It has been a hell of a season for the top-rated, longstanding medical drama.
If Grey's Anatomy Season 16 didn't do anything else, it kept fans talking.
It had love triangles, relationship drama, patient advocacy, mental illness storylines, and the unexpected and shocking exit of veteran actor Justin Chambers that left fans and the series reeling.
We were better acquainted with the Grey's-verse with Station 19 crossovers, and the rocky season came to an early close thanks to a pandemic.
But it managed to work as a season finale with quite the cliffhanger, and the season ended on a stronger note than it started.
Let's dig into this highly-discussed season and talk about what worked and what didn't.
St. Meredith Grey the Martyr - Did NOT Work
Oh, this is definitely a storyline that left a sour taste in your mouth. Meredith was at her most self-righteous as she doubled down on one of the dumbest, most nonsensical choices to date.
What was supposed to be an arc that focused on Meredith taking on the poor state of the American Healthcare System, something that was already a dodgy storyline this late in the game for the show, became about the persecution of Meredith Grey as she fought to keep her medical license.
Bailey was vilified by half the hospital for firing Meredith, Alex, and Richard despite having grounds. Meredith routinely showed that she has learned nothing when she consistently disregarded authority and her punishment to play martyr savior.
The entire arc was spent justifying Meredith's actions as she skirted accountability and shifting the focus away from what the initial premise was supposed to be: the flawed healthcare system.
Bottle Episodes - Worked
For the most part, the series does a fantastic job when they slow things down, limit their humongous cast to a few characters and dig deeper into them with focused episodes.
Whether it was awkward family dinners, Levi getting in touch with his family and faith and taking control of his life, Maggie operating on her distant relative, or Teddy's past with Alison revealed, the installments had mixed reviews, but the focus is always appreciated.
The Station 19 Crossovers - Didn't Work
In theory, the weekly crossovers could be interesting, but they ended up being messy. It forced viewers to watch both shows to know what was going on with some characters and plot points, and while you could manage without it, the installments lacked cohesion.
Grey's suffered the most with this since it became evident that the sole point was to boost the spinoff's ratings. Even the giant crossover that kicked everything off was lacking a real crossover feel.
The Addition of Cormac Hayes - Worked
You have to give it to Grey's Anatomy. They know how to strike gold with some of their new additions, particularly the men. We saw it with the addition of Link, Koracick, and Levi, and now Hayes joins the ranks.
Cristina's Irish gift is one that keeps on giving. The more time we spend with McWidow, the more likable he is, and he's been one of the highlights of the season. Can we keep him? Please?!
He's talented, handsome, easygoing, and he has chemistry with everyone he comes into contact with on the show. His backstory losing his wife was one of the most heartbreaking developments of the season, and he's a total scene-stealer. He also is a promising romantic option for Meredith.
Romantic Merluca - Didn't Work
Are they both attractive? Yes. Is it nice that the show is exploring an older woman/younger man romance? Sure.
The problem isn't that Mer is dating her subordinate and that he's younger than her. The problem is that these two are on different pages, and it makes it difficult to root for them.
Meredith went from stating she was in love with DeLuca to implying they were a fling. They worked to convince us they should be a couple, but then kept undercutting it and walking it back.
She doesn't seem to respect him as her romantic equal, and he's often intimidated by any potential competition. He's also trying to prove that he's worthy of her, and she doesn't take him as seriously as she should.
It's painful to watch.
They work well together professionally, and she's been a nurturing, supportive, and almost sororal presence for him, the latter killing the romantic vibe.
Suzanne Medical Mystery - Worked
Sarah Rafferty guest-starred for a short arc this season, and it was one of the best medical cases the show has had in some time. Longstanding patients are always more intriguing than one-offs, and Suzanne was no exception.
Suzanne's case took us back to the medicine and diagnosis. DeLuca, Meredith, and others were scrambling to figure out what was wrong with her, and it was a lengthy process, but it was engaging too.
Dr. Lauren Riley - Mostly Worked
The only downside to Dr. Riley's arc was that it was shortlived, and they shuffled her away too soon. DeLuca brought her in because of her expertise, but then the majority of the doctors questioned, undermined, and ignored her.
Deaf doctors portrayed on TV are rare enough to be notable, and Riley made her presence known. It's too bad we didn't get more time with her.
The Sisterhood Disconnect - Didn't Work
The sisterhood between Mer, Amelia, and Maggie is one of the best aspects of this series, but it was at its absolute worst during this season. Meredith was more self-consumed than ever before.
She checked out and didn't know anything that was happening with her sisters. Maggie stepped up when Meredith was working through her court issues and in jail. Maggie stepped in to support Amelia. But neither sister was there for Maggie after she lost her cousin and quit her job.
It was as if they didn't know what she was going through. Meredith wasn't there while Amelia was going through her relationship and pregnancy issues. Amelia was hardly there for Meredith's hearing. And neither sister reacted to Alex's departure.
Amelink - Worked
We're going to ignore that entire debacle that threatened to derail the only decent relationship regularly showed on the series when Amelia behaved like a child because Link had the audacity to want to know if the child she was carrying was his.
THAT aside, Amelia and Link were the best part of the series. Their relationship is the most endearing, and they're a fantastic match. They had to figure out how they felt about one another while also coming to grips with expecting a child.
Their relationship was fast-tracked, but for once, it wasn't a bad thing. Link is the BEST guy, and his love and devotion to Amelia are unparalleled. And this is the most mature and stable relationship Amelia has had on this series, and despite a few mishaps, she has grown and matured.
Baby Daddy Drama - Didn't Work
Did we need it? Did we? No, we did not.
Amelia and Owen's relationship was over.
The chapter was closed, and it should've remained shut. Owen has a bazillion children already, so a drawn-out "baby daddy" arc was unnecessary.
Jo and Link Friendship - Worked
Surprisingly, Jo and Link's friendship feels settled into despite the introduction of this bond being relatively new to viewers.
It's the best friendship Jo has had on the series -- one that sheds her in a much better light than her previous ones.
They would do anything for one another, and they always have each others' backs serving as confidants.
In the absence of so many core platonic dynamics, theirs was a comfort.
Character Assassination Extravaganza - Didn't Work
Arguably, all of these characters are flawed. They were all capable of screwing up, but the extent of how far their characters fell during this season is almost surreal.
Jackson's relationship drama and childish behavior reached a new level of suck and had him at his most unlikable to date. Alex was a shell of what he used to be leading to his departure. Meredith went off the rails all season long with her self-righteous behavior.
DeLuca was all over the place before his mental illness arc. Bailey went on a tirade, that was fairly justified, but then they undermined her reasoning by claiming she was jealous of Mer.
For some reason, the season wanted to make Tom an insensitive villain, and how do you even describe Teddy Altman's arc? Tragic.
Richard's Medical Mystery Arc - Worked
After getting sidelined with the Pac-North saga, and whatever that was with Catherine, the season got our attention when Richard fell ill, and we didn't know what was wrong with him.
Richard is the backbone of the series and the one person that brings everyone together.
It was nice to have the hospital staff stop in its tracks and come together to figure out what was wrong with their beloved mentor and friend. And of course, James Pickens Jr gave us another rousing performance.
Vickson - Didn't Work
As a Station 19 fan, it was hard when Vic jumped into a relationship so soon after Ripley's death. Because of the timeline, we barely got to mourn his loss or watch her do the same. And she and Jackson's relationship felt out of the blue and never went anywhere.
As a Grey's fan, it was a pointless storyline. Vic was something for Jackson to do, and it was a weak storyline for a character who has been around as long as he has been. He didn't have any other arc all season.
It also highlighted that Jackson sucks in all of his relationships.
DeLuca's Mental Illness Storyline - Mostly Worked
The execution of this storyline was all over the place. They introduced it out of the blue, then spent too long not confirming that DeLuca was, in fact, Bipolar. His initial behavior didn't necessarily align with his disorder, so we spent too long wondering if he actually was ill.
