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30 Best Grey's Anatomy Episodes Ranked

Introduced as a mid-season replacement in 2005, executives never could have known that "Grey's Anatomy," a medical drama created by Shonda Rhimes — and named as a cheeky nod to the famous medical textbook "Gray's Anatomy" — would become one of the network's all-time biggest hits. Over many seasons and hundreds of episodes, fans have feverishly followed the career of Dr. Meredith Grey, from her origins as a timid intern with a famous surgeon for a mother to becoming a legendary doctor in her own right.

Throughout its run, the hospital at the center of "Grey's Anatomy" sees plenty of drama, from various romantic entanglements to natural disasters to shocking events — including plane crashes, mass murders, and ferry boat accidents. From a disgruntled (and armed) grieving widower roaming the hospital to some seriously difficult episodes to some of the show's biggest romantic moments, here are the best episodes of "Grey's Anatomy," as decided by fans on IMDb. Major spoilers ahead!

30. Deterioration of the Fight or Flight Response (Season 2, Episode 26)

The first season of "Grey's Anatomy" might've been brief, clocking in at just eight episodes, but Season 2, which spans a whopping 27 episodes and contains plenty of drama throughout, more than makes up for that fact. And while the second half of the Season 2 finale, "Losing My Religion," is often touted by fans as one of the season's very best episodes, the first half, "Deterioration of the Fight or Flight Response," sets up every domino perfectly for the following episode.

As the episode opens, Izzie has just recently snipped Denny's LVAD wire in an attempt to move him up on the transplant list, as her fellow interns rally around her and argue about whether or not they should help her break the law. Meanwhile, as Izzie waits for Burke to come and perform Denny's heart transplant before he dies, she and Burke's girlfriend, Cristina, receive some seriously frightening news: Burke has been shot. Amidst all of this, Dr. Webber's niece, Camille (a "Grey's Anatomy" cameo by Tessa Thompson), arrives at the hospital with an embarrassing problem ... only to discover that her ovarian cancer has returned. "Losing My Religion" might be the more popular installment, but this episode puts all of the pieces in place.

29. 17 Seconds (Season 2, Episode 25)

Before the epic second season of "Grey's Anatomy" can come to an end, everything has to be set in motion, which is exactly what happens in "17 Seconds," the last episode before the beloved two-part finale. While they treat victims of a shooting at a local restaurant where a gunman opened fire on the employees — though he's really aiming for his awful boss — the doctors at Seattle Grace cope with their own personal problems, including Izzie, Denny, Addison, Meredith, and Derek.

Thanks to an argument over the fact that Meredith is dating Finn, Derek and Meredith are barely speaking, even as they watch their shared dog, Doc, suffer from bone cancer that's spreading throughout his body. Suspicious, Addison asks Meredith if anything is going on ... only to discover who the younger doctor is romantically involved with, which culminates in a huge fight between Addison and Derek. 

On top of everything else, Izzie — who's just discovered that her boyfriend, Denny, is only 17 seconds behind the first person on the list for a heart transplant — devises a terrible plan, and in the last few moments of the episode, Burke gets shot by the same shooter who attacked the restaurant. As far as "Grey's" episodes go, "17 Seconds" definitely brings the drama.

28. Into You Like a Train (Season 2, Episode 6)

In yet another example of a totally bizarre (and likely unrealistic) medical case, after a locomotive derails in the Season 2 episode "Into You Like a Train," doctors have to treat two patients — Bonnie and Tom — who are impaled together on a pole. And with the clock ticking, the doctors have to figure out who they should remove first. Meanwhile, Meredith, on the heels of her epic "pick me, choose me, love me" speech to Derek, is mainlining tequila at Joe's, the bar right near the hospital, and has to pull herself together to try to save Bonnie's life.

As Alex loses a patient unexpectedly in the aftermath of the crash, Cristina searches for a missing foot, Izzie treats two pregnant patients with serious burns, Meredith waits for an answer from Derek ... only for him to tell her that he's staying with Addison after all. Heartbroken, Meredith fights for Bonnie, only to lose her on the table, leaving the heroine of the show in a seriously rough place as the episode comes to a close.

27. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (Season 12, Episode 5)

When it comes to unforgettable deaths on "Grey's," fans will never forget the death of Dr. Derek Shepherd, who — after helping victims of a car accident on the side of the road — is struck by a truck while driving his own car. Brought to a small hospital without adequate resources to help him, Derek, unable to speak and severely injured, is left brain dead after the hospital staff fails to give him a head CT that would've saved his life.

After Meredith grapples with Derek's death at the small hospital and confronts the resident whose inaction led to his death, she returns home to Seattle after an absence, presumably on the mend emotionally ... until Meredith's colleague, Callie Torres, brings that same resident, Dr. Penny Blake, to a dinner party at Meredith's house, unaware that her new girlfriend was involved in Derek's death. When Bailey reveals that Penny is transferring to Grey Sloan Memorial as a surgical resident, Meredith loses it, declaring that she can't work with "the woman who killed Derek," setting off emotional reactions from anyone in the room. Add in a drunken Arizona, plenty of cooking problems, and Meredith's half-sister Maggie, and you've got a classic "Grey's" episode.

26. The Distance (Season 11, Episode 14)

The doctors on "Grey's Anatomy" definitely save a lot of lives, but they also experience a ton of medical ailments themselves, from brain tumors to gunshot wounds to lost limbs. For example, take Dr. Amelia Shepherd, sister to famed neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd — as well as an accomplished brain surgeon in her own right — who finds herself in the center of the Season 11 episode "The Distance." The plot kicks off when she's asked to operate on legendary neonatal surgeon Dr. Nicole Herman, mentor to Arizona, who has a seemingly inoperable tumor that Amelia must work around in order to try to save her life.

After a lot of protesting and grumbling, Dr. Herman finally allows Amelia to do the surgery, but when faced directly with the tumor, Amelia isn't sure where she should even begin ... and eventually realizes that she can't remove the tumor without damaging some sort of Dr. Herman's brain. Ultimately, Dr. Herman loses her sight as a result of the surgery, but she survives, proving that even the best doctors, including Amelia, have limitations when the human body presents an impossible problem.

25. The Time Warp (Season 6, Episode 15)

In Season 6's "The Time Warp," Derek, who takes over from Dr. Webber as the hospital's chief of surgery, decides to reinstate a lecture series, which allows for the series to flash back to earlier times in the lives of several of the doctors and lets us to see where they came from. Webber, Bailey, and Callie — the last of whom is terrified of public speaking — all take the stage to detail some of their most memorable cases, and the results are pretty spectacular.

While Webber goes all the way back to his days working alongside Meredith's mother (and his secret lover), Dr. Ellis Grey – played in flashback by Sarah Paulson – Callie's story finds her transforming a young man's club foot, and it's a tale that's much more recent. Meanwhile, the now-formidable Dr. Bailey details her time as a resident, though it probably leaves out the details the audience sees — which is that Bailey, as a meek, shy intern working under a brutal resident played by Missi Pyle, solved a medical mystery despite being foiled by her superior at every turn. "The Time Warp" doesn't have any modern medical wonders, but that doesn't make this episode any less exciting.

24. I Saw What I Saw (Season 6, Episode 6)

Introducing an innovative narrative structure to an episode well into a series' run is always a good idea if the creative team can pull it off, and with the Season 6 episode "I Saw What I Saw," the team behind "Grey's Anatomy" proved they were definitely up to the task. Told in flashbacks from several points of view, the episode focuses on the aftermath of a fire in a crowded hotel that left tons of victims seriously injured, including Cathy, a mother traveling with her young son. At first glance, Cathy seems okay, but when she ends up dying in the emergency room, the attending surgeons are forced to figure out where the blame lies, getting accounts from residents who spent their night in the E.R. bouncing from patient to patient.

