Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

This Is The Exact Moment Grey's Anatomy Jumped The Shark

If you're a longtime "Grey's Anatomy" fan, when you read the title of this article, a million possibilities likely floated through your mind regarding what could possibly be the exact moment when this long-running medical series jumped the shark. 

There are truly so many, many choices. There's the time Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) stuck her hand into a guy's chest to steady an unexploded bomb, which would go on to explode Coach Taylor from "Friday Night Lights." There's the time Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) spent an entire episode performing CPR on a deer. There's the time a lady came into Seattle-Grace-Grey-Sloan-Memorial Hospital with a gun shoved into her unmentionables. Really, there's a multitude of options for the craziest moment on "Grey's Anatomy." That is, to be fair, part of the fun of the show — its heightened, wild swings can be delightful, but they can also be so, so stupid.

Choosing just one absolutely insane, over-the-top, completely absurd "Grey's Anatomy" plotline wasn't exactly simple, but one moment — which lasted for an entire episode — takes the cake. There's no question: when it comes to the dumbest moments on "Grey's Anatomy," there is no bigger shark jump than the musical episode, "Song Beneath the Song," in the show's seventh season, for the fact that it finally established the once-beloved medical drama as having gone ludicrously off the rails.

Grey's Anatomy jumped the shark with its musical episode

The musical episode of "Grey's Anatomy" isn't just the moment where the series jumped the shark. It's also the show's worst episode by several thousand miles. After Callie Torres (Sara Ramírez) and Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) get in a car accident en route to a romantic getaway, the gang at Seattle Grace rushes to save not just Callie's life, but the life of her unborn child. On paper, this seems like a boilerplate "Grey's Anatomy" catastrophe, like the Season 3 ferry crash or the Season 6 mass shooting. In practice, it's the weirdest thing you'll ever see, because everyone starts singing.

The way the show tries to do this is by having Callie hallucinate that the doctors are singing around her, much like the far more successful Scrubs episode "My Musical" did with a patient. The difference here is that "My Musical" is good. "Song Beneath the Song" has a bunch of gorgeous people who can't sing crooning songs previously featured on the show, like The Fray's "How to Save a Life" and Anna Nalick's "Breathe (2 A.M.)" To be fair, Ramírez, who won a Tony for their supporting role in Broadway's "Spamalot," is an amazing singer, but the tone of this installment is so off that you can't even fully appreciate that.

Most "Grey's Anatomy" fans probably skip this episode during rewatches, and that makes sense. It's cringy, painful to watch, and just generally absurd — and not in the typical fun way "Grey's Anatomy" is often absurd. It also is a textbook example of a series giving in to all its worst tendencies without any payoff. 

Honorable mention of when Grey's Anatomy nearly jumped the shark: The time Izzie sleeps with her dead fiancé

However, while we've pinpointed the musical as the worst of the worst, no evaluation is complete without looking at the many other times "Grey's Anatomy" tried its best to jump the shark. For instance, while the musical episode takes the cake in terms of sheer stupidity, it was, at least, confined to a single episode — whereas the plotline where Izzie hallucinates her dead fiancé Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and starts sleeping with him lasts for several episodes. 

In the show's fifth season, Izzie starts seeing strange visions of Denny, who died in Season 2 after a whole mess of events where she cut his LVAD wire to steal a heart for him only to have him die of a post-transplant stroke. Denny and Izzie never slept together in real life, so it surprises Izzie when she's able to get down and dirty with a literal hallucination, and she just, uh, does that. For several episodes. She blows off work and her surgical residency to... well, there's an obvious joke here that we won't print. Izzie's friends notice that she's acting kind of weird, but none of them bother to ask any follow-up questions about why she's constantly disappearing.

This all comes to a head when Izzie realizes she's only seeing the very dead Denny because she has a tumor and stage 4 skin cancer, which is a far more interesting storyline that absolutely did not need the dumbest possible preamble. Izzie survives — and then vanishes from the show after Heigl started acting up and ran into conflict with showrunner Shonda Rhimes — but the whole "sleeping with her dead fiancé" thing will always be her weird, dumb legacy on the series.

