21 'Grey's Anatomy' Episodes That Will Make You Cry Happy & Sad Tears
There are two kinds of people in this world: those of us who have cried at Grey's Anatomy, and those of us who are liars. If you're looking for a show to make you laugh, this isn't one of them — you watch Grey's when you want to feel. Of course, some episodes over the show's 14-season run are more brutal on your heart strings than others, but there are also episodes of Grey's that will make you cry simply because you're so happy. Basically, when you're watching this show, plan for your emotions to be all over the place.
One of the reasons this show can get you straight in the feelings is the fact that showrunner Shonda Rhimes has never been afraid to go there, with "there" being the place where series regulars are killed off and life at our favorite TV hospital is changed forever. Saying goodbye to a character on Grey's Anatomy is like saying goodbye to an old friend, and some of the storylines featured on the show just hit way too close to home. And when fans aren't sobbing at the show's more heartbreaking scenes, those happy tears hit you where you least expect it.
Looking for the cathartic experience of crying along with Meredith, happy or sad? These are the Grey's Anatomy episodes you should turn to first.
1. Season 8, Episode 24: "Flight"
There are few episodes of Grey's that are quite as horrifying as the plane crash episode. Their private plane crashed as the doctors were on the way to Boise to help with a surgery, and Arizona, Mark, Lexie, Meredith, Derek, and Cristina all ended up stranded in the woods. It's hard to say which was harder — seeing Lexie die as Mark laid next to her, or knowing that even though he'd survive the crash itself, Mark would be dead soon, too.
2. Season 11, Episode 21: "How To Save A Life"
Is there anything more heartbreaking that hearing Derek narrate his own death? He knows exactly what the doctors around him need to do to save him, but he can't tell them... and then seeing Meredith say goodbye to him? A total punch in the gut.
3. Season 8, Episode 10: "Suddenly"
Meredith and Derek's adoption process was an emotional rollercoaster, but there was nothing more gratifying than when Meredith came home from a long day at work and the doorbell rang and there was Zola. So many happy tears.
4. Season 6, Episode 24: "Death And All His Friends"
No matter how many times you watch this episode, it's still impossible to get through it without crying. It's scary AF to watch a shooting play out in the hospital, but to see multiple beloved doctors get shot and some even killed? Meredith begging the shooter to kill her instead of Derek and having a miscarriage is almost worse, but the whole thing is a massive cryfest.
5. Season 14, Episode 7: "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story"
To see Meredith win the Harper Avery award and reach a lifelong goal after 14 seasons, only for her to remember her mom and finally feel like Ellis was proud of her? It's impossible not to cry about how much that moment would have meant to her.
6. Season 9, Episode 1: "Going, Going, Gone"
There's something so cruel about watching Mark make it back from Seattle after the plane crash, have his "surge" and be his old self again, and then end up dying anyway... as if losing Lexie in the plane crash wasn't bad enough.
7. Season 12, Episode 9: "The Sound Of Silence"
When Meredith was assaulted by a patient after he had a seizure, it wasn't clear if she'd survive — and seeing the other doctors react to her injuries was heartbreaking. Who didn't tear up seeing Alex cry?! It was even sadder to watch her difficult recovery, and how excited she was to see her kids again, only for them to be terrified of her.
8. Season 4, Episode 17: "Freedom"
It took a long time for Meredith and Derek to get it right (we're talking years) but when they finally did, it was so worth the wait. Meredith making Derek the house of candles when she was ready to commit to him for real is one of the highlights of the entire series, and the moment couldn't have been more perfect.
9. Season 2, Episode 27: "Losing My Religion"
Denny's death was one of the most heart wrenching moments of the season — not just because he'd become a beloved character in his short time on the show, but also because watching Izzie break down when she realized he was dead was horrifying.
10. Season 5, Episode 19: "Elevator Love Letter"
One of the most magical moments of the series was when Meredith walked into that elevator and Derek proposed to her in the best way possible: with scans from all the cases they'd worked on together.
11. Season 3, Episode 16: "Drowing On Dry Land"
Meredith drowning after the ferry boat crash was one of the saddest moments of the series, but seeing the doctors come to terms with the fact that she might not survive was even worse. Eventually, she pulled through — and those sad tears turned right into happy ones. Basically, watching this episode, plan for your emotions to be all over the place.
12. Season 6, Episode 1: "Good Mourning"
Being that absolutely no one saw this coming, George's death hit fans hard. He was an unidentified patient for most of the episode before Meredith realized he was George... and the only thing more brutal than that moment was seeing him in his military uniform in the elevator, waiting for Izzie who almost died herself.
13. Season 2, Episode 6: "Into You Like A Train"
The train crash episode was difficult to watch mainly because of the patients who were both impaled by the same pole. Tom and Bonnie both kept their sense of humor up as long as they could, but then, when Bonnie realized she'd need to die so Tom could live? Instant waterworks.
14. Season 7, Episode 20: "White Wedding"
It seemed like everything that could have gone wrong before their wedding did, but in the end, Callie and Arizona's wedding was perfect... even if their marriage ultimately didn't survive. But when they were at their best, like they were at that wedding? Instant tears.
15. Season 2, Episode 17: "As We Know It"
Who could forget when Meredith had her hand inside a live explosive that hadn't detonated yet? Even though she was scared out of her mind, the bomb squad guy on the case did everything he could to talk her through it. Unfortunately, when she did finally pull her hand out, the bomb detonated and the bomb guy was killed, and that moment was heartbreaking.
16. Season 8, Episode 19: "Support System"
Cristina and Owen had a lot of ups and downs over the course of Grey's, but one of the saddest moments for them was when Owen confessed that he had cheated on Cristina — and the entire episode that followed, where they both stayed in their apartment and attempted to talk it out. What made it worse was the fact that this is just one of a few times in the entire series that Cristina was actually heartbroken.
17. Season 11, Episode 11: "All I Could Do Was Cry"
Some of us will never get over the fact that Jackson and April are no longer together, but their relationship definitely unraveled after they faced losing their son, Samuel, after finding out he had a fatal birth defect. Hearing April constantly talk about how maybe there would be a miracle? Well, if that doesn't make you cry, you may have no soul.
18. Season 9, Episode 7: "I Was Made For Lovin' You"
After her struggles with infertility, Meredith was shocked to find out she was pregnant with who would turn out to be baby Bailey. Seeing her tell Derek by showing him a "big sister" shirt she got for Zola? Priceless.
19. Season 5, Episode 18: "Stand By Me"
After losing a pregnant patient that he'd really grown close to, Derek disappeared into the woods. One by one, the other docs go out there to try to convince him to come back to the hospital, but he just ends up making them all sad right along with him... until Meredith shows up, at which point he throws her engagement ring (which he hadn't yet proposed with) into the woods, too. Yikes.
20. Season 7, Episode 17: "This Is How We Do It"
Let's just pretend that it didn't lead into the show's one and only musical episode, OK? Because aside from that, this situation was truly heartbreaking. Finding out that, while they were discussing marriage, Callie and Arizona were in a horrific crash that almost cost both Callie and unborn baby Sofia their lives was rough.
21. Season 10, Episode 12: "Get Up Stand Up"
Their relationship was definitely doomed, but while it lasted, it was beautiful, especially when Jackson stood up during April's wedding and said that he didn't want her to marry Matthew.
Grey's Anatomy is known for its emotional moments, but that's what the show does best. And whether you want to cry happy tears or need the catharsis of crying the sad kind, these episodes will definitely deliver.