Each doctor is questioned in turn, but as it becomes more and more confusing as to who handled Cathy, everyone is at a loss, especially since the incident happens so soon after Seattle Grace merges with Mercy West (doubling the hospital's residents). In the end, it turns out that new addition Dr. April Kepner didn't check Cathy's airway upon arrival, which directly led to her death, resulting in April's expulsion from the program and an even more stressful environment amongst the competitive residents.

23. Here's to Future Days (Season 5, Episode 23)

After Meredith and Derek give up the church wedding they honestly never wanted to let Izzie and Alex get married in the wake of her cancer diagnosis, Derek comes to a startling realization. He finally knows how he can operate on Izzie's dangerous brain tumor. Armed with confidence and newfound knowledge, Derek does some tests on Izzie, only to discover that if he operates in the vicinity of the tumor, Izzie could lose her memory or even the power to speak. After dealing with her mother's debilitating Alzheimer's, Meredith begs Izzie not to get the surgery, but Izzie's newly minted husband demands that she have it for both of their sakes.

At first, Izzie isn't sure what to do, but she has a sudden realization when her new friend, Alison, a fellow cancer patient who needs emergency surgery and leaves the operating room without the ability to breathe on her own. Devastated by Alison's experience with an aggressive form of chemotherapy, Izzie agrees to have the surgery and goes under the knife ... just after she signs a "do not resuscitate" order, leaving her loved ones in flux.

22. Cold as Ice (Season 14, Episode 23)

In yet another example of a doctor ending up in a life-threatening situation on "Grey's," Season 14 features a penultimate episode where one of the hospital's most beloved doctors ends up surrounded by her fellow surgeons as they try to rescue her from the brink of death. As Jo and Alex's wedding approaches, April, who loves weddings as much as the couple hates them, agrees to plan the nuptials, but her friends grow worried when she doesn't show up for planning-related events.

As it turns out, April and her former fiancé, Matthew, were out for a car ride and got into an accident, and though the team finds Matthew first, they later find April freezing cold and deep in a ravine. Though she's in dire, icy straits, her fellow surgeons rush to help her survive the ordeal, and eventually, she does recover, much to the relief of her ex-husband, Jackson Avery, and their daughter, Harriet, along with all of her friends and loved ones.

21. Perfect Storm (Season 9, Episode 24)

Natural disasters are a dime a dozen on "Grey's Anatomy," and time after time, they put these Seattle surgeons in some super dangerous situations. And the Season 9 finale, "Perfect Storm," follows that formula perfectly. 

In the midst of a storm boasting hurricane-level winds, Meredith goes into labor with her and Derek's second child as the power to the entire hospital keeps flickering. Meanwhile, Arizona — in the aftermath of losing her leg in a plane crash and dealing with her increasingly troubled marriage to Callie — sleeps with craniofacial surgeon Dr. Lauren Boswell, who's at the hospital consulting on a pediatric case.

Before long, things get very bad very quickly. Meredith starts bleeding out after her delivery with only a few residents to save her, Callie discovers Arizona's betrayal thanks to her inside-out scrub top, and Jackson throws himself into a burning bus to save a young girl. Ultimately, Bailey saves Meredith's life (and Meredith names her son after her savior), and Jackson survives, but the episode ends on a cliffhanger with Richard in the hospital basement, lying in a puddle of water after being electrocuted near the power system.

20. Remember the Time (Season 9, Episode 2)

One of the most harrowing events to affect the main characters in the history of "Grey's" is the plane crash that closes out Season 8, where Meredith, Derek, Cristina, Arizona, Meredith's sister Lexie, and Derek's best friend Mark are injured. Tragically, Lexie and Mark, a star-crossed couple, end up losing their lives in the aftermath. And as Season 9 begins, the survivors of the crash are traumatized. Arizona has lost her leg, Cristina is catatonic, and Derek's hand barely functions, threatening his career as an award-winning surgeon.

"Remember the Time," the second episode of Season 9, shows viewers the immediate aftermath of the plane crash, from the residents who were set to leave Seattle returning to the hospital to Arizona's simmering resentment over the loss of her leg (due to the fact that her wife, Callie, ordered the amputation). However, the reason this episode is legendary amongst "Grey's" fans is almost certainly Cristina's harrowing bathtub monologue, where she tells Owen exactly what happened in the woods after the crash.

