At this point, watching Grey's Anatomy is an exercise in getting your heart broken. After 17 seasons and more than 300 episodes, any longtime fan of the show will tell you that they've sobbed thanks to *more than one* (or two...or three...) character's death. Take it from me, I've watched pretty much every single episode of the ABC medical drama—yes, even the recent episodes.
There's a reason Grey's is one of the longest-running TV shows, ever. Hot doctors + love triangles + life or death circumstances = great TV. The formula is so rock-solid that creator Shonda Rhimes' production company Shondaland also produced Scandal and now Station 19 using the same premise. Swap out doctors for political fixers and firefighters and voilá, you have a hit show.
Even though all of Shonda's shows are top-notch, there's something special about Grey's. It's more than just a romantic comedy set in a hospital; it's an examination of what happens to a person's psyche when they devote their entire life to saving people. And when you work in a hospital, death is, sadly, part of the routine. So if you're in the mood for a good cry, blast "How To Save A Life" and surround yourself with tissues as you relive the saddest Grey's Anatomy deaths.
11. Dylan Young
Season 3, Episodes 16 and 17: "It's The End Of The World" and "As We Know It"
Kyle Chandler played Dylan Young, an asshole-ish member of the bomb squad, who was brought in after a "Code Black" was called at the hospital. A homemade bazooka was discovered in a patient's body cavity, so Dr. Meredith Grey put her hand inside the patient in order to stabilize it, but then an EMT removed her hand in a moment of panic. As Dylan walked out of the hospital with the bomb, it exploded in his hands and killed him instantly. Shonda won an Emmy for the two-episode arc, but has since admitted that she regrets killing off his character, which is probably why he's made posthumous appearances.
10. Mary Portman
Season 7, Episode 7: "That's Me Trying"
Ugh, poor Mary, and cruel, cruel fate. Though Mary (played by Mandy Moore) survived her appearance in season six's active shooter episodes, she died after a colostomy bag reversal surgery. In other words, she lived through a hospital shooter, only to die in surgery six months later. Bleak, right?
9. Henry Burton
Season 8, Episode 10: "Suddenly"
Whew, some Grey's deaths are so painful, they make you want to yell at the writers: "WHO DID THIS TO YOU? WHO HURT YOU?!" Dr. Teddy Altman's husband Henry Burton (played by Scott Foley, who later went on to star in Scandal) passed away during a tumor resection surgery. And Dr. Cristina Yang, Teddy's mentee, was the one operating on him (though she didn't know it at the time) when he died.
Season 2, Episode 6: "Into You Like A Train"
IMO, this is the saddest patient death in all of Grey's history. A train crash brings a flood of patients into the hospital, including Bonnie and Tom, who were impaled by the same pole. After Dr. Derek Shepherd and Dr. Preston Burke evaluate them, they arrive at the sad conclusion that they won't be able to save them both. Because Bonnie's injuries were much more severe, she was the one who had to die. If that's not crushing enough, here's the kicker: Even though her fiancé was on his way to the hospital, she told them to perform the surgery before he got there because he wouldn't understand the doctors' decision. *sobs*
7. Adele Weber
Season 9, Episode 10: "Things We Said Today"
Chief Richard Webber's relationship with his late wife, Adele, was never simple. I mean, he did have an affair with Dr. Ellis Grey and fathered another child, but that's beside the point. On the day of Dr. Miranda Bailey's wedding, Richard tells Meredith that Adele passed away after suffering from a major heart attack.
6. Dr. Ellis Grey
Season 3, Episode 17: "Some Kind of Miracle"
You think that your relationship with your mom is complicated? No offense, but you don't know complicated until you witness Meredith's dynamic with her brilliant but cold mother, Ellis. After living with Alzheimer's for years, Ellis died of a heart attack despite Derek's attempts to resuscitate her. The one saving grace is that she makes posthumous appearances where Meredith can interact with her.
5. Dr. Mark Sloan
Season 9, Episode 1: "Going, Going, Gone"
Okay, we've arrived at the Grey's deaths that fans still talk about to this day. I'm talking about the deaths that made some people stop watching the show entirely because they thought it had gone too far. That's the thing about Grey's: just when you think it's aired its worst death, it one-ups itself. Exhibit A: Dr. Mark Sloan or "McSteamy" survived the season eight plane crash. He literally fell out of the sky and lived, people! But...in the very next episode, he's put on life support due to his internal injuries from the crash. RIP.
4. Dr. Lexie Grey
Season 8, Episode 24: "Flight"
Lexie Grey. The kind, gentle, brilliant Lexie. Meredith's annoyingly perfect half-sister quickly became a fan-favorite when she showed up in season three. After dating some of the hottest docs on the show, she and McSteamy *finally* realized they were meant to be together...but it was too late! She was crushed by the plane in the crash, and tragically died next to Mark, her love.
3. Dr. George O'Malley
Season 5, Episode 24: "Now Or Never"
Remember how I said that some deaths make you want to throw things at the writers? Here's yet another example. George O'Malley was always a couple of steps behind his colleagues. He was a bit sheepish, had to repeat his first year of residency, and didn't always have the self-confidence that his fellow interns possessed. That all changed in season five when he decided to join the army. No one thought it was a good idea, but they couldn't find him to try and talk him out of it. It wasn't until Meredith was sitting next to a patient (who was unrecognizable because of a bus crash) and noticed he was drawing "007" on her hand that she realized the patient was George. George, whose nickname was "007," died shortly thereafter.
2. Denny Duquette
Season 2, Episode 27: "Losing My Religion"
It's probably a controversial choice to make Denny the second saddest Grey's death, but I stand by my decision. It doesn't get much sadder than watching Dr. Izzie Stevens cry while lying next to her dead fiancé in his hospital bed. In an attempt to move his name up on the donor list, she cut his LVAD wire to make him sicker—a harebrained plot that seemed to work because he soon received the transplant and was stable. That is, until a blood clot caused him to have a fatal stroke. As if that wasn't bad enough, the show had "Chasing Cars" playing in the background as Izzie blamed herself for his death.
1. Dr. Derek Shepherd
Season 11, Episode 21: "How to Save a Life"
If you didn't know who would have the top spot on this list of the biggest Grey's deaths, then you need to re-watch the whole series, my friend. Meredith and Derek were the great Grey's love story. After seasons of being on-again, off-again, the tequila-loving intern and the dreamy attending finally got married and had a family. But their "happily ever after" was cut short after Derek was hit by a semi-truck and a young resident at a nearby hospital made a mistake, leading to his death. It's tragic. It's unfair. And, I, for one, like to pretend that it never happened, thankyouverymuch.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.