Most of his colleagues, friends, and family spent more time gaslighting him than making legitimate attempts to help. And the series would drop the story and then pick it up and run with it again at the strangest times.
Nevermind that Carina went from concern over her brother to focusing on Maya on Station 19, and there was an opportunity missed having Bailey, someone who has also had experience being disregarded for her mental illness, connecting with DeLuca.
However, where the storyline had some issues, Giacomo Gianniotti did not. He was incredible, and it was some of his best work and performances on the series to date. He poured his heart and soul into his performance, and as a result, it was the most affecting of the season.
Hopefully, the story will pick up again, and the series will delve deeper into it during Grey's Anatomy Season 17.
The Carina Conundrum - Didn't Work
Carina is a fun-loving character, and it's too bad Grey's Anatomy doesn't know what to do with her. They already tread dicey territory by reducing one of their bisexual characters to a bedwarmer.
The majority of Carina's storylines have involved sleeping with someone, and outside of that, she's the doting, concerned sister to DeLuca.
Except, Carina's involvement with Andrew's mental health storyline ended once Meredith stepped in. It could've been a beautiful arc with the DeLuca siblings coping with this themselves, but it shifted to DeLuca and Meredith and DeLuca versus the others.
Carina then spent most of her time on Station 19 as a supporting role to Maya, barely addressing what happened with her brother. But at least she gets more to do on Station 19, so maybe they can ship her over there.
New Dynamics and Friendships - Worked
With a cast this huge, it's easy to mix, match, and play around with different dynamics that maybe weren't previously explored. The season had a lot of that happening, and it made things fun and interesting.
By the end of the season, Levi moved in with Jo, and they became fast friends as roommates.
Jo and Jackson have developed quite a bond recently. Amelia and Bailey were part of the pregnancy club, and it was beautiful how Bailey helped Amelia through her labor in a callback to when O'Malley helped her.
Teddy's Love Triangle and Infidelity - Didn't Work
We can debate to the cows come home whether or not it was in character for Teddy to be this much of a hot mess all this time later, but the Tom, Teddy, and Owen love triangle is exhaustive.
The best part about it was how Link and Amelia managed to extricate themselves from the TOTAL pentagon.
The unresolved love triangle will now span three seasons.
All parties of it are failing. Owen heard his fiancee getting it on with the guy he hates, Teddy is using Tom, and Teddy doesn't seem to know who or what she wants and has blown up her world. Credit where it's due, it has certainly been entertaining.
Teddy's Bisexuality Reveal - Kinda Worked
Aside from the fact that she's a serial cheater who named her child after the deceased love of her life and did not inform Owen of this, it was the type of pleasant shock that the series does well.
It was cool that we met Allison via flashbacks, and we got a better understanding of Teddy.
But again, tying Teddy's bisexuality with infidelity and promiscuity reinforces negative stigmas.
Levi - Works/ The Other Residents Falling By the Wayside - Doesn't Work
Levi has come a long way fairly quick with his own storylines and a centric episode.
He has become a fan-favorite for a good reason. And it has been a gratifying storyline to have him come into his own and become a more confident, proud, and accomplished person and doctor.
The only downside to all of this Levi is that the other residents fall by the wayside. Helm isn't nearly as developed as a character in comparison. And Parker has the most potential, but we barely see him at all.
The season even gave us a potentially fantastic storyline for this character when he had a triggered PTSI episode in the aftermath of the car crash at Joe's, and Alex Blue Davis was incredible during the installment, but it was the last we saw of him and that storyline.
Bokhee Love and Acknowledgment - Works
Who doesn't love Bokhee? She has more presence than she's ever in the past couple of seasons, and the show is all the better for it.
Bokhee is the absolute best, and every time the series shows her, it's enough to make you smile.
It's hard not to enjoy how the series has incorporated her into their lives more than they ever have before.
