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Grey's Anatomy Plot Holes That Need Some Explaining

Medical drama "Grey's Anatomy" is, without a doubt, one of the most prolific shows out there. Created by media giant Shonda Rhimes and premiering in 2005 on ABC, the show has run for a whopping 19 seasons, with over 400 episodes and counting as of 2022, and is currently the longest-running scripted primetime medical drama on the network. And while "Grey's" boasts millions of viewers per episode, a fiercely loyal fanbase, and dozens of critical accolades — including countless Emmy nominations – when you're dealing with that many episodes and storylines, there are bound to be a couple of things that fall through the cracks.

From timelines that simply don't add up, to on-the-job scenes that medical professionals have debunked, and plot points that are just plain old unrealistic, "Grey's Anatomy" has made a couple of goofs in its day. But hey, who hasn't? Here are 12 of the show's plot holes that audiences are still waiting for some explanation on.

Izzie and Denny

In terms of outlandish things that happened on "Grey's Anatomy," the relationship between surgeon-in-training, Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), and heart patient, Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), may very well take the cake. The steamy romantic affair kicks off in Season 2, and even if we could look past the fact that a doctor is having a relationship with their patient (and that's a big if, seeing as it's, uh, illegal and all), what Izzie does to save Denny's life would absolutely have caused her to lose her job and her medical license.

Denny is on a pacemaker when he is introduced on the show, and will eventually need a heart transplant. To speed up the process, Izzie cuts his LVAD wire to bump him up to the top of the transplant list. He is then given a new heart, but his body rejects it, and whoever was next in line for the organ doesn't get to receive this life-changing surgery.

This part isn't necessarily the craziest thing in the world — after all, people have always been known to do wild things for love. What's completely unbelievable about this scenario, however, is the fact that Izzie not only keeps her medical license, but eventually gets to keep her job at Seattle Grace Hospital. C'mon, guys. Disbelief can only be suspended so far.

Derek's death

Derek Shepherd's (Patrick Dempsey) death is one of the most devastating episodes. It's sudden, heartbreaking, and completely confusing. After stopping on the side of the highway to heroically help some crash victims, the brain surgeon hits the road again. But then his cellphone rings, and he stops to answer it. Shortly after, his temporarily parked car is hit by a truck, and he dies in the hospital just hours later.

But there's more to be devastated about in this Season 11 episode than McDreamy's death and Dempsey's departure from the series. For one thing, the doctor had just established that there was no service in the area he was driving in. So why does he stop to answer his phone? And, on that note, why does he stop horizontally in the middle of the road to do so? Aren't brain surgeons supposed to be brainy?

Last, but certainly not least, how did he not hear the truck coming from a mile away, seeing as he was on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere? So many of these things are out of Derek's sensible, pragmatic character, which just makes his death that much more tragic.

Callie and Arizona's custody battle

One of the most dramatic storylines in "Grey's Anatomy" takes place in Season 12, when ex-partners, Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw), battle for custody of their daughter, Sofia. Callie threatens to move her across the country with her new girlfriend, Penny, for a year (let's choose to ignore the fact that a judge more than likely wouldn't grant custody to a parent for one single year). Fans of the show were shocked and confused when Arizona won the case, despite Sofia being Callie's biological daughter. Even though Arizona won, Sofia never actually lived under her roof.

Even more confounding was that, soon after the shocking verdict, sweet Arizona has a change of heart and gives Sofia back to Callie. Uh, we're no legal experts, but we're pretty sure the law prevents you from giving back a child to an individual who has lost custody — no matter how heartwarming a moment it might make for.

Meredith's Harper Avery award

In Season 14, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) wins the prestigious Harper Avery Award. This is an exciting, well-earned moment for the show's protagonist, but it also caused some viewers to scratch their heads about previous events.

In Season 10, Meredith's fellow surgeon and best friend, Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), is up for that same award, but loses. Why? Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital is owned by the Harper Avery Foundation, so it's automatically a conflict of interest. The Avery matriarch, Catherine Avery (Debbie Allen) even tells her partner Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) that no one in the hospital could ever win the award. But the hospital is still owned by the Harper Avery Foundation when Meredith wins, so shouldn't it still be a conflict of interest?

Fans have taken to Reddit to figure out the change in rules for the award, but with no clear answer out there, we'll have to simply accept that Cristina missed out.

Miranda's ex-husband

In Season 9, Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) starts a relationship with her co-worker, Ben (Jason Winston George). There's a lot to love about this new romance. Ben is a great new character, and he treats Miranda how she deserves to be treated. But there's one big problem with this new development: Despite sharing their son Tuck, Miranda's ex-husband, Tucker (Cress Williams), is nowhere to be found. When Miranda and Tucker get divorced, he practically disappears off the face of the earth.

This is particularly confusing because Ben essentially takes on fathering duties for Tuck, which is pretty hard to believe Tucker would allow. He was pretty controlling during his marriage with Miranda and didn't even like her working long hours at the hospital. The disappearance of Tucker doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and feels suspiciously like the show's writers wanted to write him off and hoped that audiences would conveniently forget that he was ever in it.