19. Walk on Water and Drowning on Dry Land (Season 3, Episodes 15 and 16)

Early in its run, "Grey's" thrived on two-part disaster episodes, and in the Season 3 duo "Walk on Water" and "Drowning on Dry Land," viewers watch as a ferry crash puts one of the hospital's most important figures in mortal peril. Called to the waterfront to deal with a massive boat wreck with hundreds of victims, the residents are faced with countless challenges, and unfortunately, Meredith isn't at her best. After her mother recently regained lucidity, the two had a horrible interaction, leaving Meredith doubting all of her life choices.

As Izzie, who's just returned to the surgical rotation, prepares to do a life-saving surgery on a whim in the field and Cristina tries to figure out how to tell Meredith about her engagement, everything turns on a dime when Meredith — trying to help a little girl and a distraught, injured man — is knocked into the water ... and doesn't swim. In the second installment, Meredith's loved ones find out that her life is in danger and wait as Webber and Bailey desperately try to save her life, saying they won't rest until she's "warm and dead" (the same tactic they use in "Cold as Ice" for April). Whether or not Meredith will wake up is a question the next episode answers, giving viewers a gripping cliffhanger as "Drowning on Dry Land" comes to a close.

18. Personal Jesus (Season 14, Episode 10)

Throughout her run on "Grey's," April's enduring Christian faith is one of her most important attributes, as her belief in God helps her through some of the toughest parts of her job. However, in "Personal Jesus," her savior falls short as one of the worst days of April's career comes to pass, resulting in some harrowing personal tragedies even her faith can't explain.

As Paul Stadler, Jo's abusive husband, arrives at the hospital as the victim of a hit-and-run — which Meredith assumes is Jo and Alex's doing, even though they turn out to be innocent — April is met with a surprising patient: Karin, the wife of April's scorned ex-fiancé, Matthew. Elsewhere in the hospital, Jackson and several other Black doctors try to keep their emotions in check when a young Black boy suspected of committing a crime — although he was just trying to get into his own house after forgetting his keys — is shot by police. In a tragic twist, both the young boy and Karin die (as does Paul), leaving April bereft and hopeless. Most "Grey's" fans could've never imagined that an April-centric episode would be quite this good, but "Personal Jesus" proves itself as one of the show's darkest and most intense hours.

17. Freedom Part 2 (Season 4, Episode 17)

After the events of "Freedom Part 1," the first half of the Season 4 finale, Meredith and Derek find themselves at odds over their groundbreaking surgical trial. Derek, disheartened by all of the patients they've lost, wants to end it, while Meredith wants to admit one more patient, Beth. Meanwhile, other doctors try to free a young man who decided to lie down in fresh cement as a dare, Cristina regains her surgical groove thanks to a pager that alerts her to every new surgery, and Alex's troubled girlfriend, Rebecca, has some extremely troubling mental health problems.

Even though Derek doesn't want to take Beth on as a patient, Meredith manipulates the system so that he does so anyway, and in the end, he's rewarded for his efforts. Beth survives and becomes the first success of his groundbreaking trial. As a result, Meredith and Derek, who spend the better part of Season 4 apart, reunite in a house made of candles, truly "rekindling" their romance once and for all.

16. Sweet Surrender (Season 5, Episode 20)

As the fifth season of "Grey's" draws to a close, there's plenty of drama throughout the hospital, as per usual. Meredith and Derek's wedding is fast approaching, Izzie is undergoing chemotherapy, and Derek and Mark are fighting thanks to the fact that Mark is dating Meredith's younger half-sister, Lexie (whom Derek affectionately refers to as "Little Grey"). Meanwhile, Callie's strict father — played by rom-com legend Hector Elizondo — stops by the hospital to visit, only to receive quite a shock when his daughter introduces him to her new partner, Arizona Robbins.

