A Definitive Ranking of Grey's Anatomy Season Finales, Based on How Much They Made Us Cry

Grey's Anatomy is filled with more tear-inducing moments than we can count.

While Shonda loves to fill entire seasons with multiple episodes that mess with our emotions, Grey's Anatomy season finales are known for their sad and traumatic elements.

Of course, not every season ends in sobs, though the ones that have us scraping the bottom of our tissue boxes are definitely more memorable. So memorable, in fact, that we decided to find the saddest season finale of all.

Keep scrolling to see our definitive ranking of Grey's Anatomy season finales, based on how much they made us cry.

14. 'All of Me' – Season 14, Episode 24

Besides April Kepner leaving the show, the Season 14 finale was actually quite happy. It was Alex and Jo's wedding and obviously everything went wrong, but they still ended up tying the knot in a ceremony officiated by Meredith. April's departure from the show was also given a joyful spin, as she married Matthew at the end of the episode and was clearly headed for bigger and better things down the line. We honestly didn't have a chance to cry, as the entire episode was filled with the lighthearted quirkiness we've come to accept from Grey's. 

Grey's Anatomy: April and Matthew getting married in "All of Me"

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

13. 'You're My Home' – Season 11, Episode 25

Considering they killed McDreamy earlier this season, there was no way the Grey'writers could end the season with a heartbreaking finale. Although the doctors dealt with a difficult case in this episode, their personal lives actually ended up in a fairly good place. Richard and Katherine were married, Jo and Alex found their apartment and Meredith was finally beginning to learn how to bond with and be there for her sisters. We're left feeling like the characters have hope for an incredible future, despite the bad times they've all experienced recently. Thankfully, no tears for this finale—we used them all up during Derek's death.

Grey's Anatomy: Richard and Katherine getting married in Season 11 finale

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

12. 'Freedom: Part 2' – Season 4, Episode 17

Shockingly enough, the Season 4 finale gave us a much-needed break from two seasons of heartbreaking last episodes. The saddest moments in the episode stem from the relationship between Alex and Ava, as Karev was finally forced to deal with the seriousness of Ava's condition. We'd been watching their problems build for a while, so their separation didn't bring on the onslaught of tears we're used to. We also see the beautiful and iconic candle house moment at the end of this season, signifying the reconciliation of Meredith and Derek's relationship after a rocky few months. It was a beautiful moment that actually left us feeling happy and hopeful, rather than heartbroken and teary-eyed.

Grey's Anatomy: Meredith and Derek candle house moment

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

11. 'Who's Zoomin' Who?' – Season 1, Episode 9

Despite the emotional trauma waiting for us down the line, Season 1 of Grey's Anatomy actually ended on a fairly mellow note in comparison to other finales. There were only 9 episodes in the whole season, so there wasn't a whole lot of content to work with to create a truly tear-inducing last episode. Of course, Shonda wasn't going to leave us on a entirely happy note.

Although "Who's Zoomin' Who?" focused on Dr. Webber's surgery, George's health problems and Christina's pregnancy, the truly shocking reveal was Addison's arrival at Seattle Grace at the end of the episode, forcing to Derek to admit to Meredith that he is, in fact, married. It was a big blow to McDreamy fans everywhere, but (fortunately) nothing in the episode made us cry.

Grey's Anatomy: Addison confronts Derek and Meredith in "Who's Zoomin' Who?"

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

10. 'Unaccompanied Minor' – Season 7, Episode 22

While this finale was definitely intense, it was more frustrating than tear-inducing. Rather than killing people off or featuring a hugely traumatic event, this episode basically just set up the characters' lives for Season 8. At the conclusion of "Unaccompanied Minor," Meredith and Derek are on the outs again after Derek learns that Mer tampered with his Alzheimer's trial. The on-and-off status of their relationship wasn't new, but this time Meredith was given custody of Zola just as Derek pronounced that he's not sure if they should be parents together. Cristina and Owen are also on the rocks, as they can't agree on the future of their growing family.

Despite the bad moments, there was also some happiness in this episode. Teddy and Henry admitted their feelings for each other, marking the start of their beautiful relationship. Jackson and Lexie were given Mark's stamp of approval and Bailey and Eli's relationship was going strong. It was a mix of sad moments and happy times, neither of which prompted any tears on our end.

Grey's Anatomy: Teddy and Henry first kiss in "Unaccompanied MInor"

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

9. 'Perfect Storm' – Season 9, Episode 24

During the Season 9 finale, the doctors at Grey Sloan were trying to keep their patients alive while also dealing with a power outage and a raging storm outside. Meredith's baby was delivered in the dark and, despite some complications, both momma and baby made it out okay. Bailey got back into the OR to save Meredith's life, and Alex and Jo solidified their feelings for each other. In addition, Callie found out about Arizona's cheating and Cristina told Owen that their relationship wouldn't be enough for him if they didn't have kids, which she unequivocally doesn't want.

The episode ended with Richard Webber lying motionless in the basement, seemingly the victim of electrocution. While that reveal was certainly shocking and the episode had its intense moments, we didn't feel much of an urge to cry. We may have gotten a little choked up at the terrible problems plaguing some of our favorite relationships, but it was nothing compared to the fountain of tears we experienced during other finales.

Grey's Anatomy: Derek and Cristina running down the hallway in "Perfect Storm"

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

8. 'Family Affair' – Season 12, Episode 24

We're honestly not sure if this episode made us want to cry or turn away in disgust. It was Amelia and Owen's wedding, but the truly horrifying moment occurred when Ben performed a C-section on April in the middle of Meredith's kitchen. It was a truly horrifying and graphic scene that left us feeling disturbed and confused. It definitely wasn't pleasant, but it also didn't necessarily make us want to cry, though we may have shed a couple tears of panic and revulsion.

Grey's Anatomy: Maggie, Meredith and Ameila at Amelia and Owen's wedding

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

7. 'Ring of Fire' – Season 13, Episode 24

Although this episode was definitely scary, it more heart-pounding than tear-inducing. It was the episode in which a dangerous criminal was on the loose and basically set the entire hospital on fire. Stephanie was stranded with a child, creating a situation where she had to fight to save a little girl while simultaneously trying to escape the fire. It was definitely scary and there were certainly moments when we weren't sure if Stephanie was going to survive, but she ended up pulling through. We admittedly shed a few tears when we found out she would be leaving Grey's Anatomy permanently, but considering the situation she just escaped from we could understand her reasoning.

Grey's Anatomy: stephanie in the burn room during "Ring of Fire"

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

6. Fear (Of the Unknown) – Season 10, Episode 24

The Season 10 finale was Cristina Yang's last episode so obviously we cried. However, our tears were partly from total and complete sadness and partly from a sense of comforting nostalgia. The writers did a fantastic job of giving Yang a perfect send-off, allowing for plenty of moments with Meredith, inspiring words of wisdom and a final "dance it out." It was undeniably sad, but it was also a good feeling to know that she was headed off to greener pastures, and that her relationship with Meredith wasn't any less important just because they wouldn't be in the same place.

Grey's Anatomy: Cristina and Meredieth dancing it out during Season 10 finale

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

5. 'Losing My Religion' – Season 2, Episode 27

Season 2 of Grey's Anatomy featured 27 heart-wrenching episodes, culminating in a season finale that definitely had us shedding a few unbidden tears. In case you've forgotten, let us refresh your memory—this was the episode where Denny Duquette dies. After watching his relationship with Izzie grow and blossom over the course of the season, and then spending the prior three episodes angry at Izzie for her impulsive efforts to save his life, it finally felt as though these two lovebirds would find their happily ever after—at least for a little while.

But does that happen? Of course not! Instead, Denny suffered a stroke and died. Watching Izzie fall apart at discovering Denny's lifeless body  was terribly painful and we're not even a little ashamed to admit that we shed many, many tears during this heartbreaking finale.

Grey's Anatomy: Denny and Izzie

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

4. 'Didn't We Almost Have It All?' – Season 3, Episode 25

Although it doesn't include the shocking deaths or life-ruining decisions that plague some of the other episodes, there's something so incredibly relatable and human about the Season 3 finale. After Cristina and Burke have fought through so much, it's finally their wedding day. Cristina has no desire to get married or to be part of this huge production, but she gets on board every step of the way because she loves Burke enough to give him what he wants. And what does Burke do? He leaves her at the altar.

While it was likely the best decision for Cristina in the long run, seeing our composed and put-together Dr. Yang totally fall apart at Preston's betrayal definitely hit a painful chord in our hearts. You could feel her despair and pain, which is exactly what had us quietly weeping into our pillows during the final moments of this episode.

Grey's Anatomy: Meredith holding Cristina while she cries during "Didn't We Almost Have It All?"

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

3. 'Now or Never' – Season 5, Episode 24

We can hardly bear to discuss the Season 5 finale of Grey's Anatomy, primarily because it's still so incredibly heart-rending, even all these years later. This was the episode where we lose our beloved George O'Malley in a twisted ending that no one saw coming. We spend the entire episode worried about Izzie's health and wellbeing, only to learn at the very end that George dies instead, which makes the impact of his passing all the more painful.

Watching the doctors discover the identity of the John Doe from the bus accident, and then subsequently seeing George standing in uniform outside the elevator doors to say his final goodbye to Izzie made the entire experience absolutely heartbreaking. It was a good farewell to one of our favorite characters, but it definitely ripped our hearts into millions of tiny pieces.

Grey's Anatomy: George's death in 'Now or Never"

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

2. 'Death and All His Friends' – Season 6, Episode 24

While Season 5 convinced us that we had experienced the saddest moment in Grey's Anatomy history, we had no idea what Shonda had in store for us in the future. The Season 6 finale was the episode with the shooter, and it blew any sadness we felt at George's death out of the water. To be fair, it was the combination of this episode and the one before it that had us draining our tissue box, but we'll still count this finale as one of the saddest Grey'episodes ever.

Tensions were high as numerous main characters were fighting for their lives, not to mention the shooter was still on the loose for the majority of the episode, so we were constantly waiting for another life-ending bullet. The episode ended with all the characters deeply traumatized, leaving fans unsure if the hospital would ever recover from its major losses. We definitely shed many tears during this episode, some from sadness and some from plain old fear.

Grey's Anatomy: Meredith crying during "Death and All His Friends"

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

1. 'Flight' – Season 8, Episode 24

This episode was honestly just unfair to Grey's Anatomy fans everywhere. We don't think we have to remind you what happened, but just in case you forgot, this was the horrific plane crash. All of our favorite Grey'characters were fighting for survival, each in different states of injury. By far the worst part of this episode was Lexie's heart-wrenching death, especially considering Mark had to watch the love of his life slip away after telling her just how much he cared for her. Even after that moment, we still weren't sure if any of the doctors survived, leaving us filled with tension and worry that wasn't relieved until the start of the next season. So yes, this episode made us cry. A lot.

Meredith, Mark and Cristina after the plane crash

(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)

 

 

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