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The Most Frustrating Grey's Anatomy Deaths Ever

Deaths on a medical show are not exactly unusual, especially one whose central hospital, at one point in time, earned itself the nickname "Seattle Grace Mercy Death." Patients perish in more episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" than not, sometimes in the background, sometimes as the primary storyline, sometimes after long battles with persistent diseases, other times nearly instantly due to unusual accidents or natural disasters.

Still, even though we expect people to die in the dramatic world of "Grey's Anatomy," some deaths tend to be a lot more frustrating than others. Whether it's a character we only knew for a couple episodes or one we grew to love over the course of many seasons, sometimes the circumstances surrounding a death can make the loss not only sad or even tragic, but deeply irritating. 

With 17 seasons in the books, there's no shortage of deaths of every type. Below are the ones that left audiences most aggravated, with frustrations that lingered long after the characters drew their final breath.

Bonnie Crasnoff drew the short straw

In the Season 2 episode "Into You Like a Train," Bonnie Crasnoff (Monica Keena) was one of two patients impaled together on a pole during a train crash. Despite the extensive nature of their injuries, Bonnie had a sense of humor about her situation, making jokes with the other patient who was stuck on the pole with her. However, the doctors of Seattle Grace (renamed Grey Sloan Memorial in later seasons) soon realized that the pole was actually keeping their injuries stable, and upon removal, they'd only have a chance of saving one of them.

Since Bonnie was the patient with the most extensive injuries, the choice is made to prioritize the other one when removing the pole, much to Meredith's (Ellen Pompeo) dismay, since she felt a kinship with Bonnie. After the pole is removed, Bonnie rapidly bleeds out — and all of the doctors, except for Meredith, quickly move on to the other patient as Meredith makes a futile attempt to save her. 

After her efforts prove to be in vain, Bonnie dies — frustrating not only because she was young and likable, but because she died after the choice was made to prioritize someone else's life over hers.

Dylan Young gets pink misted

We meet "Bomb Squad Guy" Dylan Young (Kyle Chandler) in the Season 2 episode "It's the End of the World," which has a patient coming into the emergency room with an open chest wound full of undetonated ammunition from a homemade bazooka. 

Once the doctors realize that there's a live bomb in the operating room, the medical staff clears out — except for Meredith, who leaves her hand in the patient's chest to keep the patient and the ammunition stable. Enter the bomb squad, where Young talks Meredith through the safe and agonizingly slow removal of the bomb.

Once the bomb is out of Meredith's hands and the doctors are able to swoop in to save the patient, it seems as though the worst is behind them. But just as it feels like everyone can breathe again, the bomb explodes in Dylan's hands, turning him into little more than pink mist. It seems extremely unfair to kill him off after he acted so heroically and did everything right — and the scene rightfully leaves a disbelieving Meredith shell-shocked.

Denny Duquette made all that work feel like a waste

Charismatic heart transplant patient Denny Duquette (Jeffery Dean Morgan) was introduced during Season 2 of "Grey's Anatomy" as he repeatedly visited the hospital for assistance with his failing heart. Over the course of the season, he fell in love with intern Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), and eventually even asked her to marry him. In turn, Izzie grew more and more desperate in her attempts to save Denny's life, going so far as to sabotage his treatment in order to move him up the transplant list so he could more quickly receive a new heart.

But as extreme as Izzie's methods were, they seemed to pay off. Denny received the heart, the transplant was successful, and it looked as though he was on the road to a full recovery. But he developed a blood clot while resting alone in his hospital room, dying of a stroke. Denny's death after everything he, Izzie, and the other doctors went through felt like a betrayal, since it seemed like he was out of the woods. Plus, it facilitated one of the most frustrating "Grey's Anatomy" storylines down the road, when Denny infamously returned as a ghost to help Izzie realize she had cancer.