As Izzie starts feeling the effects of her chemo, Arizona delivers a touching speech to Callie's father about sticking by your children no matter what. Plus, Meredith unwillingly prepares for her wedding, Derek and Mark finally make up, and George discovers his true surgical passion: trauma. "Sweet Surrender" might not be a crazy season finale, but it's a fan-favorite episode for plenty of reasons nonetheless.

15. My Shot (Season 16, Episode 8)

An episode named for a "Hamilton" ditty, season 16 episode "My Shot" tackles the aftermath of Meredith's suspension by the medical board — which she incurred after falsifying insurance information to help a sick child. With her license on the line, Meredith is concerned that she'll never be legally permitted to operate again, but her friends and colleagues help her out until the very end.

The hearing gets off to a pretty rocky start when one of the doctors on the panel begins criticizing Meredith personally — only for her to point out that he was one of the physicians present when Derek died. After their confrontation, another doctor on the panel has a seizure. When he needs surgery, the hearing is nearly postponed ... until Alex brings a parade of Meredith's former patients into the room, all of whom traveled to speak on her behalf. Fans of "Grey's" know that Meredith is a great doctor, but in "My Shot," it's gratifying to watch the people she's treated help her retain her medical license.

14. Stand by Me (Season 5, Episode 18)

Being a surgeon is clearly a difficult job for countless reasons, one of which is losing a patient despite your best efforts. Such a case deeply affects Derek in the Season 5 episode "Stand by Me." Derek is inconsolable after losing a pregnant woman despite multiple operations — especially when he finds out that he's lost far more patients than he's saved. To cope, Derek retreats to his trailer in the woods. When colleagues Callie Torres and Owen show up, they all end up wallowing about their hardest losses.

Meanwhile, as older residents, Meredith and George are forced to deal with a troublesome intern love triangle — one which has left several of their charges bloodied, crying, and otherwise injured. This all happens while Cristina prepares for her first solo surgery and tries to help Izzie get treatment for her advanced skin cancer. By balancing the seriousness of Derek's mental breakdown with the silly intern drama, "Stand by Me" emerges as one of the best examples of the show's skill at straddling several moods at once.

13. Elevator Love Letter (Season 5, Episode 19)

Season 5's "Elevator Love Letter," which features one of the show's biggest romantic moments, also opens with an unsettling scene depicting post-traumatic stress disorder. As Cristina and Owen fall asleep next to each other, Owen, a veteran, finds himself disturbed by her ceiling fan. This leads to a horrifying scene where an unconscious Owen chokes Cristina in his sleep. Devastated but loyal to Owen, Cristina seeks help from Meredith — who is furious at Owen and, by extension, Cristina.

Amidst this, Derek is trying to figure out the best way to finally propose to Meredith after years of buildup. He also has to perform surgery on Izzie's brain tumor, leading to a hectic day throughout the hospital. After Derek proposes in an elevatored lined with scans of cases he and Meredith worked on together, Meredith tells Cristina she's engaged ... only for Cristina to reveal that she split up with Owen. The episode's central story might focus on Derek and Meredith, but it's only right that it ends with Meredith and Cristina by one another's side.

12. Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story (Season 14, Episode 7)

Shonda Rhimes is a huge fan of the hit show "Hamilton," and she went on to name several episodes of "Grey's" after Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical — including the landmark 300th episode in Season 14, "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story."

As Meredith prepares to attend the ceremony for the Harper Avery Awards as a nominee — a prestigious award that her late mother, Dr. Ellis Grey, won multiple times — an accident at a carnival brings a group of surgical residents to the hospital. The incoming patients remind the doctors of George, Cristina, and Izzie (all of whom have left the series by this point). Despite protests from her coworkers, Meredith elects to stay behind and perform surgery on the resident who reminds her of Cristina ... only to live stream into the Harper Averys and discover that she won the award. As Meredith stands in the O.R., watching her friends and loved ones cheer her on from the gallery, she sees the specter of Ellis smiling down at her — bringing a difficult mother-daughter journey to a heartwarming and satisfying conclusion.

