After 15 seasons, pretty much every doctor on Grey’s Anatomy should be fired or in jail. Sam Brooks revisits all the wild fireable offences that have happened in television’s longest-running medical drama.
This post was published in June 2019.
Fourteen years ago, a little show called Grey’s Anatomy descended upon our screens and captured the hearts of millions. It made stars of its unknown cast, pioneered the idea of plundering the back catalogues of indie bands for emotional depth, and introduced us to the concept of someone fucking a ghost.
Also, it makes Shortland Street look like a Mike Leigh film. It’s wild.
There’s a reason why the show has hung around as long as it has, being one of the few network dramas to survive the streaming boom with its ratings pretty much intact. That’s because it’s never afraid to up the stakes, which is saying a lot for a show that had a patient with a bomb in their body in season two, a shooter roaming the hospital in season three and a plane crash in season eight. It’s the Fast and Furious of medical dramas, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cast save the world from a nuclear holocaust next season.
But I’m not here to talk about how good the show is, or when it jumped the proverbial shark (but if I were a betting man, I’d say somewhere around Meredith’s second half-sister working at Seattle’s only hospital). I’m here to talk about how so many of these doctors should no longer be employed. And honestly, some of them aren’t, because a lot of them have died! See the aforementioned bomb, shooting, and plane crash.
So for your benefit, I’ve collated a definitive list of all the times that characters on Grey’s Anatomy should’ve been fired. Please note, I have no experience working in a hospital or any medical experience whatsoever, but I have watched a lot of Grey’s Anatomy, a moderate amount of Shortland Street and a lot of The Good Wife.
- Everyone calls Miranda Bailey, a black woman, ‘The Nazi’.
- Meredith Grey, the titular anatomy, sleeps with Derek Shepherd (McDreamy), her direct superior. She later accuses him of sexual harassment. Nobody takes her seriously.
- Everybody jokes about Meredith carrying a sex offender’s penis in a jar.
- Alex prints and puts up photos of Izzie when she was a centrefold model to shame her.
- Cristina has sex with Burke, her direct superior. They start dating.
- Burke covers up that he left a towel in a guy after surgery once.
- Alex badmouths a patient behind her back and is caught.
- An anesthesiologist drinks before surgeries. He is the first person in the series to be fired for unprofessional conduct.
- Meredith, Derek and Bailey perform a secret, unauthorized surgery on Richard Webber, the Chief of Surgery.
- Derek’s wife/ex-wife/separated wife comes to work at the hospital, confronts Meredith for sleeping with her husband/ex-husband/separated husband. She then immediately requests Meredith as an intern.
- George loses an Alzheimer’s patient in the hospital multiple times. The patient is Ellis Grey, Meredith’s mother.
- Everybody makes fun of a man having a hysterical pregnancy.
- Izzie sleeps with Alex.
- Meredith treats a guy she had a one-night stand with the night prior, who is now suffering from priapism. Don’t google it.
- Meredith revives a DNR patient.
- Addison’s ex-boyfriend, Mark, starts working at the hospital. Mark slept with Addison when she was married to Derek, and Mark is also Derek’s best friend.
- George sleeps with Meredith.
- Addison asks Bailey, who is on maternity leave, to treat her for poison oak.
- Callie lives in the hospital.
- Callie dates George.
- Alex tells Denny, a terminally ill patient, that he is going to die because he is jealous of Izzie’s unprofessional closeness with Denny.
- Izzie tries to induce a seizure so Denny can be operated on.
- Izzie unplugs Denny’s live support so he can move up the donor list.
- Izzy accepts Denny’s marriage proposal. Denny promptly dies, because Izzy unplugged his life-support. (Technically, she cut his LVAD wire, but look, she’s still got a dead patient-husband on her hands.)
- Derek starts dating Meredith again.
- Addison finds out that Derek has started dating Meredith, so she pins Meredith’s panties to the work noticeboard.
- Callie sleeps with Mark.
- Cristina secretly assists Burke in his surgeries, because a hand injury means he can’t perform surgery properly.
- Izzie is somehow allowed to return to work despite marrying and then killing a patient.
- Cristina changes a surgery that Bailey was assigned to so she can keep hiding the fact that Burke, a surgeon, can no longer perform surgeries properly.
- Alex kisses Izzie.
- Izzie spends her own money so she can open a clinic named after Denny, the patient she married and then killed.
- Izzie and Alex steal patients from the ER for the Denny Duquette Memorial Clinic.
- George proposes to Callie, despite not being in a relationship with her.
- Burke proposes to Cristina.
- Richard operates on Meredith, his employee.
- Derek blames Ellis for her daughter drowning, which immediately sends her into cardiac arrest.
- Izzie sleeps with George.
- Addison sleeps with Alex.
- Alex develops a romantic relationship with a patient who has amnesia.
- Izzie makes her interns treat a deer, despite being doctors for humans. Izzie is, somehow, still employed at the hospital where she married and then killed a patient.
- Cristina bribes people with gifts from her wedding with Burke, which he never showed up for, so she can get better surgeries.