Logistical issues killed Nick Hanscom

Countless patients of the week have come and gone from the halls and rooms of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, some under their own volition following a successful surgery, others in body bags. Of course, every time the doctors of "Grey's Anatomy" aren't able to save a patient, it's sad; it's worse when the patient is endearing. But worst of all is when those deaths happen because logistics get in the way of proper medical care.

That's what happened with Nick Hanscom (Seth Green) in the two-part Season 4 episode "Crash Into me." A patient of Mark Sloan (Eric Dane), Nick was recovering from a surgery that left only a very thin flap of skin covering his carotid artery. Sloan prepared the staff for what to do if the artery ruptured, but when it finally happened — due to, of all things, Nick laughing while flirting with Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh) — all the operating rooms were full. While Sloan did what he could in a sterile procedure room, it wasn't enough, and Nick died. Later, a stunned Lexie voiced her opinion that Nick didn't have to die, but that "we killed him."

George O'Malley got thrown under the bus

It took five seasons for "Grey's Anatomy" to kill one of its own main characters, and when it finally happened, no one saw it coming — literally. At the beginning of the Season 5 finale, "Now or Never," the doctors find out George O'Malley (T.R. Knight) has enlisted in the army, then spend the episode planning an intervention to talk him out of it. Meanwhile, Meredith treats an unidentified man who had been horribly disfigured after jumping in front of a bus to save a woman, then getting dragged under it himself.

These two storylines come together at the end of the episode, when Meredith's patient finally manages to convey to her that he actually is George. Upon realizing that, the doctors rush George into surgery in an attempt to save his life, but are ultimately unsuccessful, and it is revealed in the Season 6 premiere that George died. George's death came at the end of a season in which his character was largely sidelined, and although he died a hero, it was frustrating to lose him in such a horrible way — especially when his friends spent most of his last episode with no idea that the friend they're all talking about is lying on the bed right in front of them.

An elevator could've saved Charles Percy

Following the merger of Seattle Grace and Mercy West into a single hospital, a new crop of surgical residents joined the original "Grey's Anatomy" crew — and at first, they weren't particularly endearing. Charles Percy (Robert Baker) was pompous and insensitive, and none of the residents from Seattle Grace seemed to like him all that much. But when a mass shooter attacks the hospital in the Season 6 episode "Sanctuary" and shoots Charles in the stomach, it's hard not to feel bad for him.

At first, it seems like Charles may live. After all, the talented, level-headed Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) is with him. But after temporarily treating Charles' injury and dragging him to the elevators with the help of patient Mary Portman (Mandy Moore), Miranda realizes her plan to take him to the OR isn't going to work, because the police have locked down the building, turning the elevators off. Without access to the proper equipment, a defeated Miranda informs Charles that he's going to die, and sits with him until he passes away. 

Charles was a frustrating character, but no one deserves to die in such a manner, and the state-of-the-art medical equipment frustratingly located an impossible elevator ride away made his death that much worse.

Mary Portman survived a deadly attack only to die in a routine procedure

Poor Mary Portman (Mandy Moore) was in the wrong place at the wrong time, heading to the hospital with her husband for a simple colostomy bag reversal surgery right before a gunman opened fire on the people inside. While Mary's husband had left to find her something to eat, Mary was in her room with Miranda Bailey and Charles Percy when the shooting began. Thinking quickly, Miranda told her to play dead so the shooter wouldn't harm her — which Mary managed to do, despite her fear.

After the shooter left the floor, she bravely helped Miranda care for Charles, even though their efforts would ultimately prove to be in vain. But after surviving the shooting and returning to the hospital six months later for the rescheduled surgery, Mary's good luck ran out. 

In the Season 7 episode "These Arms of Mine," Miranda performs the surgery flawlessly, telling Mary's husband that everything went well and Mary should wake up soon — except, she never does. In a rare complication, Mary never comes out of the anesthesia, and is eventually taken off life support after her organs begin to fail. It is an immensely frustrating end to a character who had managed to survive so much, only to die young from a freak medical complication.

Lexie Grey was killed in the prime of her life

Meredith's younger half-sister Lexie (Chyler Leigh) showed up eager to learn — and to spend time with the sister she never knew she had. Initially, Meredith resisted Lexie's attempts to establish any sort of sisterly bond, but eventually realized it was unfair to blame her for her parents' toxic relationship their offspring, and the two gradually grew closer. 

Lexie also had an on-again, off-again relationship with Mark Sloan (Eric Dane); although the two had strong feelings for each other, they could never seem to get their timing quite right.

Those storylines were abruptly cut short in the Season 8 finale "Flight," which had Lexie, Mark, Meredith, and several other doctors stranded in the woods following a plane crash. While all of the doctors initially survive the crash, Lexie is trapped inside the crumpled wreckage of the plane, and realizes she doesn't have long to live. In her final minutes, Mark professes his love to her and tells her they'll get married, but it's just a dream, since she dies moments later, not even halfway into the episode. It's a frustrating ending for a character who felt like she had a lot of her story still left to tell.

Mark Sloan tricked us into thinking he might be okay

Following the loss of Lexie in the Season 8 finale, Mark met the same fate in the Season 9 premiere, "Going, Going, Gone." But his death was even more frustrating than hers, because for most of the episode, it seems as though he's going to get better. 

After Meredith and Cristina (Sandra Oh) realized Mark was bleeding internally and had to MacGyver a treatment for a cardiac tamponade in the woods, Mark was airlifted to a hospital for treatment, then transferred back to Seattle Grace Mercy West. There, after a months-long convalescence, he finally woke up and seemed to feel much better.

Unfortunately, what he was experiencing was a brief surge of adrenaline that patients sometimes experience before they begin to rapidly decline. Mark spends the day acting like his old self, before slipping into a coma and eventually dying after being taken off life support. As if the fake-out of making it look like he might recover isn't bad enough, Mark also realizes what's happening to him and asks for Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) to hurry and bring his daughter to him from daycare, so that he can see her one last time. But Mark loses consciousness just before Jackson returns, twisting the knife in the hearts of viewers just a little bit more.

Henry Burton had us all rooting for him

Introduced in Season 7, Henry Burton (Scott Foley) comes to the hospital as an endearing patient without insurance, seeking treatment for Von-Hippel-Lindau syndrome. Rather than turn him away, Dr. Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) impulsively offers to marry him so that he can be on her insurance. Henry eventually agrees, and is able to receive regular treatment under Teddy's insurance.

However, what starts out as simply a marriage of convenience eventually turns into something more, and Henry gradually realizes that he's falling for Teddy. She tells him she doesn't feel the same, but later changes her mind and the two officially become a couple. But the two hadn't been together for long before he was admitted to the hospital with a tumor near his heart that was causing internal bleeding in the Season 8 episode "Dark Was the Night." As the head of cardiothoracic surgery, Teddy was the most qualified to perform the surgery, but she couldn't do it because of her personal feelings. Instead, she asked Cristina (Sandra Oh) to do it, but didn't inform her of the patient's identity.

Cristina did everything right, but there was simply too much damage, and Henry died. Afterward, Teddy made an already heartbreaking death even more frustrating by forcing Cristina to relive the surgery over and over so that she could try to figure out what could have been done differently — but ultimately realizing that nothing could have saved Henry.

Adele Webber's death was painfully slow

Chief of Surgery Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.) was not a particularly faithful husband, having had an intense past affair with Meredith's mother during their residency, and later having another one with Catherine Fox (Debbie Allen). But despite such infidelities, he still loved his wife Adele (Loretta Devine), who stuck by his side. When she began exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer's in Season 7, Richard was initially in denial of her diagnosis, but was eventually forced to admit his wife's rapidly-accelerating condition.

Adele deteriorated over time, until he realized she was no longer safe at home alone and needed the care of a dedicated mental care facility. After moving her into one, Richard continued to visit, but her condition worsened until she could no longer remember him at all, and Richard realized his visits were only upsetting her. 

As Adele was in the facility, he began seeing Catherine, but returned to her side when Adele was admitted to the ER at the beginning of Season 9. Despite Meredith and Miranda performing a successful surgery, Adele's heart couldn't take it, and she died of a heart attack later that day. 

Her death resulted from the long, agonizing decline of an endlessly frustrating disease, made even worse by the difficulties in Richard and Adele's marriage, making things so hard on them both before Alzheimer's even became part of the equation.

Derek Shepherd was killed by incompetence

As part of the central couple of "Grey's Anatomy" for the first decade of its run, neurosurgeon Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) a.k.a. "McDreamy" seemed like he'd be untouchable, even for the Grim Reaper. Unfortunately, no one is completely off limits on "Grey's Anatomy," and Derek eventually met his end in the Season 11 episode, "How to Save a Life," after heroically saving all the victims of a horrible car crash. When they were taken to the hospital and Derek returned to his car to leave, he was hit by a truck.

Derek was rushed to the nearest hospital, but it was a rural facility without a trauma center. Still, they probably could have treated him effectively if they'd performed the correct scans — but they didn't, and by the time they realized what they'd missed, it was too late. How do we know this? Because although Derek is unconscious for most of the episode, he's still able to observe what is happening to him, and explains all the ways the doctors are messing up in a voiceover. 

When it became time for Meredith to disconnect her husband from life support, the audience knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if he'd received proper medical care, he'd probably still be alive — which made the death all the more frustrating.

Andrew DeLuca was murdered in a season already filled with too much death

Following the death of Derek, it takes a long time for Meredith to dip a toe into the romantic waters again. But after several seasons alone, the person who finally seems to work his way into her heart is Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti), one of the surgical residents she helped train. DeLuca was a promising surgeon with a gift for diagnostics and a passion for patient care — but his undiagnosed bipolar disorder and depression threatened to derail his entire career, along with their relationship.

Eventually, the two broke up but remained friends, and Andrew began receiving treatment to help him manage his mental health. Things seemed to be getting back on track, and he was even promoted to attending. But Andrew's upward trajectory was cut short when, in Season 17, he took it upon himself to trail one of the perpetrators of a child trafficking scheme through the streets of Seattle. 

Although he successfully assisted the police, he was stabbed by an unseen accomplice, and later succumbed to his injuries at the hospital in the episode "Helplessly Hoping." Having a doctor senselessly murdered in the middle of a season already bowing under the weight of a global pandemic — right when he was finally beginning to get his life back on track — felt needlessly cruel, even if he did go out as a hero.

Chad Anderson hit way too close to home

While most of the characters on this list were beloved long-running cast members or affable guest stars, Chad Anderson (Coby Ryan McLaughlin) is an irritating exception, embodying a real-life frustration many viewers have likely experienced in their own lives. In the Season 17 episode "Sign O' the Times," Chad is brought to the hospital after collapsing while jogging. As is the policy in hospitals in 2020, Miranda calls for a COVID test, which comes back positive. Chad's disease had actually progressed quite a bit, but Miranda was still hopeful that she could treat him effectively and help him recover.

Unfortunately, Chad refused to believe that COVID-19 was real, telling Miranda that all he needed was a refill for his inhaler. Despite her detailing his symptoms, many of which were quite severe, Chad insisted on downplaying his condition and argued against her diagnosis. He checked himself out against medical advice, still maintaining that COVID-19 was a hoax and that Miranda was lying to him. 

In the end, his disease didn't care whether or not he believed in it, and felled him in the parking lot. Several doctors tried to resuscitate him, but were unable to bring him back. While there's no guarantee that Miranda could have saved him, even if he had consented to treatment, it was deeply frustrating to watch him argue against, and eventually die from, the very real disease that has killed millions worldwide and hundreds of thousands in the U.S. — a number which could possibly be much lower if not for people like Chad.