With nearly 400 episodes under its belt, Grey's Anatomy has long since usurped ER’s 331 episode-record to become the longest-running prime time medical procedural in history. It would take you over 20,000 minutes to watch every Grey's Anatomy episode back-to-back; that's over two straight weeks of screen time, with no breaks for eating food, using the bathroom, or sleeping.
Given the sheer number of hours, any decision to rewatch the landmark ABC series would be a commitment on the scale of, say, starting a new job or getting married. Even the most diehard Grey's fan may balk at such an undertaking, and understandably so. But 18 seasons is still a lot to be expected to remember, especially with all the other shows available to stream these days.
So instead of rewatching nearly two decades' worth of television — or even combing through backlogs of lengthy recaps — I present to you every season of Grey's Anatomy boiled down to one succinct sentence. They may not hit every single high and low of the series, but I hope it at least captures the overall spirit of things.
Five interns enter the seriously competitive world of surgery, meet their seriously McDreamy attendings, and have lots of seriously steamy sex in on-call rooms — until Meredith and Derek's tryst is cut short by the untimely arrival of Addison.
Meredith and Cristina become each other's person, the hospital weathers a nasty train crash and bomb scare, Izzie falls in love with a patient who dies, and her fellow interns Spartacus themselves to save her… but she quits anyway.
Meredith almost drowns, Callie and George get married, George and Izzie have sex, George fails his intern exam, Burke leaves Cristina at the altar, Meredith breaks up with Derek, and everyone cries.
Derek tries dating a nurse for a while but can't resist Meredith's candle-house; meanwhile, Meredith's little sister Lexie joins the new intern crew, George and Izzie make a (disastrous) go of it, Alex's relationship with ferry boat victim Rebecca unravels, and Callie realizes she's bi, surprise!
Cristina gets stabbed by an icicle but also gets a dreamy new army boyfriend named Owen, Mark and Lexie start hooking up, Izzie has sex with a ghost but then finds out she has a brain tumor, Meredith and Derek decide to give Alex and Izzie their wedding, but then Izzie and George flatline at the same time because of cancer and buses.
Izzie survives cancer but then kills someone and gets fired anyway; Seattle Grace merges with Mercy West and we get lots of new characters, some of whom we love (Jackson and April) and some of whom we hate (Charles and Reed); Cristina finally gets a new mentor in Teddy Altman, Richard gets fired for drinking, and Derek becomes chief, but then a grieving husband shoots up the hospital, killing only the characters we hate.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Cristina and Owen get married, Teddy falls in love with her patient, Arizona leaves Callie to go to Africa, Callie gets pregnant with Mark's baby but then Arizona comes back and proposes, and Meredith messes with Derek's Alzheimer's trial to help Richard's wife, Adele; oh also all the doctors randomly broke out into song for a whole episode (that was weird).
A sinkhole opens up in Seattle and also in our doctors' lives: Richard takes the fall for Meredith, Teddy's dreamy husband dies, Cristina and Owen break up after she terminates her pregnancy, and half the doctors are in a plane crash that kills Lexie and traumatically injures Arizona, Derek, and Mark.
Mark also dies from his injuries (RIP, McSteamy), and the rest of the plane crash survivors reach a massive settlement that allows them to buy the hospital; meanwhile, Alex meets an intern named Jo, April gets engaged to a paramedic, Meredith gives birth during a storm, and Richard gets electrocuted, dun dun DUNNNN.
Surprise, Richard survives but intern Heather dies instead (we barely knew ye), April and Jackson elope during April's wedding, Derek gets a job working for the president, Cristina is offered a job in Switzerland by Burke and leaves Seattle forever, and Grey's Anatomy was never the same, so I'm still in mourning and please respect my privacy during this time.
The one where Derek dies (also Meredith finds out she has a half-sister, April and Jackson's baby dies, and Calzona breaks up, but mostly Derek dies).
Callie dates the doctor who killed Derek and is so embarrassed she leaves town; April and Jackson break up but also get pregnant; Bailey becomes the chief; the writers decide Meredith should move on with a cut-rate Derek replacement; and Owen and Amelia get married too quickly.
Owen and Amelia don't last (plot twist!), Alex almost goes to jail for beating up DeLuca, Meredith is in a boring love triangle with Maggie and Nathan, Minnick does a terrible job of running the hospital and then disappears, and Stephanie blows up a rapist and then disappears.
Not-Derek is mercifully shipped off with Owen's not-dead sister, Amelia gets a brain tumor and is immediately cured, Ben becomes a firefighter and starts a spinoff, Dr. Herman and Matthew return and whisk off Arizona and April (respectively), Alex and Jo tie the knot, and Meredith Grey wins the Harper Avery Award #legend.
Teddy gives birth to Owen's baby while Amelia moves on from Owen with Link, Jo's meeting with her birth mother doesn't go well and she checks herself into a psychiatric facility to cope with her depression, and Andrew takes the fall for Meredith when she commits insurance fraud… but the season ends with Meredith turning herself in to clear her boyfriend's name.
Alex helps Meredith retain her medical license but then disappears from Seattle (and the show) after reconnecting with Izzie offscreen, Amelia and Link have a baby, and Richard nearly dies from a mystery illness but is saved by a manic Andrew, who learns he is developing symptoms of bipolar disorder like his father.
Meredith gets COVID and has to be intubated, leading her to reunite with long-lost favorites like Derek, George, Lexie, and Mark on an imagined beach; meanwhile, in the real world, Seattle Grace is rocked by tragedy after tragedy as Bailey's mom dies of COVID, Koracick contracts the disease as well, and Andrew is stabbed to death after confronting a human trafficker.
Meredith reunites with Nick Marsh while working on Parkinson’s research in Minnesota, but ultimately stays at Grey Sloan where she’s appointed the interim chief of surgery — and in other news, April and Jackson are officially back together, the residency program is shut down, and Owen and Teddy are on the run as Owen faces legal trouble for administering off-the-books physician-assisted suicide.
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