- Meredith bullies her half-sister Lexie, who is now an intern at the hospital.
- Meredith tips her mother’s ashes down the operating room sink.
- Callie reveals George’s affair with Izzie to the entire hospital staff.
- George dates Izzie, who is now somehow his direct superior.
- Lexie sleeps with Alex.
- Lexie gets emotionally attached to a patient played by Seth Green.
- Alex continues to sleep with his former patient, Rebecca. She later has a hysterical pregnancy and tries to kill herself.
- Callie sleeps with Mark, again.
- Erica kisses Callie.
- George kisses Lexie.
- Bailey puts Izzie in charge of the free clinic named after the patient she married and then killed.
- Cristina is impaled by an icicle. Owen kisses Cristina after treating her for icicle impalement.
- Alex kisses Izzy, again.
- Derek names a clinical trial that Meredith conceived and did half the work on after himself.
- Izzie treats the patient who got the literal heart of the patient she married and then killed.
- Meredith treats someone on death row (fine) and then attends his execution (not fine!).
- Arizona, a person named after a state, kisses Callie.
- Izzie gaslights her interns into running tests on her after she keeps hallucinating the patient she married and then killed.
- Izzie has sex with the ghost of the patient she married and then killed. I’m sure ‘ghost sex’ is not covered in any hospital rulebook, but I’m pretty sure it’s a fireable offence.
- Cristina treats her boyfriend’s ex-fiance’s father, which is honestly probably fine as far as this show goes.
- Derek and Mark have fisticuffs.
- Izzie is admitted to the hospital she works at to treat her brain tumour.
- Owen has a PTSD episode and strangles Cristina.
- Derek operates on Izzie, his girlfriend’s friend and his co-worker.
- Owen gets treated for PTSD at his workplace, the only hospital in Seattle.
- George dies, which still ranks pretty low on the fireable offence scale.
- Meredith and Derek, who are now married, have sex all over the hospital.
- Mark bullies Cristina by putting her on a penis enlargement case.
- Izzie gives dialysis to the wrong patient, making her unviable for treatment. She is finally fired from the hospital.
- Lexie steals April’s diary and mocks her publically for it.
- Shepherd operates on a co-worker despite being forbidden to do so. He does it a second time, in secret, and is fired.
- Cristina performs unauthorized surgery, again.
- Cristina kisses Jackson.
- Lexie sleeps with Alex.
- Izzie hangs around the hospital to get Alex to date her, and then suddenly leaves. She is never heard from again. Coincidentally, Katherine Heigl said some mildly critical things about the show in an interview around this time.
- Derek hires back two people who were correctly fired for professional misconduct.
- Mark sleeps with Teddy.
- There is a shooting in the hospital. Not to victim blame, but at some point, you have to wonder that maybe the hospital is the problem.
- Cristina operates on Derek at gunpoint, which is perhaps the first time in this show where someone has done something unprofessional but probably ethical.
- Derek returns to work, despite suffering PTSD from being shot at work.
- April tries to sleep with Alex.
- Jackson has fisticuffs with Alex.
- Teddy is attracted to a patient who has no health insurance, tries to operate on him pro-bono and is denied. She later marries him, which marks the second time in this show that a doctor has married their patient, but I guess she didn’t kill him, so this is an improvement.
- Alex sleeps with a med student assigned to him.
- Bailey starts live-tweeting her surgeries.
- Despite having next-to-no ER experience, Meredith is given the ER to run for a night.
- Eli, a nurse, pressures Bailey into sleeping with him. She refuses. They eventually end up dating.
- Everyone spends an entire episode singing at work, including a Snow Patrol song.
- Alex accepts a ridiculous amount of money from a patient to help children in Africa, which is cool. He later ends up committing fraud, which is not.
- Derek adopts a patient. He does not inform his wife, who is also his co-worker.
- Meredith invalidates a clinical trial she has been working on by switching a placebo out for the actual drug for a specific patient. She is, surprisingly for this show, fired.
- Meredith is immediately rehired, despite the previous seven seasons.
- Alex mocks his boss for being a virgin.
- Teddy gets Cristina to operate on her former patient who is now her husband, without telling Cristina who she’s operating on.
- Teddy’s former-patient-now-husband dies and nobody tells her about it.
- Teddy finds out her former-patient-now-husband has died and makes Cristina recount every detail of the operation while they’re both performing another surgery.
- A lot of unprofessional stuff in an alternate universe episode that I refuse to recount here.
- April sleeps with Jackson.
- Everyone is on a plane that crashes, which does feel like their fault at this point, to be honest.
- As Lexie straight up fucking dies, Mark tells her he’s in love with her. This is not just unprofessional, but quite cruel. He dies not long after.
- Bailey has sex at work.
- Callie allows Derek to operate despite having a broken hand.
- Callie amputates her co-worker’s leg, Arizona, because apparently, nobody else was available at the only hospital in the northern hemisphere. Arizona is also her girlfriend.
- Cristina sleeps with someone at the new hospital she works at, which is proof I suppose that there are at least two hospitals in the Grey’s multiverse.
- Meredith asks her intern, a stranger, to call Derek’s family to ask if any of them can donate a nerve for his hand. Neve Campbell agrees to this request.
- Meredith and Bailey operate on the chief of surgery’s wife.
- Leah attempts to give a transfusion to a Jehovah’s Witness, which goes against his beliefs and is the plot of the Emma Thompson film The Children Act, which is also a truly horrible film.
- Callie and Richard engage in corporate espionage.
- Jo dates Jason.
- Jackson dates Stephanie.
- The victims of the plane crash, all of whom have acted wildly unprofessional in the past, buy the hospital after they get a settlement, and rename it after their two colleagues who died in the crash.
- When Owen tries to adopt a kid, Cristina wakes the child’s biological father up from a coma.
- Arizona sleeps with Lauren.
- Alex kisses Jo.
- Richard makes Meredith, whose mother he had an affair with, responsible for his medical decisions if he is incapacitated. This comes into effect when he is electrocuted in the hospital basement during a flood.
- Shane makes a co-worker look for the chief of surgery. She gets electrocuted and dies.
- Alex sleeps with Jo.
- April and Arizona ignore a medical emergency and instead get drunk in a closet.
- Jo discloses confidential information to Alex, namely that the patient he is treating is his estranged father.
- Cristina sabotages Meredith by going behind her back and destroying a 3D-printed liver that she needed for a trial.
- A non-fraternisation policy is finally adopted at the hospital. Everybody is wild about it for one episode, then it is promptly forgotten.
- Callie tries to name her new child Agamemnon.
- Bailey administers treatment to a bubble boy (technical term) illegally.
(Unfortunately, they stopped doing cast photos after season 10.)
- Maggie, Meredith’s secret half-sister and Richard’s even more secret daughter, comes to work at the only hospital in the world.
- Owen sleeps with Amelia.
- Stephanie flirts with a high school student.
- Alex reveals to Arizona that it was him who amputated her leg, not Callie, despite nearly two seasons of guilt and pointless drama about this very issue.
- Derek dies, and being dead means you should be fired, sorry.
- Bailey gives a speech pitching herself as chief of surgery while she’s in the middle of a surgery.
- Bailey appoints Meredith chief of general surgery, lowballs her salary to teach her a lesson.
- Maggie sleeps with Andrew.
- Penny, who operated on Derek when he died, is assigned to Meredith as an intern. Meredith is cruel to her.
- Richard punishes Andrew for dating Maggie, his now-not-secret daughter.
- Bailey’s husband Ben performs an emergency c-section and lies about it to his boss. Bailey is his boss.
- Bailey revives a DNR patient.
- Stephanie sends Meredith an explicit text meant for her boyfriend. He is played by Wilmer Valderrama and later dies.
- Meredith kisses Nathan.
- Alex has fisticuffs with Andrew.
- Alex gets distracted, ends up jeopardising a kidney transplant and gets fired.
- Amelia gossips about her own pregnancy. She is not pregnant.
- Eliza nicks a vessel during surgery just so Andrew can learn how to fix it.
- After Andrew drops his post-fisticuffs charges, Alex gets his job back.
- Arizona kisses Eliza.
- Richard lives at the hospital.
- Meredith sleeps with Nathan.
- Stephanie sets a rapist on fire. He immediately runs into gas tanks, causing an explosion that almost destroys the hospital.
- Jo sleeps with an intern.
- Harper fires Bailey, but he has a heart attack and she is immediately reinstated.
- Amelia gets a brain tumour removed by doctors in her own department, in the only hospital in the known universe.
- Izzie is, off-screen, employed at another hospital despite marrying and then killing a patient. She is also married, and I can only assume based on previous knowledge, it’s to someone she works with, has operated on, or killed.
- The hospital’s computer systems are hacked, so the doctors just wing it.
- April treats the pregnant wife of her ex-fiance.
- April forgets to file a report when she cuts a patient’s ear off. A fellow doctor trips on the ear and gets concussed.
- April sleeps with Tom.
- Jackson dates Maggie.
- Bailey gaslights an ICE agent to prevent him from deporting an intern. And, honestly, I’ll let this one slide.
- Arizona drugs everyone with weed cookies.
- Matthew dates April.
- Teddy is pregnant with Owen’s baby, presumably after sleeping with him. Owen is, of course, her co-worker.
- Link hits on Meredith.
- Nico hits on Levi, they later kiss and date.
- Richard is suspended for destroying a bar.
- Meredith gets into another love triangle with Andrew and Link.
- Thomas and Teddy kiss.
- Andrew kisses Meredith.
- Link sleeps with Amelia.
- Amelia makes Link pretend to be her ex-husband, Owen. Owen works with both of them, of course.
- Jo goes to work drunk.
- Meredith commits insurance fraud to save a life, which is one of the lesser-known songs by The Fray. Andrew takes the fall for her.
More definitive lists by Sam Brooks: