College students and Grey’s Anatomy go together like wine and cheese. Nothing feels better than lying in bed and crying your eyes out while enduring yet another heartbreaking season finale. Even though most of us who watch it aren’t interns, residents or chiefs of surgery, Grey’s still manages to make us laugh, cry and curse at the TV all at once— it even makes us think we can clip an aneurysm. These 10 characters and their quotes are arguably some of the most profound throughout the series.
First, let us go through our staple characters:
Meredith Grey: A determined, no-nonsense general surgeon. She’s not bubbly, she’s nowhere close to being perfect and she’s almost died like, 12 times.
Cristina Yang: A competitive, aggressive and sometimes cold cardio surgeon and Meredith’s other half.
Alex Karev: The resident ass who we’ve seen grow to become an honest and compassionate man.
Izzie Stevens: The beautiful blonde who is constantly doubted because of her bombshell looks. She’s made some bad decisions (Denny), but who are we to judge?
Miranda Bailey: With a nickname, “The Nazi,” she’s a tough, blunt authority figure who keeps the hospital running.
Callie Torres: Our resident bone doctor, she’s driven and brilliant, but sometimes defensive and impulsive.
Derek Shepherd: Ah, McDreamy. He’s charismatic dreamy, and out of everyone’s league. Do I have to say more?
Richard Webber: The Chief (even though he isn’t anymore) keeps the peace and serves as a fatherly figure to the gang.
Amelia Shepherd: Derek’s nutty sister with a history of drugs and pure unreliability.
Owen Hunt: A trauma surgeon who previously served in the U.S. Army, he’s seen some dark stuff that explains his reserved exterior.
Ready to Ugly Cry? These Grey’s Anatomy Quotes Will Help you Through You Literally Anything.
1. When things don’t go as planned
“What’s broken can be mended, what’s hurt can be healed. No matter how dark it gets, the sun’s gonna rise again.” – Meredith Grey
Meredith’s been through some serious stuff. In this quote, she knows what she’s saying, because she’s been through hell and back 47 times. Meredith reminds us that whatever may plague us right now, whether a bad grade, a nasty breakup or a rejection letter, we will make it through. If Meredith can survive a plane crash and (spoiler) her husband’s death, you can make it through that midterm.
2. When you’re unsure about your major or life choices
“Have some fire. Be unstoppable. Be a force of nature. Be better than anyone here and don’t give a damn about what anyone thinks.” – Cristina Yang
Cristina holds all of these qualities. She may be tiny, but her unyielding determination, unconventional love and blunt comebacks make up for it. This line can motivate us to stand our ground when our knees are weak. If you bomb that test, or the class know-it-all just rubs you the wrong way, remember Cristina’s words and show them who’s boss. She reminds us that you have to want it, and if you do, then to hell with everyone and everything else.
3. When a family member inevitably says, “you’re majoring in that?”
“The point is, it doesn’t matter what the rest of us think. At the end of the day, all that matters is what you think.” – Alex Karev
With Karev’s rocky start on the show, it seemed clear that he could not care any less what his fellow interns thought of him. Even though he can be a jerk, he’s got it figured out. Who cares what other people think? Are they living your life? Absolutely not. So next time that relative makes that disproving face when you tell them that you plan on majoring in English, just smile and keep going. In this quote, Alex helps us refocus and remember who the most important person in our lives is: Ourselves.
4. When it’s 3 a.m. during finals week and all you want to do is crawl under a rock
“I believe that believing we survive is what makes us survive.” – Izzie Stevens
In this line, Izzie expresses how much strength lies in our minds. Sometimes it’s not about the actual work, but the long night ahead of doing it, and your mentality throughout. You may be sitting at your desk in yesterday’s clothes, on your 12th cup of coffee and listening to the Hannah Montana soundtrack to keep you awake, but you are going to get that lab report done. Next time you’re starting a 10-page paper the night before it’s due, think about this quote and believe that you can do it.
5. When you fail an exam you thought you crushed
“Bad things happen, but you have to move past it. Leave it behind. The sooner, the better. Or it’ll eat away at you and stop you from moving forward.” –Miranda Bailey
Bailey has always been the voice of reason. This quote illustrates her persistence: She didn’t get to be chief by wallowing in her shortcomings. She messed up, she stood back up and kept marching. And that’s exactly what you can do when you see that C- or D on a paper that you actually wrote a couple of days in advance. You’re going to have to work that much harder for the rest of the semester, and Bailey will be there every step of the way to remind you.
6. When you stress about money and classes and your social life and studying and working and sleeping etc.
“Don’t spend all your time wondering what you are or who you like or whether it’s right for you or wrong for you. Just let yourself be happy.” – Callie Torres
Everyone doubts their own life choices at a time— their major, career choices— sometimes even on the daily. In Grey’s, Callie’s bisexuality is a very central aspect in her storyline, as she was one of the first stable characters on television in a lesbian/bisexual relationship. She received tons of disproval, especially when her dad tried to “pray the gay away.” Bottom line: Callie knows what it feels like when people don’t agree with her life choices, but everything has taught her to prioritize herself. So next time you spend 45 minutes standing in front of your pantry taking inventory for the 42nd time because you can’t decide what to cook for dinner, understand that it’s okay. Order that Chinese food for the third time this week, dance it out and eat a whole tub of ice cream.
7. When a relationship isn’t going quite as you planned
“She’s difficult, but if you make an effort, she’s worth it.” – Derek Shepherd
While Derek and Meredith’s relationship hasn’t always worked out— like the time Mer found out he was married… or when Derek cheated on her— he knew from the beginning that she was someone special. Sure, sometimes it might not actually work out, but good relationships require a little bit of elbow grease. Derek’s charming words are a constant reminder that sometimes a second (or third) date proves necessary.
8. When you’re about to graduate and you have no idea what the heck you’re doing
“Sometimes it’s good to be scared. It means you still have something to lose.” – Richard Webber
Webber knows what it’s like to feel scared. We’ve seen him go through addiction and come out on the other side. His profound words are perfect to remember when you’re preparing to graduate and everyone thinks it’s a good time to ask, “what are you going to do now?” You’ve spent your whole life preparing for this moment. Of course you have something to lose, but Richard reminds us that it’s okay.
9. When you’re doing calculus and you have no idea how that will help you IRL
“If you aren’t willing to keep looking for light in the darkest of places without stopping, even when it seems impossible, you will never succeed.” – Amelia Shepherd
Perseverance is key. Amelia acts impulsively, especially during her marriage to Owen (spoiler!) and has a history with drugs, but her tough life and where she stands now proves that hope prevails. Not once has Amelia given up—being a doctor is hard work—and she constantly reminds us that it does get better. Calculus is hard. More often than not, we spend hours just staring at practice problem after practice problem and just when you think you’ve got it, you realize that you don’t. Not even close. Times like these force us to put the calculator down before we chuck it out the window, and remember that you’re only taking this class because you’re smart (and after this semester, it’s not going to matter).
10. When it’s 2 p.m. and you’ve already cried three times today
“We’re supposed to feel. We’re supposed to love. And hate. And hurt. And grieve. And break and be destroyed, and we build ourselves to be destroyed again.” – Owen Hunt
Owen’s character overall is generally unconventional. He’s hard to read but proves to be a real softie under that hard exterior. Here, he shows us that our emotions are okay. It’s okay to cry over a lost sock or a really cute baby at the coffee shop. It’s okay to laugh when you’re feeling down or be sad when you have no reason. Owen reminds us all to embrace our feelings. There are certain situations where we need to act accordingly, which may require us to mute our emotions for a little bit. But that’s not every situation, and we need to remember that letting it out is more than okay—it’s human.
What we love about Grey’s Anatomy
“Grey’s Anatomy is a show that is looked forward to every week so you can have a reason to sit down and watch with your friends and family no matter the occasion. It has drama, romance, action and mystery all in one package which is everything I look for in a television series. There are few shows that I can talk about in public without someone quieting me because they don’t want the next episode to be spoiled for them. Just an all around great series.” – Brad Fosler, Illinois State University, Class of 2017
“A hospital is typically associated with such a sterile environment, but the drama and emotion of Grey’s can change your perspective, no matter how unrealistic it all may be. After following the life of Meredith Grey for 13 seasons (and counting), there’s no way I couldn’t have developed a love for all of the characters and the show itself. ” – Molly Flores, Illinois State University, Class of 2017
“I love how much love all of the surgeons have for one another. The ‘surgeon family’ they developed certainly helped make it more dramatic and entertaining. Also I am in love with Alex Karev.” – Leah Henricks, Illinois State University, Class of 2018
“I like that it’s always something new to keep you on your toes. And you can always count on Mer.” – Mollie Carlson, Ripon College, Class of 2018
“Watching Grey’s Anatomy has been a part of my life for over eight years. In that time it has provided a stress relief from real life and allowed me to fall in love with each of the characters. Every week I get sucked back into the craziness of the hospital and find myself wanting more drama and romance as I live out their lives with them.”– Brenda Nedved, Illinois State University, Class of 2019
“I love Grey’s because it has this perfect balance of thrill and people struggling with everyday emotions and problems. I can relate to the characters in that I also experience romance and loss and friendship but it peaks my interest because I don’t know what it’s like to work in a hospital and deal with crisis situations.” – Payton Blessing, Ripon College, Class of 2019
“What I love about it the most is that you get so invested in the characters lives and their different stories that you just want to keep watching because you care about them as people (even if they’re not real)” – Madison Bozidarevic, North Central College, Class of 2018
“I love Grey’s Anatomy because I hate it. It’s so dramatic and stupid but I’m invested so I must continue.” – Scarlett Dunkley, Florida State University, Class of 2018
“It taught me that I can never be a surgeon. And that Patrick Dempsey is hot.” – Johanna Stegvik, University of Missouri, Class of 2020
Looking for more Grey’s Anatomy quotes to get you through the day?
