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Goodbye (Grey's Anatomy)

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Grey's Anatomy episode
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 2
Directed by Bill D'Elia
Written by Krista Vernoff
Featured music "Ghosts"
"Today Has Been OK"
Original air date September 24, 2009 (2009-09-24)
Running time 43 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Good Mourning"
Next →
"I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watchin' Me"
Grey's Anatomy (season 6)
List of Grey's Anatomy episodes

"Goodbye" is the second episode of the sixth season of the American television medical drama Grey's Anatomy, and the show's 104th episode overall. It was written by Krista Vernoff and directed by Bill D'Elia. The episode was originally broadcast on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in the United States on September 24, 2009. In "Goodbye", the staff at Seattle Grace Hospital come to terms with the death of their colleague Dr. George O'Malley (T.R. Knight). Further storylines include Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.) being engaged in a vehicular collision, Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) receiving a job as an attending physician at a neighboring hospital, and Dr. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers)'s marriage with Dr. Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) taking a toll after her near-death experience.

The episode was the second part of the two-hour season six premiere special, the first being "Good Mourning", and was filmed in Los Angeles, California. The special was the first premiere that Knight did not appear in, following an early release from his contract, and Jessica Capshaw (Dr. Arizona Robbins)' first premiere in which she received star billing, having been upgraded from a recurring star from season five. Shannon Lucio reprised her role as a guest star, in addition to Amy Madigan, Martha Plimpton, Zack Shada, Mitch Pileggi, and Zoe Boyle. "Goodbye" opened to generally positive critical reviews, with Chyler Leigh (Dr. Lexie Grey)'s and Ramirez's performances praised in particular. The episode's original broadcast ranked it at #1 for the night having been viewed by 17.03 million Americans, with a 6.7/17 Nielsen rating/share in the 18–49 demographic.


In the episode, Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and Dr. Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) are undergoing couples therapy with the hospital's psychiatrist, Dr. Wyatt (Amy Madigan). The two are instructed not to engage in sexual activity, until their emotional deficits are healed, which they find uneasy to accomplish. Clara Ferguson (Zoe Boyle) is no longer depressed, and urges Dr. Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh), who has given her attentive care, to return home.

Ferguson's depression returns again, when Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) informs her that she has an infection that requires surgery. She rejects the surgery, and is further disappointed when Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) tells her that the worst-case scenario is that she will need an ostomy pouching system. Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw)'s chronic pain patient, Andy Michaelson (Zack Shada) and his mother Pam (Martha Plimpton) enter the emergency room, so Robbins and resident Dr. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) order a 3D MRI, which is denied by the chief of surgery Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.).

On his way to a meeting, Webber goes through a red light, and collides with another vehicle, resulting in him becoming T-boned. Webber is taken to the neighboring Mercy West Hospital, where he is treated by former colleague Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez), and subsequently discharged. Ferguson finally agrees to the surgery, after constant pleads from Lexie, and makes a start to physical therapy. Lexie returns home to see her sister Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and her new husband Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) having sex in the kitchen. Dr. Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) is at home, begging her husband Karev to spend time with her, but he dismisses her. At Dr. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane)'s apartment, his girlfriend Lexie has moved in, and his bisexual ex-girlfriend Torres walks in on Sloan in the shower. Lexie expresses her concern to Torres about doing this, and she apologizes. Robbins confronts Shepherd, the hospital's chief of neurosurgery, and asks him to run an expensive test to see if Andy has Tethered spinal cord syndrome, which reveals that he has it, and it is reversed through surgery. Stevens notices the girl Dr. George O'Malley (T.R. Knight) saved, Amanda (Shannon Lucio), sitting outside the hospital, and tells her to go get a life, because O'Malley did not save her so she could be miserable. At the conclusion of the episode, Stevens unites with Karev, and Webber announces that Seattle Grace will be merging with Mercy West.


Krista Vernoff informed Kevin McKidd (pictured) that the therapy scene would change, twenty minutes before filming.

"Goodbye" was written by Krista Vernoff and directed by Bill D'Elia. Joe Mitacek edited the episode and Donald Lee Harris served as production designer.[1] Featured music includes Fanfarlo's "Ghosts", Katie Herzig's "Hologram", Lucy Schwartz's "Gravity", and Emilíana Torrini's "Today Has Been OK".[2] "Today Has Been OK" played while Shepherd (Dempsey) was consoling Bailey (Wilson) about O'Malley (Knight)'s death, in the elevator. This song was originally played in the season two episode "Into You Like a Train", when Bailey was consoling Shepherd. This is the only time the series has reused a song.[3] "Goodbye" is the second hour of the season six premiere. It was the first premiere not to feature Knight's character, O'Malley. Knight was released from his contract at the conclusion of season five, following a disagreement with series creator Shonda Rhimes over lack of screen time for his character. When asked to make a 'flashback' appearance in season six, Knight declined.[4]

The scene in which Yang (Oh) and Hunt (McKidd) were partaking in couples therapy, was originally planned to be a comical moment. Vernoff commented on this: "I handed them that scene 20 MINUTES BEFORE CAMERAS ROLLED. It was actually a funny scene right up until the last minute. Sandra and Kevin had smart questions – and what became crystal clear to me instantly is that this storyline could not be resolved in a humorous way. It had earned weight. Indeed, it required weight."[3] In the episode, Meredith (Pompeo) grieves her pain through constant sex with Shepherd. Vernoff explained she loves the fact that Meredith is healthy enough to realize what she is doing.[3] At the conclusion of "Goodbye", Yang finally came to terms with the death of O'Malley. Vernoff offered her insight:

"Cristina, who as a young child, held her father’s heart in her hands as it stopped beating, is perhaps the least "processed" of our core group, the least "healthy," the least able to handle the impact of George’s sudden death. Mer is using sex, Cristina is using her frustration around her lack of sex. So when she finally gets in bed with Owen and she finally has the tension release that comes with that kind of, um… tension release… She can’t hold the truth off anymore. That’s the thing about the five stages of grief. They truly are different for everyone. Cristina clung to the Denial stage for 40 days. And then she let in the fact that George died. And as much as Mer’s tears got to me, that intake of breath from Cristina got to me even more. The sudden realization that George really did…die.

— Krista Vernoff, Grey Matter[3]



"Goodbye" was originally broadcast on September 24, 2009, on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in the United States, following the first part of the season six premiere "Good Mourning". It was viewed by a total of 17.04 million Americans, across its two-hour 9:00 Eastern time-slot.[5] The episode was the series' second least-viewed season premiere, up to that point, just ahead of the season one premiere—"A Hard Day's Night".[6] In comparison to the previous episode, "Goodbye" made a 0.08% decrease in terms of viewership.[7] However, the episode's viewership ranked first in both its time-slot and the entire night, beating out CBS's CSI.[5] In addition to being a success in viewership, the episode also did well in ratings. "Goodbye"'s 6.7/17 Nielsen rating ranked first in its time-slot and the entire night, for both the rating and share percentages of the 18–49 demographic. The episode also received a rating of 10.9/18 in the 18-34 demographic, beating out CBS's The Mentalist, and ranking first in the ratings and shares for the demographic.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Patrick Dempsey's performance as Derek Shepherd was praised.

The episode opened to mixed feedback, and aired back-to-back with "Good Mourning", as a two-hour season premiere special. Alan Sepinwall of commented on the two episodes being conjoined into one week: "I keep going back and forth on whether it was a good idea to do that, or if we'd have been better off spacing out the tearful speeches over two weeks. That isn't to say that there shouldn't have been tears, or speeches. George's death, no matter how marginal he had become last season, is and should be a huge event in the lives of these characters. Had the show raced through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's famous five stages of grief, it would have rang false, as if everyone making the show was in a hurry to move past the events of the wildly uneven fifth season. My problem is, when you put two episodes back-to-back, those rhythms - the pace at which the acts build to emotional crescendos and then briefly recede - start to become too predictable, and it sucks some of the life and emotion away."[8] Sepinwall also praised Wilson's, Ramirez's, and Chamber's performances.[8]

The Huffington Post's Michael Pascua praised Dempsey's character, in comparison to his performance in "Good Mourning", writing: "Derek was set up as a real character in the second half, not just a one-sided McDreamy. First, Arizona and Derek finally fix the problem with Andy, then the two had some genuine interaction. Derek confronted Alex about his problems with Izzie. He took a moment to talk to Mark about the hospital's situation and ended the episode by confronting a very edgy Bailey. Miraculously, he had the time to have a lot of sex with Meredith."[9] Pascua also enjoyed Leigh's performance, commenting: "Lexie continued to evolve. I loved the anxiety that Lexie had with Callie. She wasn't really a doctor in any sense in this episode, just a friend to lean on."[9] Though he was impressed with the majority of the episode, Pascua had mixed feelings on the character of Stevens, attributing it to his dislike of Heigl.[9]


  1. ^ Writer: Krista Vernoff. Director: Bill D'Elia (September 24, 2009). "Goodbye". Grey's Anatomy. Season 6. American Broadcasting Company. 
  2. ^ "Grey's Anatomy "Goodbye" Music". TV Fanatic. SheKnows Entertainment. Retrieved July 4, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Vernoff, Krista (September 25, 2009). "Krista Vernoff on "Good Mourning" and "Goodbye"..." Grey Matter. American Broadcasting Company. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved July 4, 2012. 
  4. ^ "T.R. Knight: Leaving Grey's Anatomy Was the "Best Decision"". Us Weekly. Wenner Media. July 23, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Seidman, Robert (September 25, 2009). "Thursday broadcast finals, plus quarter hour detail for FlashForward". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Archived from the original on September 28, 2009. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Weekly Program Rankings: 3/21/05-3/27/05". Medianet. American Broadcasting Company. March 29, 2005. Retrieved July 1, 2009. 
  7. ^ Gorman, Bill (May 15, 2009). "Ratings: ABC, Grey's Anatomy Win "Finale Thursday"; But Decline Continues". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Archived from the original on November 15, 2010. Retrieved September 12, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Sepinwall, Alan (September 25, 2009). "Grey's Anatomy, "Good Mourning"/"Goodbye": Reviewing the season premiere". Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c Pascua, Michael (September 25, 2009). "Grey's Anatomy: Good Mourning / Goodbye (season premiere)". Huffington Post. AOL, Inc. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 

External links[edit]