11. Stairway to Heaven (Season 5, Episode 13)

"Grey's Anatomy" tends to explore morally gray areas. During a Season 5 storyline in which a convicted murderer gets moved to the hospital from death row, Meredith and Derek's opposing beliefs are truly put to the test. Rather than simply let killer William Dunn die of his neurological injuries, Derek says the man doesn't deserve pity and is hellbent on saving him. Meanwhile, Meredith finds herself weirdly drawn to the man. When a dying young boy desperately needs organ donation, Meredith tries to convince William to injure himself further — infuriating Derek after he discovers the ruse.

The young boy ultimately gets organs from a different patient, and William receives surgery, returns to Death Row, and is executed by the state of Washington. As a twisted act of compassion, Meredith attends the execution and watches William die, breaking down in her car afterwards. Derek, at a loss, begs Cristina — with whom Meredith has been fighting — for help, and the two make up as Cristina consoles Meredith. "Stairway to Heaven" might seem like a pretty dark episode, but as Meredith and Cristina rekindle their friendship, even this unsettling episode has a happy ending.

10. Suddenly (Season 8, Episode 10)

Picking up directly where "Dark Was the Night" leaves off, Season 8 episode "Suddenly" sees Meredith and Alex struggling to save a family on the side of the road after a car accident, as well as the aftermath of Henry's death at Cristina's hands. After the ambulance is hit by another car, Meredith and Alex are forced to keep a struggling infant alive — as well as the rest of the family, most of whom are dire condition.

Once Meredith and Alex finally return to the hospital, the daughter, Lily — the only healthy one — watches as both of her parents die despite multiple attempts to save them. Meanwhile, Teddy, involved in a different cardiac surgery, grows frustrated when Cristina refuses to answer her pages. Ultimately, Owen and Cristina are forced to reveal the truth: Henry died on the table, and there was nothing that they could have done. Between Lily's losses and Teddy's abject grief, "Suddenly" is a devastating installment of "Grey's Anatomy," leaving the audience to sympathize with multiple people grieve their loved ones ... and gives audiences a moment of relief when Derek and Meredith are granted custody of Zola.

9. Losing My Religion (Season 2, Episode 27)

After an abbreviated first season, "Grey's Anatomy" truly became a television phenomenon in its second season, building to the season's unforgettable finale, "Losing My Religion." As "Saturday Night Live" standout Stefon might say, this episode has everything, from a devastating death to an illicit affair to a prom held in the hospital after hours — and it all builds into a dramatic, gripping conclusion.

The latter half of Season Two builds up the ongoing relationship between Izzie and her patient Denny, driving it to a truly dangerous point. When Denny narrowly misses out on a heart transplant, Izzie nearly kills him by cutting the wire to his LVAD (a mechanical heart pump), worsening his condition so he gets the first available heart. By "Losing My Religion," Denny has a brand new heart — and has proposed to Izzie, who says yes — but as Izzie heads to visit Denny before the prom, he dies suddenly, leaving her to find his body.

Elsewhere in the hospital, the interns are all suspended over Denny's LVAD wire, Meredith and Derek rekindle their relationship — despite having other dates to the prom — and Richard must make a difficult family decision when it turns out his niece, Camille, is dying of cancer.

8. What a Difference a Day Makes (Season 5, Episode 22)

Weddings are a regular occurrence on "Grey's Anatomy" — putting aside the fact that every single doctor seems to attend every wedding, which would seem to leave the hospital dangerously understaffed — but in the Season 5 episode "What a Difference a Day Makes," the bride and groom go through several switches before the wedding even takes place.

As Izzie recovers from her first round of surgeries — and plans a fairytale wedding for Derek and Meredith, which neither of them particularly want — she makes the unsettling discovery that she's still hallucinating her dead fiancé, Denny Duquette. Aware that Denny's presence means she has another tumor, Izzie asks Bailey and Derek to investigate ... only to discover that the tumor seems to be inoperable. As a surprise, Derek and Meredith make a sacrifice on the spot, handing their "perfect" wedding to Izzie herself — who marries Alex that very day. When you consider that a bus full of graduating college students filled the emergency room shortly before the wedding, creating multiple surgeries and categories, there's no doubt that "What a Difference a Day Makes" remains one of the show's best episodes.

