The Most Powerful Episode from Each Season of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ (PHOTOS)

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Season 1: “The First Cut is the Deepest”

In the series’ second-ever episode, the docs treat a battered rape victim while Derek (Patrick Dempsey) begrudgingly operates on the perpetrator, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) goes head to head with a peds intern over potential postnatal malpractice, and Izzie (Katherine Heigl) secretly gives pro bono care to a Chinese mother and daughter who can’t afford treatment.

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Season 2: “It’s the End of the World (As We Know It)”

If the phrases “bomb guy” and “pink mist” mean anything to you, you already remember this Super Bowl-adjacent two-parter, in which a patient arrives at the ER with live ammunition in his chest cavity. Mer risks her life to keep the explosive stable, while Bailey (Chandra Wilson) goes into labor, not knowing her husband has been admitted to the hospital as a car crash victim.

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Season 3: “Six Days: Part 2”

George (T.R. Knight) joins Cristina (Sandra Oh) in the “dead dad’s club” when his dad, Harold, suffers organ failure amid his cancer treatment. This episode is powerful on its own — and even more so because Vernoff, who penned this episode, lost her own father under the same circumstances.

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Season 4: “Crash Into Me: Part 2”

In this tense installment, Mer operates on a critically wounded EMT from inside the wreckage of his flipped ambulance. Meanwhile, a blood-soaked Lexie manages to plug the blown carotid artery of patient Nick (played by Seth Green), but despite her heroics, he suffers a stroke and dies.

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Season 5: “Now or Never”

Just try telling us you didn’t scream or, at least, get goosebumps when this episode’s critically injured John Doe — who heroically jumped in front of a bus to save a stranger — traces “007” on Mer’s hand and thus reveals himself as George, as hyperkalemia-suffering Izzie flatlines elsewhere in the hospital.

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Season 6: “Sanctuary/Death and All His Friends”

Never before and not since have we witnessed a more stressful episode of television as this two-parter, in which grieving husband Gary Clark returns to gun down the doctors on his wife’s case — and anyone else who gets in his way — as Mer pleads for him to shoot her if it gives Derek a chance to live.

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Season 7: “Song Beneath the Song”

Yes, the much-maligned musical episode is the hill we’ll die on. And yes, many of the musical numbers were silly, but Sara Ramirez finally getting a chance to show off her Tony-winning voice — while willing her character, Callie, to survive the car crash that imperiled her and her newborn — is a moment we’ll rewatch for years to come.

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Season 8: “Dark Was the Night”

Cristina’s lung tumor patient dies on the operating table, and only afterward does Owen (Kevin McKidd) reveal that her patient was Henry, Teddy’s husband. Owen also lies to Teddy (Kim Raver), telling her Henry fared well so that she can finish her own surgery. And to top it all off, Mer and Alex (Justin Chambers) face several car crash victims when a van hits their ambulance on a desolate mountain road.

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Season 9: “Things We Said Today”

Bailey postpones her wedding and heads back to the hospital in her wedding dress when Richard’s wife, Adele (Loretta Devine), suffers an aneurysm. The surgery is successful, but Adele subsequently dies of a heart attack. When Bailey and Ben finally have their wedding, Richard (James Pickens Jr.) tearfully flashes back to his own wedding. (And there’s nothing sadder than a teary Richard.)

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Season 10: “Fear (of the Unknown)”

After an awkward goodbye with Meredith, Cristina doubles back to the hospital to bid farewell to her “person” the proper way: by dancing it out. And her parting words are a feminist mantra for every viewer: “Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He’s very dreamy, but he’s not the sun. You are.”


Season 11: “All I Could Do Was Cry”

Yes, Season 11 spelled the end of McDreamy, but that’s not the episode we’re choosing. Instead, we’re spotlighting the hour in which April and Jackson (Jesse Williams) grieve over the news that their unborn child has type II osteogenesis imperfecta and is suffering broken bones in the uterus. “It’s cruel,” April rues. “I feel like God is laughing at me. If this is a test, I fail.”

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Season 12: “The Sound of Silence”

Mer is brutally attacked by a seizure patient in a fugue state, and she’s unable to hear or talk for most of the episode, much of which is filmed from her isolated point of view. It’s an especially memorable hour of television, but then again, Denzel Washington wouldn’t just direct any ordinary episode of Grey’s.

ABC/Richard Cartwright

Season 13: “Be Still, My Soul”

Ellen Pompeo made her directorial debut with this episode, in which Maggie (Kelly McCreary) goes to extreme measures to save her mother from breast cancer, all of which prove futile, making Maggie feel even worse for putting her mom through additional misery.

ABC/Mitch Haaseth

Season 14: “Personal Jesus”

Jo has to decide whether her abusive husband, Paul, lives or dies after suffers multiple brain injuries. Meanwhile, April can’t save ex-fiancé Matthew’s wife from post-birth complications. And after an innocent black teen dies after being shot by cops, Ben and Bailey have to have “the talk” with their son, telling him how to survive encounters with the police as a young black man.

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Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff recently called the March 28 episode, “Silent All These Years,” the “most powerful hour of TV I’ve ever been a part of.”

And that’s saying something, considering she’s been a part of most of the ABC medical drama’s 15 seasons so far. In light of that statement, we’re revealing our picks for the most powerful episode of each season so far.

Click through the gallery above for all of the feels!

Grey’s Anatomy, Thursdays, 8/7c, ABC

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