona get back together? Again?
Alex & Jo
What They've Been Up To: There has been a bit of tension between this couple due to Jo being jealous of Alex's close relationship with Meredith. In Cristina's absence, Meredith needed a new "person," and so she's been relying on the only remaining Season 1 intern for emotional support, coming into their home in the middle of the night and kicking Jo out of bed.
Where They Left Off: Alex assured Jo that she had no reason to be threatened. He told her she's the love of his life, but he explained to her that his house (formerly Meredith's) would always be a place where anyone is welcome.
Burning Question: Will Meredith and Alex grow even closer in Derek's absence? Dangerously close, perhaps?
April & Jackson
What They've Been Up To: Gettin' preggers! There was a bit of drama when April's mother came to town unannounced — a gesture which April did not appreciate. But thanks to Jackson, mother and daughter patched things up and the happy couple are more in love than ever and excited to welcome their child into the world...
Where They Left Off: ...By now, Grey's Anatomy should have primed us to expect the worst when a character is at their happiest, and yet the midseason finale revelation that Jackson and April's baby had a congenital birth defect was heartbreaking. The fetus has a rare brittle bone disease that is 99 persent fatal. This devastating plot seems poised to bring the highly religious April into conflict with herself over an impossible decision.
Burning Question: What decision will April make about her pregnancy?
Owen & Amelia
What They've Been Up To: Owen has seemed a bit lost ever since Cristina left Seattle for Switzerland, but has found some meaning in his veterans project with Callie. Amelia has had some trouble adjusting to life at Seattle Grace, clashing with her brother over the neurosurgery department, not to mention having her dirty laundry aired all over the hospital when someone who recognizes her from AA spills the fact that she's an addict.
Where They Left Off: Once Owen's fears about Amelia's sobriety are assuaged by Derek, he and the other Dr. Shepherd actually end up bonding a bit in the midseason finale. Everyone sensed the sparks flying, right? It wasn't just me?
Burning Question: How long until they do it, already?!
Richard & Maggie
What They've Been Up To: Going through awkward growing pains after realizing they're related. This was a realization that Richard came to in the Season 10 finale, when he discovered that Maggie was his daughter with Ellis Grey. Unwisely, Richard kept this information to himself, preferring to observe Maggie from afar before approaching her with the life-changing revelation. When Maggie found out he'd known and kept it from her, she was infuriated. The two have been on rocky ground ever since.
Where They Left Off: They finally made some strides towards reconciliation thanks to a bungled dinner invitation from Derek and Maggie's half-sister Meredith. They further bonded over a case where they were initially at odds. When Maggie asked Richard how he came to his decision, he told her he has a risk/benefit analysis system and offered to explain it to her over a cup of coffee. She accepted.
Burning Question: Will they ever be a real father/daughter pair, or just agree to remain respectful colleagues?
What She's Been Up To: When Cristina left for Switzerland at the end of Season 10, she left her seat on the hospital board to Alex. Unaware of this, Richard nominated Bailey for Cristina's vacant slot. When the board decided that Cristina didn't actually have the authority to bequeath her spot to anyone, they instead elected to hear pitches from both Bailey and Alex and then vote. They chose Bailey unanimously. (Although Alex got the giant consolation prize of Arizona's position as Chief of Pediatrics, which she vacated to take Dr. Herman's fellowship.)
Where She Left Off: Honestly, Bailey hasn't had any huge plotlines since landing the seat on the board. She's decided to start being healthier, going on jobs with Maggie. And she's living up to her old nickname again, terrorizing Jo after the resident's first solo surgery. But that's about it.
Burning Question: Will she get a storyline of her own anytime soon?
What She's Been Up To: Oh you know, surgery and stuff. Being the awkward ex-girlfriend of a guy who left her sitting in a church when he interrupted a wedding to run away with the bride. Normal stuff, basically.
Where She Left Off: During a routine ultrasound of April's baby, Stephanie is the one who caught the fetus' defect and brought it to Arizona and Dr. Herman's attention. Unfortunately, Jackson overheard them discussing his baby... although April remains as-of-yet blissfully unaware of the trouble ahead.
Burning Question: Will her character ever get a relevant storyline?
Images: Ron Tom (2), Richard Cartwright, Adam Taylor (2), Ron Batzdorff (2), Eric McCandless, Danny Feld/ABC