7. Dark Was the Night (Season 8, Episode 9)

Many of "Grey's Anatomy's" very best episodes feature several different intense plotlines overlapping, which is likely why the Season 8 episode "Dark Was the Night" is such a fan favorite. After Teddy marries Henry, a patient who needs health insurance, as a kindness to help him get his treatment, the two end up falling in love. When Henry needs a relatively simple cardiac surgery, Teddy tells Owen to have Cristina perform it, saying that they can easily cover Henry's face and hide his identity from Cristina. However, because this is "Grey's Anatomy," Henry's body is too weak to withstand the surgery, and he dies. When Cristina realizes who she just lost, she breaks down, while Teddy is still in a different O.R., oblivious to her husband's death.

Add Derek and Meredith's continued struggle to regain custody of their adopted daughter, Zola — and an ambulance accident during a thunderstorm that leaves Meredith and Alex in danger — into the mix, and it's easy to understand why "Dark Was the Night" is so popular. Beyond that, the episode even ends on a major cliffhanger, leaving the viewer on edge even if they've seen the series multiple times.

6. Fear (Of the Unknown) (Season 10, Episode 24)

Derek and Meredith might seem like the central couple of "Grey's Anatomy" — but the truth is that Meredith and Cristina are the series' most important duo, referring to one another as their "person" and sticking together no matter what. With that in mind, fans were understandably devastated when Sandra Oh announced that she would leave Cristina Yang and "Grey's Anatomy" behind after its tenth season. Thankfully, Cristina's final episode, the Season 10 closer "Fear (Of the Unknown), provided a perfect, emotional, and poignant ending for this beloved character — and her relationship with Meredith.

After losing a prestigious surgical award due to some petty behind-the-scenes politics, Cristina doesn't know what to do. She is eventually presented with an opportunity: her ex-fiancé, Dr. Preston Burke, wants her to take his place as the head of a cardiac department at an esteemed Zurich hospital. Despite the opportunity, Cristina drags her feet in leaving. Before she does, she and Meredith "dance it out" once last time, culminating in one of the show's sweetest moments. Telling Meredith that she can't sacrifice her needs for Derek, Cristina delivers one last piece of wisdom: "He's very dreamy, but he is not the sun. You are." Cristina Yang is one of the best television characters in recent memory, and in "Fear (Of the Unknown)," she gets the amazing ending she deserves.

5. The Sound of Silence (Season 12, Episode 9)

Meredith Grey goes through some pretty horrible stuff throughout "Grey's Anatomy," but one of her most harrowing experiences comes halfway through Season 12 in one of the show's toughest hours: "The Sound of Silence." Directed by Denzel Washington, the episode sees Meredith get attacked by a patient suffering from a severe neurological episode. Left alone with him, Meredith is brutally beaten, laying in an exam room for an extended period of time without anyone realizing what happened to her.

Meredith survives the attack, but at a great cost: her hearing has been seriously damaged, and her jaw is wired shut as she recovers. As a result, most of the episode occurs in silence or near-silence as Meredith's hearing slowly returns, chronicling her difficult and arduous recovery. In perhaps the most harrowing moment of the episode, Meredith's three children — Zola, Bailey, and Ellis — are brought to visit her in the hospital ... but they leave in horror after her appearance scares them, putting Meredith in a state of pure panic. Pompeo's performance in this episode is one of her best in the entirety of the series. Though you know deep down that Meredith, a consummate survivor, will be alright, "The Sound of Silence" will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire run.

4. It's the End of the World and As We Know It (Season 2, Episode 16 and 17)

Early in its run, "Grey's" made a name for itself with wildly unrealistic yet fascinating medical oddities, and the two-part season two arc "It's The End of the World" and "As We Know It" features one of the show's most famous cases: a bomb in a body cavity. After two men make a homemade bazooka and fire it, one of them ends up with the unexploded ammunition inside of his chest. Paramedic Hannah has to hold the bomb still as surgeons try to figure out a course of action. When Hannah flees the scene, it's up to Meredith to hold the bomb still, aided by bomb squad leader Dylan Young.

