Must-See Grey's Anatomy Episodes From Every Season

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There's no question that Grey's Anatomy is the number one medical drama. It boasts numerous accolades and an unending list of seasons. 

It's too difficult to choose even the top five episodes when there are literally hundreds to choose from, so don't make us!

Instead, we've challenged ourselves to choose a must-see episode from each of the 16 seasons.

Grey's Anatomy cast photo

Whether it's an episode dedicated to a major disaster, a farewell to a long-lasting character, or a nail-biting cliffhanger, find which ones landed on our list. 

And if you're looking to binge-watch some old memories, don't forget to include the episodes below! 

No Man's Land (Grey's Anatomy Season 1 Episode 4)

Alex holding Izzie's photo - Grey's Anatomy Season 1 Episode 4

Season 1 is the shortest of the seasons, making this an easier choice. It would be cheating to say the first episode was our favorite, so we're going smack dab in the middle.

The show was still finding its bearings, but making strong cases for each of the character's likeability. Except maybe Alex's. 

It provided a closer look into the flawed relationship between Ellis and Meredith, as well as an exciting case of a man with nails in his head. Oh, and we can't forget the iconic scene when Izzie put all the men back in their place. 

If you're looking for a true throwback, even the quality of cameras and editing were far less than they are in today's episodes. It's a shocking revelation indeed.

It's the End of the World (Grey's Anatomy Season 2 Episode 16)

bomb in a body - Grey's Anatomy Season 2 Episode 16

A bomb inside a body cavity. Need we say more? Grey's Anatomy has always had the creativity to come up with insane cases, and this one was certainly one of them. 

Meredith decided it was a good day to be a bomb-ass surgeon (pun certainly intended) and stick her hand inside the body to stabilize the bomb.

We learned Code Black for the first time, and we watched in complete anxiety like we were playing the child's game "Perfection" racing to put all the shapes before the top blew. 

Thankfully, Meredith walked away with all her limbs intact, though we can't say the same for the man on the table. 

Walk on Water (Grey's Anatomy Season 3 Episode 16)

drowning on dry land - Grey's Anatomy Season 3 Episode 16

Sometimes the beds, walls, and atmosphere of the hospital are repetitive and seeing the doctors in a new environment adds a new level of excitement. 

After a huge ship crashed into a ferry resulting in mass casualties, the team was sent into the field to help anybody and everybody. 

Each person had fascinating cases, and Meredith bonded with a little girl. 

The ending left us questioning if Derek would be able to save Meredith from drowning as he had earlier in the bathtub.

Piece of My Heart (Grey's Anatomy Season 4 Episode 13)

Addison and Derek - Grey's Anatomy Season 4 Episode 13

Addison made a surprise visit back for a case and realized just how much change happens in a short amount of time, especially with these doctors.

Meredith and Derek were separated, Callie was bicurious, Cristina was trying to talk girl, and Alex was dating a patient. 

The residents were finding their footing as real surgeons beyond interns, always hungry for the best cases and fighting over a sparkle pager. 

Stairway to Heaven (Grey's Anatomy Season 5 Episode 13)

I Choose Life!

Throwback to when Izzie was doing the dirty with her Denny ghost and wondered if she was clinically insane. 

It turned out, she actually just had brain cancer, which was almost worst. 

The defining scene happened when it finally clicked that Denny's "Izzie, I'm here for you" meant more than a sweet sentiment.

The fate of her character was left to the unknown. Would she die or stay safe from an unfortunate fate?

Sanctuary (Grey's Anatomy Season 6 Episode 23

Sanctuary - Grey's Anatomy Season 6 Episode 23

There were no major characters harmed in the making of this episode, only a couple of interns. Gary Clark walked the halls of the hospital and changed the lives of the doctors forever. 

A few comedic scenes were embedded to offset the increased tension of the episode. 

Many layers were added, including an unfortunate miscarriage, a love confession, and a faked death. 

Song Beneath the Song (Grey's Anatomy Season 7 Episode 18)

Looking On From Above

Any non-musical TV drama with the ability to include a musical episode is simply flexing their complete reign over the airwaves.

This episode showcased Sara Ramirez's beautiful vocals, and just when you thought How to Save A Life by The Frey couldn't get more emotional the entire cast harmonized to prove you wrong.

Callie's fight for her life left us on a roller coaster wondering if the writers would dare take her away as easily as they took away George. 

Thankfully, she narrowly escaped the wrath of death. If you're looking to relive the multi-talented cast's vocals, don't forget to add this one to your list.

Flight (Grey's Anatomy Season 8 Episode 24)

Cristina and Meredith plane crash - Grey's Anatomy

Hands down the finale of all finales completing the season of all seasons. The plane crash that wiped out two huge cast members and made us question everything we thought possible. 

We sat and watched as surgeons struggled to keep each other alive with only a first aid kit.

It was disheartening watching as they nearly gave up, survival episode that was the turning point for some of the doctors. 

Beautiful Doom (Grey's Anatomy Season 9 Episode 5)

Cristina in Minnesota - Grey's Anatomy Season 9 Episode 5

Split between Seattle and Minnesota, the episode prepared Meredith and Cristina for their future long-distance friendship.