Amelia's brain surgery

Brain surgeon Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone) discovers she has a massive brain tumor after participating in a study in Season 14. She plans surgery to get it removed, but due to the sheer size of the growth, doctors tell her that it will be a very dangerous process and she may not make it out alive — and if she does, she'll probably see some major complications.

Amelia has her surgery, and it's definitely one of the more tense moments of "Grey's Anatomy." But she thankfully makes it out unscathed and is able to get back to work just days later. Now, you don't need to be a brain surgeon to know that you'd probably need more time than that to get back to work after such an intense operation — let alone be allowed to operate on people's brains! According to Neurology and Spine Consults, "in total, it typically takes about four to eight weeks to make a full recovery from a brain surgery." Any hospital worth their salt would know that, even if Amelia had felt up to getting back in the scrubs, it's best to give someone a couple of weeks after they had their literal brain cut open before they jump back into their high-pressure job.

April's peanut allergy

This is a relatively small one, but it's definitely enough to make audiences scratch their heads. In Season 14 of "Grey's Anatomy," April Kepner (Sarah Drew) has an allergic reaction to a peanut product. This alone isn't super noteworthy, but what is pretty dumbfounding is the fact that, at the time, her partner Jackson (Jesse Williams) seems to be discovering her allergy for the first time. Keep in mind, they've been working together for six years and living together for two.

Okay, maybe we can look past this little inconsistency. But to make matters a little more frustrating, this actually isn't April's first run-in with peanuts in the show. According to this Reddit thread, an earlier episode saw the doctor chomping away on peanuts at Joe's in Season 7, and even having a snack drawer full of peanuts in Season 8. Maybe she has a rare case of selective peanut allergies? "Grey's Anatomy" writers, please explain yourselves!

Jo Wilson's name change

One of the most harrowing storylines is the story of Jo Wilson's (Camilla Luddington) troubled past. The surgeon suffered an abusive relationship in which she had to change her name to escape.

Feelings of fear and vulnerability come up for Jo once again when she is asked to testify in court to defend her partner, Alex Karev (Justin Chambers), on an assault charge. She explains that her hesitance to show comes from the fact that she doesn't want her real name to come up, become a part of court transcripts, and have her abusive ex find her that way.

Holes start to show up in her logic, however, when you consider the fact that she legally changed her name. So no one would have any reason to address her by her former name. Plus, the case at hand has nothing to do with her previous lie. Things get even more suspicious when you take into consideration the fact that, in Season 9, Jo testified in Callie Torres' malpractice case. Why wasn't she worried during that trial, too?

Meredith's liver transplant

Meredith Grey is no stranger to reckless behavior in "Grey's Anatomy." In Season 2, she grabs a bomb inside a patient, knowing full well it could blow up at any moment. In Season 6, she tells a gunman who is on a killing spree at her hospital to "shoot me."

But one of Meredith's wildest decisions that no one talks about is drinking the night after giving her dad part of her liver. Granted, this is definitely more of an oversight from the writers than another one of Meredith's brash decisions — but, really? Her surgeons definitely would have advised her not to drink after getting surgery that directly affects her liver. In fact, according to Beth Israel Lahey Health, "you cannot drink alcohol for a full year after surgery to allow your liver to recover." But even where a regular person might have forgotten that instruction, Meredith is a literal surgeon who deals with the liver all the time, so there's no way she thought that was a good idea!

Andrew DeLuca's mom

After surgeon Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) gets attacked by Alex in Season 13 over an epic misunderstanding, Maggie (Kelly McCreary) tells someone to call Andrew's mom pronto. This is a normal response from Maggie, of course — except for the fact that it was established in an earlier episode that Andrew's mom died when he was younger, and later, DeLuca has a vision of his dead mom.

This isn't even the only inconsistency that comes with Andrew's character. In Callie and Arizona's custody hearing, he says that he has never spent much time with kids. But in an earlier episode, he said that he grew up in a big family surrounded by kids at all times. So which one is it, DeLuca?

Some fans theorize that this inconsistency comes from "Grey's Anatomy" producer and writer, Krista Vernoff, who left the show after Season 7, only to come back for later episodes. And while this is only a guess, a popular fan theory suggests that Vernoff didn't watch the seasons of the show that she wasn't attached to.

Meredith's return to Grey Sloan

As previously mentioned, Season 11 sees what is easily one of the saddest moments in the entire show: Derek's untimely and highly-preventable death. But this event also sees one of the show's most unrealistic events. After her husband passes away, Meredith (understandably) goes off the grid for a little while, and it turns out that part of the reason she does this is to give birth to her and her late husband's daughter, Ellis, in peace.

And if you're wondering how she gets her job back at Grey Sloan after leaving unannounced for such a long time, well she basically just ... waltzes right back in. We know that Meredith is hot stuff and all, but come on. Of course, we're glad that Mer got her job back — because what is "Grey's Anatomy" without Meredith Grey? But we can all admit that this plot point is just a little bit of a stretch.