As Meredith grapples with this incredibly dangerous situation, the rest of the hospital is thrown into turmoil — especially when Bailey goes into labor after her husband is injured in a car accident. High-stakes drama is definitely one of "Grey's" signatures, and this two-part episode is both heightened and emotionally grounded all at the same time

3. Now or Never (Season 5, Episode 24)

Anyone who's stuck with "Grey's Anatomy" since the very beginning knows that shocking, major character deaths happen constantly throughout the season — in fact, it seems as if the death rate amongst the doctors at this Seattle hospital is higher than it is for the patients undergoing risky procedures. However, one of the most surprising departures comes courtesy of the season five finale "Now or Never."

As the episode begins in the aftermath of surgery to remove a brain tumor, Dr. Izzie Stevens' memory is in terrible shape – infuriating her husband, Dr. Alex Karev. Meanwhile, Dr. George O'Malley, with the help of former military medic Dr. Owen Hunt, decides to enlist in the army as a medic himself. George's friends are appalled, worried he'll be killed immediately, and prepare an intervention ... only to focus all of their attention on a seriously wounded man who saved a woman from an oncoming bus and was dragged through the road as a result. After a horrified Meredith realizes that the unrecognizable bus victim is actually George, the doctors rally to save two of their own as Izzie also flatlines. Knight departed the show after this episode, but as far as swan songs go, "Now or Never" was a pretty great exit.

2. Silent All These Years (Season 15, Episode 19)

There's no denying that keeping a show's momentum going across seemingly countless seasons and episodes can be a huge challenge, but the team behind "Grey's" proved that they could still shock and surprise audiences well into the series' fifteenth season. In the gripping, difficult episode "Silent All These Years," resident Jo Wilson and cardio chief Dr. Teddy Altman are confronted with a traumatized patient who, despite initially denying it, eventually admits that she was sexually assaulted at a bar the night before. Afraid to tell her husband or be around any men, the patient clings to Jo and Teddy, who tenderly walk her through a process that can put her on a path to justice and help her heal. Amidst all of this, the episode shows flashbacks to Jo's recent trip to Pittsburgh, where she meets the birth mother who abandoned her and learns that she is actually the product of her mother's sexual assault.

Juxtaposing Jo's discovery against one patient's story is as deeply moving as it is effective, and between the episode's unflinching look at trauma brought on by sexual assault — which creator Shonda Rhimes insisted stay in the episode despite backlash from network executives — and an unforgettable scene where women of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital line the walls to show their support for the patient, "Silent All These Years" is a tough watch at times, but it's incredibly important.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

1. Sanctuary and Death and All His Friends (Season 6, Episode 24)

When it comes to season finales, "Grey's Anatomy" always has huge surprises up its sleeve — and Rhimes' talent for writing intense, dramatic finales has never been better than the two-part Season 6 closer "Sanctuary" and "Death and All His Friends." Written by Rhimes herself, the episode begins with Meredith finding out that she and her husband, Dr. Derek Shepherd, are expecting a baby. It starts off on a cheerful note ... until things quickly devolve when Gary Clark, whose wife recently died at the hospital under Derek's supervision, shows up with a gun.

From there, Gary goes on a murderous rampage throughout the hospital, indiscriminately killing doctors left and right as he tries to track down Derek himself — eventually cornering the Chief of Surgery and attacking him. After Derek is shot, Meredith suffers a staggering trauma of her own. Throughout the hospital, various doctors work furiously to save their colleagues from certain death. From Miranda Bailey's ingenious fib that saves her life to a scene where Meredith's best friend Cristina Yang operates on Derek while being held at gunpoint, this frighteningly intense and thrilling two-part episode is a near-perfect installment of "Grey's Anatomy" — and clearly, fans think so too.