Second honorable mention: Alex's bizarre Grey's Anatomy sendoff (or lack thereof)

However, the honorable mentions don't end there. 

Characters leave "Grey's Anatomy" all the time. Hell, even Meredith Grey herself "moved to Boston" when Pompeo decided she was done with the series. After almost two decades on the show, it made sense that Justin Chambers, who played Alex Karev from the original pilot onwards, might want to move on with his life and occasionally see his family. The way the show decided to write him off, though, is completely deranged.

In Season 16 of the series, after it was announced that Chambers would exit the series, the character of Alex Karev — one of the show's most prominent characters, point in fact — abruptly vanished, writing a letter to his best friend Meredith and his wife (!) Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington) saying that he found out that his first wife, Izzie, had two children using eggs they fertilized while she was sick. Upon receiving this news, Alex's response was to, apparently, abandon his entire life with a moment's notice and go live on a farm with Izzie and their kids. This is, to put it lightly, out of nowhere. There was never any indication that Alex was carrying a torch for Izzie or that he would care about her having their kids, so this explanation doesn't hold an ounce of water.

Alex was one of the show's best characters and showed absolutely incredible growth throughout his time on "Grey's Anatomy," and watching — or rather, not watching him — leave the show in this rushed, awful way was pretty devastating and really, really dumb.

Honorable mention #3: The time Grey's Anatomy had a lion roaming Seattle

However, let's circle back to that musical episode, because its most dire legacy is how it paved the way for even sillier escalations that went so far beyond the show's original concept that successive shark jumps became a regular occurrence. With that in mind, one cannot possibly write an article about "Grey's Anatomy" jumping the shark and not bring up the time a different dangerous predator ended up roaming the streets of Seattle. In the eighteenth episode of Season 8, the doctors at Seattle Grace end up dealing with multiple injuries caused by an escaped lion wandering the streets of the city. Did the lion escape from a zoo, or perhaps a traveling circus of some kind? 

No, of course not, because this is "Grey's Anatomy" in its post-musical run, so it was somebody's pet lion. When a woman comes in with severe lion-related injuries, she won't stop asking about "Kirby," and at first, nobody can figure out who Kirby is. As it turns out, it's her pet lion, not the guy she came in with — whose name is Paul (Danny Strong), and whom her pet also attacked. 

Do we even need to go on? This is so dumb. But again, as ridiculous as this, Alex's sendoff, and Izzie's ghost sex may all be, we have to emphasize that it was the musical episode that really was the show's downfall, and here's why.

When all is said and done, the musical episode of Grey's Anatomy is the exact shark-jumping moment

So, yeah. There are clearly a lot of options for the exact moment where "Grey's Anatomy" straps on a metaphorical pair of water skis and leaps over a shark, but the musical episode ultimately takes the cake — because after that, there was blood in the waters, and the sharks were feasting.

A large part of this is due to the fact that tonally, the episode is just all wrong. "Grey's Anatomy" has heightened, often insane medical cases, but because Shonda Rhimes and her team are uniformly excellent at building their characters and making them feel real, the interpersonal parts of the series tend to ground moments where, like, a guy is trapped in a block of cement or someone has a tree growing in their lungs (those both really happened). Making skilled, serious actors like Sandra Oh and Kevin McKidd burst into song — cover songs, to boot! — is just really embarrassing for everyone involved, and according to an archived copy of a blog post Rhimes wrote about the episode, other people thought so too.

As Rhimes recalled, "The network thought it was the dumbest idea they'd ever heard of and refused to do it." In the end, Rhimes clearly got her way, as she tended to do during her time as the "Grey's Anatomy" showrunner. 

She probably should have listened to the network in this case, though, because it really is as dumb as they thought. In any case, you can relive these "Grey's Anatomy" moments, if you want, on Netflix and Hulu now.