The Top 10 Grey’s Anatomy Episodes

A power ranking of the episodes for the best medical drama in TV history.

If you’re like me, then you have seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy at least 10 times and have watched it for over 5 years. Last night, the show premiered its 16th season and took the title for the longest American primetime medical drama series. In honor of another season of tears, disappointments, and abrupt endings, here is my ranking of the top 10 Grey’s Anatomy episodes. Warning: this may contain spoilers if you are not up to date on the show.

10. Yesterday” (Season 2, Episode 18)

The significance of this episode is because we meet the one and only Mark Sloan. In the beginning, Mark is obviously flirting with Meredith, who has no idea who he is, and all of the sudden, Derek punches him. This is a scene every Grey’s fanatic will never forget, but the main reason for this ranking is Izzie’s #1 contribution (in my opinion) to the show: Mark Sloan’s nickname, McSteamy. This follows Derek’s iconic nickname, McDreamy, given by Cristina in season 1.

9. “Into You Like a Train” (Season 2, Episode 6)

The title says it all. If you can remember back to 2005, this episode’s trauma is centered on an older man and a younger woman who are impaled on a pole. This episode tears at the heartstrings: we have Meredith at Joe’s bar, complaining and wanting to be with Derek, following the classic line, “pick me, choose me, love me” (see below). Personally, I love the older Grey’s episodes, and this one does not disappoint.

Grey’s Anatomy season 16 promotion, courtesy of ABC

8. “A Hard Day’s Night” (Season 1, Episode 1)

This is the classic pilot episode of Grey’s Anatomy. We meet Meredith Grey, young, naive and ready to conquer the medical world. Since it is the pilot, we meet many main characters and get a feel for their personality for the show. One character catches our eyes: Dr. Miranda Bailey. Her well-known five rules were engraved in her interns’ heads that they repeated them when they first got their interns. This episode is very entertaining, but also may be confusing to newcomers. Amidst the chaos, the pilot is definitely one to rewatch year after year. 

7. “Unbreak My Heart” (Season 12, Episode 11)

Shonda really did it to us with this episode. Although I realize Jackson and April are not the most popular couple, I personally was a fan, hence the #7 ranking. For all of you Japril fans, this episode brought back all the feels. I was hoping they would last and this episode helped me relive their best moments and even some that we haven’t seen. The chronological flashbacks aid in the understanding of the episode and are satisfying to watch as a viewer.

6. “Bring the Pain” (Season 2, Episode 5)

George and Alex stuck in an elevator and Meredith’s famous “pick me, choose me, love me” moment together in one episode…could it get any better? Personally, I love the older Grey’s episodes and this is definitely one of them. Both of these moments are referenced throughout all 15 seasons of Grey’s, so it was obvious I had to include it in the ranking.

Derek died on my birthday. It hit me hard.”

— Emma Anderson

5. “Fear (of the Unknown)” (Season 10, Episode 24)

If you are a true Grey’s fan, then you would definitely know that this is the episode where Chrsitina leaves for Switzerland to take Burke’s old job. While her departure is drawn out in the episode, taking her a long time to actually go to the airport, the one crucial moment Christina and Meredith share made me tear up when I saw it: the final “dance it out.” Her famous monologue appears in this episode, too, about how Meredith is worth more than Derek: “He’s very dreamy, but he’s not the sun. You are.” All in all, this is an episode with a thrilling trauma you couldn’t go wrong with watching it.

4. “Walk on Water” (Season 3, Episode 15)

This episode starts out with a ferry wrecking, causing the doctors at Seattle Grace to rush over to the site. It seems to be a riveting episode with lots of injury and blood, but things take a turn: Meredith ends up drowning in the water. Personally, I like it much better than the following episode because Rhimes left us with a cliffhanger, one that was not predicted. This episode could seem insignificant to newer ones, but this season 3 thriller definitely pulls through.

3. “Flight” (Season 8, Episode 24)

The season 8 finale is one to remember. Seen to some as the craziest Grey’s ending of them all (it definitely is), this episode has a shocking ending full of death and tears. I’ll put it here: 6 of the Seattle Grace Mercy West surgeons entered the place, but only 4 made it back alive. Besides the plot, the actual filming of the episode is quite appealing to viewers, providing intriguing angles to portray Rhimes’s message. Since this episode, Grey’s has never been the same.

2. “Elevator Love Letter” (Season 5, Episode 19)

This season 5 episode is the epitome of Grey’s Anatomy: lots of drama. This is the episode where Owen chokes Christina due to his PTSD and George and Izzie are fighting due to her cancer. Most prominently, this is when Derek proposes to Meredith in the elevator, hence the name “Elevator Love Letter.” It earns the 2nd place rank because of that moment every MerDer fan has been waiting for.

How are there 16 seasons of a show? Have they never run out of content?”

— Will Jordan

1. “Death and All His Friends” (Season 6, Episode 24)

This episode of Grey’s is more than just heartbreaking. You feel every emotion possible, thus granting it the top spot in this ranking. Setting the scene: there is a shooter in the hospital. Derek is possibly dead (spoiler: that doesn’t happen yet). Christina has a gun to her head. Bailey is helping dying Charles. This episode has a very Grey’s Anatomy ending: lots of twists and turns with no idea how it will end. If you’re looking for 43 minutes of pure pain (in the best way), I highly recommend this episode.


To answer your question, Will: no, they have not. While these were just the top 10 episodes in my opinion, the show has more to come. It is rumored to be returning for its 17th season in fall 2020. In the meantime, catch up with Grey’s Anatomy Thursdays at 8PM on ABC.