After Cristina left Grey Sloan to work in Minnesota following the plane crash, she befriended Thomas, an antiquated surgeon. 

This episode beautifully showcased Cristina's transformation from a hardcore surgeon who held no regard for anyone beyond her own career advancement to a loyal friend who chose to stand by Thomas until his unfortunate demise.

Through nine seasons, she finally learned how lonely it is at the top and having a strong base of friends is more rewarding. 

Fear (of the Unknown) (Grey's Anatomy Season 10 Episode 24)

Cristina in a taxi - Grey's Anatomy

It was a bittersweet episode bidding an emotional farewell to Cristina. The twisted sisters commenced their final dance party, and Cristina offered many words of wisdom to Meredith on the necessity of mocking Alex regularly and not letting McDreamy eclipse her dreams. 

After her decade run with the show, Cristina made sure to leave with a bang, or should I say a boom?

Her final hour showcased a bomb explosion at the local mall which left the trauma wing running around tending to mass casualties.

Ever since Cristina left for Zurich, we've wondered if the show would ever bring her back as a surprise guest. Sadly, we have yet to see that happen. Maybe if we cross our fingers tight enough! 

How to Save a Life (Grey's Anatomy Season 11 Episode 21)

Derek Says Goodbye - Grey's Anatomy Season 11 Episode 21

Proceeding the episode in which Meredith received news of Derek's car crash, we got the full story of how it happened. 

It was a sad episode we never thought would come, and it ended up being the last straw for much of the fandom.

Meredith's paranoia from the previous episode seemed unwarranted, and we attributed it to her PTSD from the plane crash, but perhaps it's true that you can feel when something's not right with your spouse. 

Derek's death left us wondering how the show could even continue. But, as Cristina said earlier, he's not Meredith's sun. 

Unbreak My Heart (Grey's Anatomy Season 12 Episode 11)

Japril - Grey's Anatomy Season 12 Episode 11

If you're a Japril shipper maybe this isn't the episode for you.

Instead, I would advise you to go watch Grey's Anatomy Season 10 Episode 12 when Jackson and April run away from April's wedding. 

Jackson and April's turbulent relationship started hot and heavy but quickly turned sour.

This episode reviewed everything that went wrong in their timeline and made sure to end with a shocking twist. 

True Colors (Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 23)

the rapist - Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 23

How many bomb explosions can one hospital bare? Stephanie exited the show in a blaze of glory, truly. She not only saved a child from an explosion, but she also killed a potential rapist in the process. 

This episode was a continuation from the previous, in which a woman came in after her car drove off a cliff with a man presumed to be her boyfriend.

Later, they found out he was a man who had intended to rape her. Stephanie was held hostage to aid and abet him in his plan to escape. 

However, Stephanie stepped in heroically and cleverly set him aflame while bravely saving the young girl from the fire that broke out after the explosion.

All of Me (Grey's Anatomy Season 14 Episode 24)

Arizona and April

A sad final episode for April and Arizona, but a happy celebration for Alex and Jo. April frantically ran around to try and put together the best wedding, and as per usual, nothing went as planned.  

Alex and Jo got stuck in a shed, a few medical emergencies halted ceremonies, and April and Matthew ended up getting married! 

Mostly happy endings occurred and that's quite a rarity for this show, so if you want to relive some happier moments watch this episode!

Silent All These Years (Grey's Anatomy Season 15 Episode 19)

Grey's Anatomy - Social Justice Season 15 Episode 19

It wasn't the first time the show focused on sexual assault, but it was the hardest and most powerful. 

Jo tracked down her mother and found out the reality behind her mother's abandonment.

While a paralleled storyline brought in a woman who was raped, forcing Jo to confront that she was a product of rape.

Leave a Light On (Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 16

Alex and Izzie Smile - Grey's Anatomy

Quite possibly the most surprising ending for a character Grey's Anatomy has ever accomplished, but definitely the full circle.

It might be an unpopular opinion to the fandom, but we couldn't be any happier Izzie and Alex got their happily ever after. 

Following Izzie's leave on Grey's Anatomy Season 6 Episode 12, we never thought they would reunite, but they're raising twins together and finally living the life they intended before Izzie got cancer. 

Well, there you have it. The cream of the crop.

Do you have an all-time favorite episode? Leave it down in the comments below!

Inga Parkel was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She left the organization in June 2020.

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Grey's Anatomy Quotes

There's a reason I said I'd be happy alone. It wasn't 'cause I thought I'd be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It's easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love and you don't have it? What if you like it and lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It's like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.


MEREDITH: "You don't get to call me a whore. When I met you, I thought I had found the person that I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I was done! All the boys and all the bars and all the obvious daddy issues, who cares? I was done. You left me. You chose Addison. I'm all glued back together now. I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what you broke. You don't get to call me a whore."
DEREK: "This thing with us is finished. It's over."
MEREDITH: "Finally."
DEREK: "Yeah, it's done."
MEREDITH: "It is done."