Grey’s Anatomy: The 5 Most (& 5 Least) Believable Character Deaths


Anyone who has been following Grey’s Anatomy for the past 16 years knows that having characters coming and going is almost as common as surgical procedures at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. If there’s one trend that people have gotten used to in this show, is that it has killed characters more often than not to have an excuse to take them out of the series.

From characters both major to minor, viewers have seen all types of deaths. Arguably, after 17 seasons, some characters’ endings were so much more believable than others.

10 Less Believable: George O’Malley

It’s not that George’s reason to die was not honorable since he, as a true physician, risked his life to save another when he leaped in front of a bus, but this was a death that not only fans didn’t see coming, but it was also extremely dramatic and horrifying, to say the least.

O’Malley wanted to become a trauma surgeon in the army, and, ironically, the accident he suffered was so bad that his own physical trauma made him look almost unrecognizable. So, even though he was a dearly missed friend and colleague, his death has to be remembered as one of the most graphic, surprising, and overly-dramatized.

9 Most Believable: Mark Sloan

By the time Dr. Sloan (a.k.a. McSteamy) passed away, viewers were still recovering from the shock that the plane crash had on them and several characters, including the death of Mark’s biggest love, Lexie. Most people had learned to love Mark, as he was one of those who matured the most throughout their time at Grey’s. To make matters worse, the show let the audience believe, for a while, that he was going to make it and recover from this terrible accident.

But a worsening of his symptoms led him into a coma, and he never woke up again. Considering the unfortunate—but fairly believable—circumstances of how he died, his departure didn’t seem forced at all.

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8 Less Believable: Heather Brooks

Similarly to O’Malley, Dr. Brooks’ death during season 10 came as a complete surprise to the audience. Heather also died trying to help someone else, in this case, Richard Webber, who had just suffered an electrical shock. Unfortunately for her, she stepped into a water puddle and got electrocuted.

Right after that, she tragically hit her head on a generator box. Her death, as saddening and dramatic as it was, was not as credible as some others. There is also the factor that, in the same situation, Richard got out of it alive, suggesting that her end was a ham-fisted way of advancing the show’s plot.

7 Most Believable: Elena Bailey

Bailey’s mother’s death, during the most recent season, has certainly struck a chord in many viewers’ hearts. Because it’s been a time where the series addresses the COVID-19 impact, whether on people who are hospitalized or on the emotional effect that it’s caused on physicians who work tirelessly to assist their patients, it is clear that Elena’s death was a statement from the show.

As a consequence, it has certainly proven to be a more-than-convincing reason for an elderly character to pass away. Bailey’s mother got infected with the virus, was admitted to Grey Sloan, and, sadly, passed away soon after.

6 Less Believable: Paul Stadler

Name one person who was a fan of Jo’s vengeful, intimidating ex-husband, Paul Stadler. There was hardly anyone who didn’t wish for this character to pay the consequences of his abusive actions towards poor Wilson. So, when viewers learned that Paul was hospitalized after being the victim of a hit-and-run, it was easy for the audience to feel a certain “payback” type of vibe.

But, what had seemed to be a relatively small accident snowballed into a fatality, the result of an attempt to attack both his then-fiancé (Jenny) and Jo. In a rage, Paul fell out of his bed and knocked himself out, becoming brain dead. Most would say he met a deserving end, but the fact that it came not by his car accident but because of a self-caused head injury in his hospital room made this character’s departure a bit too convenient and obvious.

5 Most Believable: Diane Pierce

Maggie Pierce’s sweet, loving adoptive mother had an unfortunate, even greuling last couple of weeks before her passing. Fans know that she was diagnosed with a severe form of breast cancer which was, in and of itself, a more-than plausible cause of death. Admittedly, any character who dies of prolonged disease does so with an added gravitas, and, in Diane’s case, it was no different.

Also, the moment of her death was not overly emotional and heavy as it tends to happen in Grey’s. She passed away calmly, in her bed, with Maggie by her side, as soon as she was finished giving her daughter some life lessons. Ironically, Maggie was painting her mother’s nails during her mother’s final moments.

4 Less Believable: Dylan Young

Accidents that involve sudden explosions, electric shocks, or complete disfiguration of bodies could be said to be less-than-plausible reasons to die, particularly given the dramatic nature of the show. Even though Dylan Young was a minor character, he died in startling circumstances. Viewers surely still remember that it happened when a bomb exploded in his hands. Besides the overly-intense atmosphere of this scene, there was the added factor that Meredith had conveniently just left the operating room after successfully taking the explosive out of a patient’s body right before this happened.

3 Most Believable: Adele Webber

Everyone remembers Adele’s process of mental and physical deterioration caused by Alzheimer’s. But, most importantly, die-hard fans will never forget how her health—and ultimately, her death—impacted Richard Webber so vividly. His first wife died of a heart attack following brain surgery, and, as sorrowful as her passing was, the cause of her death was more than reasonable.

There are many complications that can come up after an invasive operating procedure, and having heart failure is definitely not uncommon. Adele’s loss affected Richard for a long time, even though her passing can’t be said to have been totally unexpected.

2 Less Believable: Derek Shepherd

When this fan-favorite character was killed, many people thought of it as the pitfall to this series’s downfall, but the ratings proved otherwise. Nevertheless, Derek’s departure from the show was perhaps the most shocking, saddening, and unfair of all.

Viewers know that he could have been saved from his tragic accident had it not been for an irritating hospital’s negligence. Plus, his death was more grueling to accept because of his pairing with Meredith, as the two were protagonists of an “idealized romantic love story,” but his sudden departure, caused mainly because of an incompetent doctor, can easily look unconvincing since he had already survived a plane crash and a bullet to this chest.

1 Most Believable: Lexie Grey

For a long while, there was a legion of fans who couldn’t come to terms with Lexie’s tragic departure. Besides her charming, kind nature, her story with Mark seemed like it was finally about to get a happy ending. How can one forget that her emotional last words to him before dying were that they were “meant to be?”

Regrettably, she died on the scene of the plane crash in which almost half of the main cast was involved, succumbing to the injuries she sustained. As heartbreaking as it was to lose Meredith’s half-sister, especially when there was nothing that could have been done to help her, her death was undeniably plausible since surviving a plane crash is, quite frankly, a miracle.

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About The Author

Soraia Ferreira (51 Articles Published)

Soraia Ferreira is a self-called Dreamer Virgo Artist. She has always been fascinated with films and stories, especially writing and producing them. Both her creativity and her too “freaky” organizational skills have greatly supported her work as a TV/Digital/Media Content Producer for more than 10 years.

At heart, Soraia is a storyteller that has learned to shape her talent into various platforms and different communication channels (offline and online media).

She believes Art represents a huge spectrum of life’s expressions and exploring its many forms is a continuing process of learning about the world and us individually. So, she likes to think that she is a “dreamer” because she looks for fulfilling her heart’s passions while also being a great “doer” and turning those passions into concrete solid action steps like a disciplined Virgo. So, here it is: a Dreamer Virgo Artist!

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