Maggie Meeting and Operating on Sabi - Mostly Worked
It was a tragic storyline, and not only did it lead to Sabi's death but a lawsuit as well. However, it was long overdue for the show to explore Maggie getting to know Richard's family. They don't touch upon their biological connection and all that entails nearly enough.
It was disheartening that Maggie was isolated during this storyline and couldn't rely on the support of her sisters.
Instead, we got some touching but brief moments with Richard and Alex, and an odd one with Jackson. And after losing her mother, it was awful that Maggie had her cousin ripped away from her before they could get to know each other.
But it was a solid arc for Maggie given the nature of the season. Even if it could've been executed better.
Bailey Unofficially Adopting Joey - Worked
Bailey's miscarriage was devastating and enraging.
It was bad enough that they threw surprise pregnancies at us twice during the season, but then they destroyed one of them just as we adjusted.
However, they pursued a different angle when Bailey grew attached to her young patient, Joey, and decided to bring him home to stay with her, Ben, and Tuck. It was heartwarming.
Alex's Lack of Storyline - Didn't Work
While it sucked that Alex got fired, there was a brief time where Chief Alex Karev running Pac-North had potential. It seemed as though after years of lackluster storylines, he would get something substantial of his own.
But then it never went anywhere, and nothing happened with it.
It's unfortunate that in the last days before Justin Chambers' abrupt departure, he was saddled with a storyline that seemed as though he was phoning it in.
Lack of Merlex - Didn't Work
Technically, Alex and Meredith's last scene together was when he spoke on her behalf during Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 8.
But it wasn't as though they shared a specific one on one scene, and we didn't have much of their friendship at all before he left. A
s the last ones remaining from M.A.G.I.C, it was disappointing.
Alex's Swan Song - Didn't Work
To be fair, the writers had their work cut out for them trying to create a satisfactory ending for a veteran character at the last minute.
And many people were thrilled by the Izzex endgame and happy ending, but everything leading up to this reveal was frustrating.
Alex went MIA and wasn't communicating with anyone. Mer didn't even know he was gone for ages, and she showed zero interest when Jo was freaking out about it.
We got voiceovers of Alex reading "Dear John" letters he wrote to Mer, Bailey, Richard, and Jo. They revisited the frozen embryos storyline and glossed over how screwed up it was that Alex didn't find out he had children until he called Izzie for something else.
He never told any of them what was happening and lied about his whereabouts and then ghosted his wife and loved ones.
Alex wasn't likable after all of that, and for some of us, the kids angle didn't soften the blow or detract from that.
His absence became less about his character and more about how it could be used to advance Jo's storyline.
And the lack of closure with some of the other bonds he formed over the years or their reaction to his departure was disappointing too.
Overall Grade: C-
It was a rough season for Grey's Anatomy, and the series is starting to show it's age. The season started on the rocky side, and it never got its footing. It didn't start hitting a stride until the final few installments of the season.
The insurance fraud storyline was unsatisfactory and was derailed.
Sadly, Alex departed the series abruptly, and his storyline leading up to it was lackluster. The love triangles and entanglements were overbearing.
Some of the tension was more contrived than interesting, such as the Amelink fallout, or the Maggie and Jackson and Richard and Catherine disputes. Not enough time was devoted to digging deep into stronger storylines like DeLuca's mental illness.
More often than not, the season lacked cohesion, and many of the characters strayed from what we've known. And there was too much focus on integrating and improving Station 19 at the expense of Grey's Anatomy.
But the season did bring us Cormac Hayes, who was a highlight. Levi and Jo had strong character arcs throughout the season. The season gave us many nostalgic factors with Meredith's trial and Alex's farewell episode.
And Amelia and Link became the most endearing pairing. Amelia had a successful pregnancy, and the pair have a healthy child. Grey's Anatomy's sweet 16 was more on the sour side, but they kept us entertained.
Over to you, Grey's Fanatics. What are your thoughts on the season? What would you grade it? Hit the comments below with all of your thoughts!
You can watch Grey's Anatomy online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on Twitter.