5. Henry Burton
Henry Burton’s death was probably all a cover for a B6-13 operation. Henry came into Seattle grace in a whirlwind of insurance fraud masked by marriage to cardiothoracic surgeon, Teddy Altman. After receiving his treatment, Henry hung around the Grey’s Anatomy crew. But no matter what century you live in, coughing up blood is never a good sign. Teddy insisted that Cristina operate on the tumor in Henry’s chest, without giving her the name of the patient until it was over to reduce her nerves. There was simply too much damage and bleeding and Henry died on the table.
4. Mark Sloan
McSteamy left Grey’s Anatomy with the same snark and sly smile that he entered with. We bet he would rather have been punched in the face this time instead of meeting his end, but after surviving the plane crash that took away his one true love, it was time to bid adieu to founder of the Plastics Posse. After seeming to be alright following the crash, he waits with Lexie through her own departure and slips into a coma following a cardiac episode. His two best friends, Callie and Derek, take him off life support and let him die in peace.
3. Ellis Grey
Ellis Grey was a powerhouse of talent, full of biting remarks, and deep, deep down a romantic at heart. Her visits to Seattle Grace were never met with any joy, unless she was lucid and in the company of Richard Webber. Alzheimer’s kept the brilliant surgeon active in a nursing home operating on the meal of the day, rather than building upon her astounding career. Ellis has made her way back into Grey’s Anatomy over the years, especially in season 11, as flashbacks connected Maggie and Meredith. Her death was comforting to Meredith as she passed while Meredith worked to fight for her own life.
2. George O’Malley
The 007 franchise makes some scars from George’s departure ache with the faint memory of the sweet doctor who just wanted to make everyone happy. George O’Malley’s exit was shocking to most fans, who came to the realization that he was the John Doe as Meredith figured it out. Casting news made his departure known to fans weeks before the finale, but his death provided one of the most shocking moments of the series.
He wanted to save more lives. He was good. And he was thoughtful and generous. I think in the end, I think he was heroic and noble. And I liked him very much. And I think he gave you a good reason to be very very proud.
1. Denny Duquette
Perhaps Denny’s death is the most memorable because it launched Snow Patrol’s “If I Lay Here,” to notoriety, or because it was the first major death in the series. It was someone fans were rooting for, it was someone who put all the doctors in danger because they were still a team, and it made everyone remember the word LVAD wire, even if you don’t exactly know what it does. Denny appeared to Meredith in her purgatory state and again to Izzie as she hallucinates over two more seasons of the show.
Watch Grey’s Anatomy season 11, episode 18, “When I Grow Up,” Thursday at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC.