Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo in Grey's Anatomy

This ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Episode Still Makes Us Ugly Cry Years Later

Few shows can measure up to Grey’s Anatomy‘s popularity. The medical melodrama has secured its spot among the most-watched TV shows ever, joining other iconic series like Friends and Breaking Bad. Now in its 20th season, Grey’s Anatomy has been on the air since 2005, making it one of the longest-running primetime series ever.

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One of the most devastating (and iconic) episodes of the ABC series was season 11, episode 21, “How to Save a Life“. Written by series creator Shonda Rhimes, the episode is considered a landmark moment because fan-favorite character Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), a.k.a. Dr. McDreamy, dies. The original broadcast of this episode was watched by a mind-boggling 9.5 million viewers, with critics and audiences divided on how the show handled Shepherd’s death. Ellen Pompeo’s performance as Dr. Meredith Grey was well-received, with many calling it her best performance in the series.

The episode begins with a flashback of 5-year-old Meredith Grey getting lost in the park. Cut to the present, where Dr. Shepherd witnesses a road accident on his way to resign from the President’s brain mapping project. He manages to rescue a young girl and her mother and helps another injured couple. However, while exiting the scene, Shepherd gets hit by a semi-truck.

he is rushed to the ER at the nearest hospital and tries his best to convey to the attending doctors to order a head CT scan. Despite a surgical resident’s recommendation for a CT scan, her superior proceeds with surgery before realizing that Derek has a blown pupil. The neurosurgeon is not able to make it in time, and the hospital declares Shepherd brain dead.

The episode was directed by Rob Hardy and featured Rhimes’ first writing credit on the series after some time. She last wrote the season eight finale, “Flight.” “How to Save a Life” featured a cover of the iconic Snow Patrol song “Chasing Cars”, along with Sedona by Houndmouth, and Gulls by David Gray.

Interested viewers can watch Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix (seasons 1-19), Hulu, and FuboTV.

(featured image: ABC)


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Evan Tiwari
Evan is a staff writer at The Mary Sue, contributing to multiple sections, including but not limited to movies, TV shows, gaming, and music. He brings in more than five years of experience in the content and media industry, both as a manager and a writer. Outside his working hours, you can either catch him at a soccer game or dish out hot takes on his Twitter account.