Grey's Anatomy

10 Ways Grey’s Anatomy Has Changed Over The Years (For Better Or Worse)

Grey's Anatomy is the longest-running medical drama in television history. Its years on air have produced positive and disappointing changes.

Grey’s Anatomy is the longest-running medical drama in television history. The show’s success as the number one show on ABC network has helped Shonda Rhimes actualize her dream to “rule the world through television.” Now in its 18th season, Grey’s Anatomy continues to captivate audiences around the world with its groundbreaking storylines and impressive acting.

The titular character Meredith Grey has kept the show’s core alive through her tumultuous journey and complex relationships. Grey’s Anatomy has made history and obtained several accolades – just as the themes have enhanced over the years, Grey’s also made a few mistakes over its 17-year run.

Warning: Topics on sexual assault and violence discussed below

10Better: Grey’s Isn’t Afraid To Tackle Tough Topics

From its first season Grey’s Anatomy produced characters that were experiencing relatable illnesses and traumas. In season one’s second episode a young woman was brought into the hospital after she was found unconscious and brutally beaten. A man attempted to rape her but she was able to fight him off. Years later in season 15, Jo Wilson confronts the mother who gave her up for adoption when she was a baby. Jo’s mother tells her that she was a product of rape and it was too difficult to keep her.

When Jo returns to work she treats a woman who was violently assaulted and raped. As they transported the patient to her surgical room, Jo requested that all of the female staff line the hallway. This moving display differed from the series’ first rape victim. The storyline was more detailed and graphic. It conveyed the horrors of sexual assault while also exhibiting female  empowerment and support.

9Worse: There Are Too Many New Characters

Fans became attached to Grey’s central characters. Even with the series’ ensemble cast, the first 8 seasons were easy to follow and invest in. Unfortunately, after season 9 introduced a new set of interns, Grey’s started to lose the intimacy that used to be ingrained in its storylines.

Though new interns were introduced before, there wasn’t a lot of time dedicated to them individually. Now, there’s either too much time dedicated to side characters or they receive forced storylines that are difficult for fans to become invested in.

8Better: Character Centric Episodes Give Fans A Closer Look At Their Favorite Characters

Grey’s Anatomy began developing character centric episodes which allowed fans to spend more time with their favorite characters.  Couples like Jackson and April, and Callie and Arizona have had episodes dedicated to the rise, fall, and rise of their relationships.

Additionally, though the series is set around Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, it’s always fun to see characters interact in unique settings. By taking characters out of their typical surroundings, audiences are able to get a more detailed look at who each character really is.

7Worse: Death Has Become A Common Exit Strategy

One of the drawbacks to maintaining a show that’s been on for over 17 years is creative differences. While actors are excited and grateful to be a part of a successful show, overtime it’s natural for them to want to branch out and see what else is out there.

As a result, showrunners have no choice but to write certain characters out of the show to respect their wishes. Unfortunately for Grey’s, their go-to exit strategy is death. Death has become so common that they don’t hold the same impact they used to when the series began.

6Better: The Return Of Past Characters Make For Special Episodes

Though fans miss the days of McDreamy and McSteamy, their absence leaves room for exciting episodes in the future. Not even death can keep some of these characters from making a special guest appearance.

In Meredith’s dream sequence, she was visited by some of fans’ most beloved characters. Derek, George, Mark, and Lexie all came back from beyond the grave to visit Meredith. Aside from reintroducing characters that were killed off, Grey’s also brought back fan favorites like Ellis Grey, Thatcher Grey, and most recently Addison Montgomery, giving loyal fans a healthy dose of longing nostalgia.

5Worse: The Dream Sequences Are A Bit Overdone

Though dream sequences occasionally make for interesting episodes, Grey’s has gotten too comfortable with the concept. While fans were excited to see beloved characters return, many felt like Meredith’s dream world went on too long.

Later when Teddy enters a dream sequence that helps her through her depression, fans were fed up. Overusing alluring concepts quickly causes audiences’ eyes to glaze over and hope for normalcy.

4Better: Meredith Finally Gets The Recognition She Deserves

Meredith Grey has come a long way from the inexperienced intern who was sleeping with her boss and doing everything she could to distance herself from her famous mother. Meredith is not only part owner of Grey Sloan Memorial, but she is also Head of General Surgery.

After watching Meredith navigate countless hours of training, relationships, family trauma, several near death experiences, and motherhood, it’s gratifying to finally see her come into her own and walk among the surgeons she looked up to.

3Worse: There Are Too Many Crossover Events

Like most special concepts and storylines, Grey’s crossover events has become overplayed. It takes away from the element that made it special in the first place, rarity. It seems like every season premiere, mid-season finale, and season finale are all structured as a Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19 crossover events.

Fans are annoyed, these crossovers happen so often that viewers question whether it can be considered an event anymore. It’s also frustrating for fans who don’t watch Station 19. Grey’s has gotten into the habit of merging important storylines like Andrew Deluca’s death and Teddy and Owen’s wedding with Station 19, forcing Grey’s fans to watch a show they don’t care about.

2Better: The Writers Deliver Episodes Fans Can Identify With Today

Though some audiences watch television to escape from reality, others appreciate a show that conveys the difficulties they’re facing in their lives. Grey’s incorporated their version of a #MeToo scandal involving Jackson’s famous grandfather, Harper Avery. The episode saw Katherine Fox take over the foundation and the title of the award. Grey’s empowered the victims in this storyline and delivered a satisfying outcome of justice.

Grey’s also tackled Covid 19 and the effects it had on patients as well as the staff. Watching Grey’s depict the frustrations and tragedies caused by the Covid 19 pandemic was a cathartic experience for many viewers.

1Worse: The Original Cast Members Are Gone

Sadly, the days of M.A.G.I.C. (Meredith, Alex, George, Izzie, Christina), are long gone. Creative differences, on set conflicts, and a spin-off series have removed original cast members one by one. Grey’s Anatomy is currently in its 18th season, and of the original cast, only 3 people remain – Meredith Grey, Miranda Bailey, and Richard Webber.

Though fans have gotten attached to other characters along the way and have grown to regard them as standard Grey’s Anatomy characters, nothing beats the chemistry and intimacy that was conveyed through the characters in the first couple of seasons.

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