10 Ways Grey’s Anatomy Has Changed Over The Years (For Better Or Worse)

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Grey’s Anatomy is the longest-running medical drama in television history. The show’s success as the number one show on the ABC network helped Shonda Rhimes realize her dream of “ruling the world through television.” Now in its 18th season, Grey’s Anatomy continues to captivate audiences around the world with its groundbreaking storylines and impressive acting.

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Lead character Meredith Gray has kept the heart of the show alive throughout her tumultuous journey and complex relationships. Grey’s Anatomy has marked history and obtained several distinctions – just as the themes have been enriched over the years, Grey’s also made a few mistakes during its 17-year run.

Disclaimer: Topics on Sexual Assault and Violence Covered Below

ten Better: Grey’s is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects


Grey's Anatomy episode Jo Women

From its first season Grey’s Anatomy produced characters who suffered from related illnesses and traumas. In the second episode of the first season, a young woman was taken to the hospital after being found unconscious and brutally beaten. A man tried to rape her but she managed to push him away. Years later in Season 15, Jo Wilson confronts the mother who gave her up for adoption as a baby. Jo’s mother tells her that she was the product of a rape and that it was too difficult to keep her.

When Jo returns to work, she is treating a woman who has been violently assaulted and raped. As they transported the patient to her operating room, Jo asked that all female staff line up in the hallway. This moving display differed from the show’s first rape victim. The script was more detailed and graphic. It conveyed the horrors of sexual assault while showing empowerment and support for women.

9 Worse: there are too many new characters


Grey's Anatomy's new interns

Fans got attached to Grey’s central characters. Even with the series’ ensemble cast, the first 8 seasons were easy to follow and invest in. Unfortunately, after Season 9 introduced a new group of trainees, Grey’s began to lose the intimacy that was embedded in its storylines.

Although new trainees had been introduced before, little time was devoted to them individually. Now either too much time is given to supporting characters or they are given forced storylines that fans find it hard to invest in.


8 Better: Character-focused episodes give fans deeper insight into their favorite characters


Jackson and April Grey's Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy began developing character-centric episodes that allowed fans to spend more time with their favorite characters. Couples like Jackson and April, and Callie and Arizona have had episodes dedicated to the rise, fall, and rise of their relationships.

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Also, although the series is set around Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital, it’s still fun to see characters interact in unique environments. By taking the characters out of their typical surroundings, audiences can get a more detailed look at who each character really is.


7 Worse: Death has become a common exit strategy


Derek dies in Grey's Anatomy

One of the downsides of keeping a show going for over 17 years is the creative differences. While the actors are excited and grateful to be part of a successful show, it’s natural for them to want to branch out and see what else is out there.

As a result, the showrunners have no choice but to write certain characters off the show to fulfill their wishes. Unfortunately for Grey’s, their exit strategy is death. Death has become so common that it no longer has the same impact it did at the start of the series.


6 Better: Returning Past Characters Make Episodes Special


Addison returns to Grey's Anatomy

Although fans miss the days of McDreamy and McSteamy, their absence leaves room for exciting episodes to come. Even death can’t stop some of these characters from making a special appearance.

In Meredith’s dream sequence, she was visited by some of fans’ most beloved characters. Derek, George, Mark and Lexie have all returned from beyond the grave to visit Meredith. In addition to reintroducing characters that have been killed off, Grey’s also brought back fan favorites like Ellis Gray, Thatcher Gray and, most recently, Addison Montgomery, giving loyal fans a healthy dose of nostalgic nostalgia.


5 Worst: The dream sequences are a bit overdone


Teddy Dream Episode

Although the dream sequences sometimes make for interesting episodes, Grey’s became too comfortable with the concept. While fans were thrilled to see the beloved characters return, many felt Meredith’s dream world had gone on too long.

Later, when Teddy enters a dream sequence that helps her through her depression, fans were fed up. Excessive use of alluring concepts quickly makes the eyes of the public shine and hope for normalcy.


4 Better: Meredith finally gets the recognition she deserves


Meredith dismisses Harper Avery

Meredith Gray has come a long way from the inexperienced intern who slept with her boss and did everything she could to distance herself from her famous mother. Meredith is not only co-owner of Gray Sloan Memorial, but she is also in charge of general surgery.

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After watching Meredith go through countless hours of training, relationships, family trauma, multiple near-death and motherhood experiences, it’s gratifying to see her finally take flight and walk among the surgeons she looked up to.




3 Worse: there are too many cross events


Grey's Anatomy Crossover

Like most concepts and special scenarios, Grey’s crossover events became overplayed. This takes away from the element that made it special in the first place, rarity. It seems like every season premiere, mid-season finale, and season finale are all structured as a Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19 cross events.

Fans are annoyed these crossovers happen so often that viewers wonder if it can still be considered an event. It’s also frustrating for fans who don’t watch Station 19. Grey’s made a habit of merging important stories like Andrew Deluca’s death and Teddy and Owen’s wedding with Station 19, force Grey’s fans to watch a show they don’t care about.


2 Better: Writers deliver episodes fans can relate to today


Grey's Anatomy Covid

While some viewers watch television to escape reality, others enjoy a show that conveys the difficulties they face in their lives. Grey’s incorporated their version of a #MeToo scandal involving Jackson’s famous grandfather, Harper Avery. The episode saw Katherine Fox take over the award’s foundation and title. Grey’s empowered the victims in this scenario and delivered justice satisfactorily.

Grey’s also tackled Covid 19 and its effects on patients as well as staff. Watching Grey’s portraying the frustrations and drama caused by the Covid 19 pandemic has been a cathartic experience for many viewers.


1 Worst: The original cast members are gone


The original cast of Grey's Anatomy

Sadly, the days of MAGIC (Meredith, Alex, George, Izzie, Christina) are long gone. Creative differences, on-set conflicts, and a spin-off series cut out the original cast one by one. Grey’s Anatomy is currently in its 18th season, and from the original cast, only 3 people remain – Meredith Grey, Miranda Bailey and Richard Webber.

Although fans have grown attached to other characters along the way and consider them standard Grey’s Anatomy characters, nothing beats the chemistry and intimacy conveyed by the characters over the first two seasons.

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