10 Harsh Realities Of Rewatching Grey’s Anatomy


Viewers are understandably eager for Grey’s Anatomy to resume its 19th season, even with the exit of main character Meredith Grey. Its mid-season premiere slated for Feb. 23, 2023 still feels a long way off for the moment. Luckily, that also means now is a great time to revisit the show from the beginning and relive what made it a smash hit TV series in the first place.


The show still delivers on its satisfying mix of character drama and tense medical scenarios that always proved compelling, but it’s fair to say not everything about Grey’s Anatomy has aged perfectly. From characters who are awful in hindsight to the pain of watching beloved main-stays leave all over again, these are some of the worst parts of rewatching the show.

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Grey’s Anatomy Has Been Going On Too Long

The main cast of Greys Anatomy

Though it’s incredibly impressive that Grey’s Anatomy has continued for no less than 19 seasons and 18 years since it first appeared on ABC on 2005, it’s hard to argue that it hasn’t come at some cost. One of the biggest realizations that occurs when rewatching the show is just how much it’s transformed over the years.

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There’s still plenty of reason to watch now but, with Grey herself joining the huge list of staple characters that defined the show that have now left, it feels completely different now to when it first hit its stride. It’s only on rewatch that this becomes truly apparent.

Meredith Grey Has Almost Died Too Many Times

Meredith Grey in scrubs in Grey's Anatomy

It wasn’t that noticeable when stretched out across a long timespan, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Grey seems to have more lives than a cat in the show. Grey has been in a plane crash, been forced to help out in her own surgery, and survived attacks by patients and gunmen alike.

Given just how many times she should have died and miraculously survived, it’s understandable why the show has inspired so many fan theories over the years. Overall, it definitely goes down as one of the less plausible elements of a show that doesn’t always quite manage to stay grounded in reality.

Major Character Departures Are Still Painful

Lexie Grey looking to her right in Grey's Anatomy

Though the show’s willingness to kill off major characters was something that always worked to Grey’s Anatomy‘s benefit since it reinforced the show’s usually extremely high stakes, it also means saying goodbye to some of the best characters in its history. That ordeal is no less difficult the second time over.

From Lexie Grey’s tragic death in season 8 to the rushed exit of Callie Torres in season 12, there are tons of character exits in Grey’s Anatomy that still hit hard. The shock value might have lessened, but the pain of knowing that the show will continue on without a lot of the people that made it eminently watchable is still rough.

Grey’s Anatomy Doesn’t Always Get The Balance Right

George, Izzie, Alex, Cristina and Meredith looking serious at the hospital on Grey's Anatomy

Juggling serious medical situations with character drama was always going to be a tough task and one that several shows have struggled with over the years. Add in the fact that Grey’s Anatomy also has plenty of lighter and more humorous moments too and it’s obvious that it’s not always going to get the balance right.

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That’s why one of the biggest complaints about the show has always been how it’s handled that balance, often leaning too far into the highly emotional character drama and their complex relationships at the expense of its other elements. On rewatch, it’s obvious that it’s a problem the show never quite dealt with and arguably got worse at over time.

Grey’s Anatomy Is Too Unrealistic At Times

Hayes and Meredith holding coffee and smiling on Grey's Anatomy

Some unrealistic elements such as just how many disasters and shock deaths have occurred at this particular hospital over the years are to be expected with any show that’s run as long as Grey’s Anatomy but it’s fair to say the show doesn’t always manage to stay grounded.

From the fact the Chief of Surgery seems to have a huge amount of power over the entire hospital to obviously manufactured medical drama cliches like the sudden unpredictable flatlines, plenty of the show’s elements have been picked apart by fans over the years. Unfortunately, they become a lot more noticeable when rewatching a few years later.

Grey’s Anatomy Has Too Many Forgettable Characters

The intern STEVE MOSTOW in GREYS ANATOMY

Reactions to the newest batch of Grey’s Anatomy interns that were introduced in the first part of the latest season seem tentatively optimistic but the show’s policy of shoving a bunch of new characters at the viewer isn’t always to its benefit. What made the early seasons work so well was the strength of the core cast, where each had such distinctive personalities.

However, as those characters have slowly departed from the show or taken on different roles, the new characters introduced haven’t always been up to scratch. From bland interns like Steve Mostow to wasted relatives like Liz Shepherd, there are simply too many forgettable Grey’s Anatomy characters that barely make an impact on the main storylines.

George O’Malley’s Character Has Aged Poorly

George looks confused in Grey's Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy is full of flawed characters, and that to its credit, as they make for far more compelling television. That can’t quite completely dismiss some of the issues with former characters like George O’Malley. With his sense of entitlement regarding Meredith and particularly his reaction to her bursting into tears in the bedroom, George’s flaws feel a lot more uncomfortable in a world where “Nice Guy Syndrome” is a well-known phenomenon.

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Derek is equally problematic but what really grates is when the pair fail to see any consequences for some of their worst behavior. When they are still respected and even looked up to in the wake of some of their worst moments, it makes it a lot harder to look past.

Grey’s Anatomy Is Not As Good As House

House talking to a young man in House

When the two series were airing weekly side by side, it made it easy to consume both Grey’s Anatomy and House and enjoy each on their own merits. However, in the age of streaming and binge-watching, it’s become a lot easier to directly compare the two massive medical dramas over the long-term and, as hard as it is to admit, House wins out in a lot of ways.

With it’s compelling stories, sharp dialogue, and a heavier focus on the medical side of things, House makes Grey’s Anatomy seem a lot lighter in comparison. Along with its more compact 8 seasons, it’s a far easier show to rewatch and that’s a part of why rewatching Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t feel quite as satisfying in comparison.

Meredith Grey Is Hard To Like

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey in Grey's Anatomy.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Grey’s Anatomy is how it managed to be compelling for so long when the central character is one of the least likable members of the cast. Meredith Grey makes many poor decisions and at times acts just plain mean to other characters without any real justification.

Most fans can overlook some of her worst moments in light of the strength and courage she shows while dealing with some genuinely heartbreaking and traumatic things, but she isn’t a lot of people’s favorite character and there’s a reason for that. Grey’s complexity adds a lot to the show but it’s easy to end up wishing she could have been more likable overall.

Modern Grey’s Anatomy Isn’t The Same

The Grey's Anatomy season 18 cast

Though it might be somewhat down to nostalgia, there’s no denying that there’s a sense of identity and purpose present in the earlier seasons of Grey’s Anatomy that is hard to spot in the newer seasons. From the cast to some of the great wit that went into Cristina’s lines, all of the small details came together to create something great in the early days of Grey’s Anatomy.

That’s why one of the hardest things to accept in a rewatch of the show is going back to the newest seasons afterwards and being able to directly compare them. Despite not being necessarily bad on its own merits, it’s impossible not to feel like something important is missing now.

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