11. When you need a reason to let loose
“At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.” – Meredith Grey
Ever feel stressed that you aren’t stressing about anything because you must be forgetting something that you should be stressing about? When life hands you a night free of responsibilities, make a vodka lemonade (or whatever helps you relax and unwind) and celebrate your survival of another week of college. Even if you can see more midterms on the horizon, even if you barely made it out of your last midterm with your sanity, the fact that you still make it out of your bed every day to face adult life warrants celebration.
12. When your advisor starts nagging about internships
“Sometimes the future changes quickly and completely and we’re left with only the choice of what to do next. We can choose to be afraid of it, to stand there trembling, not moving, assuming the worst that can happen or we can step forward into the unknown and assume it will be brilliant.” – Cristina Yang
Resumé envy will take down even the most qualified of applicants. Even when it seems everyone has 10 years of experience and letters of rec from the president himself, you can’t stall your future. Take advice from Cristina and assume if you had known the president, he would have recommended you too.
13. When the Freshman 15 gets ya
“Oh, screw beautiful. I’m brilliant. If you want to appease me, compliment my brain.” – Cristina Yang
At some point, the unlimited soft serve ice cream will catch up to you and you won’t feel your best-looking. You’ll have to remember what you really went into thousands of dollars of student loan debt for: your education. Unless you applied to college in a bikini-featuring video a la Elle Woods, your looks did not factor into your getting in your school. Like Elle Woods, you had way more to offer your college than your outside appearance.
14. When you need to say bye to bae
“Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He’s very dreamy but he’s not the sun, you are.” – Cristina Yang
Remember that whole education thing again. If anyone stands in the way of you hitting the books and then making bank, kick them to the curb. Sometimes selfishness keeps you sane in college; no one good for you would get in the way of what you want.
15. When you put yourself out there and lose
“Walk tall. All you can do is be brave enough to get out there. You fought. You loved. You Lost. Walk tall.” –Mark Sloan
You lost an election in your student org. You shot and missed with the cute girl from class. You tried a new intramural and embarrassed yourself. No, really embarrassed yourself. Like, broke your roommate’s nose going for the volleyball at the same time embarrassed yourself. Either way, walk tall into that next club meeting. Walk tall into class. Walk tall away from the volleyball game (because you still deserve confidence, but you’re still a liability on the volleyball court).
16. When the hits just keep on coming
“Maybe we have to get a little messed up, before we can step up.” –Alex Karev
College comes with lots of defining moments–some of the things that happen to us or our friends can leave lasting impressions that make you feel irreversibly changed. These moments, at the time, may feel like they strip you and knock you down. You’ll find instead in future tough times that they really built you up. Like Alex says, sometimes the hard stuff makes you hard enough to deal with the hard stuff of the future.
17. When your roommate holds your hair back for you
“If there’s an upside to free-falling, it’s the chance you give your friends to catch you.” – Meredith Grey
Your mom won’t clean up your messes anymore, but messes still happen. If you get lucky, you’ll find a group of friends that loves you almost as much as your mom does and helps you deal with the messes almost as well.
18. When you ship your textbook from Amazon to your house instead of your campus address
“It turns out sometimes you have to do the wrong thing. Sometimes you have to make a big mistake to figure out how to make things right. Mistakes are painful, but they’re the only way to find out who we really are.” – Denny Duquette
Nothing hurts quite like the burning glare of a professor when you tell them your book is in the mail. That’s like the college version of “My dog ate my homework.” Obviously, you’ll probably make bigger mistakes than this in college, but you get the idea.
19. When you change your major… again
“We spend our whole lives worrying about the future, planning for the future, trying to predict the future, as if figuring it out will cushion the blow. But the future is always changing. The future is the home of our deepest fears and wildest hopes. But one thing is certain when it finally reveals itself. The future is never the way we imagined it.” – Meredith Grey
Your parents will flip. Your advisor will roll his eyes. You can’t let those things stop your if you don’t enjoy your classes. Unfortunately, American society asks 18 to 22-year-olds to make decisions that they will live with for the rest of their lives. Don’t go through the motions with a major and then a career that you hate.
20. When you get another bad participation grade
“If you want crappy things to stop happening to you, then stop accepting crap and start demanding more.” – Cristina Yang
Feeling sorry for yourself feels good sometimes. You can pretend your professor cackles with glee every time he takes a swing at your GPA or you can put the effort in to succeed. Oh, sweet pity party, you’ll have to wait until I’m done with this reading assignment.
21. When you want drop out and live in your parents’ basement like a hermit
“You do not get to break down. You do not get to fall apart, not when there’s still a chance” – Addison Montgomery
Maybe your advisor pulled a Mitchum Huntzberger and destroyed your Rory Gilmore-esque dreams of becoming a journalist. Or your childhood BFF starts to ghost. So what? Unless this is the end of your sad one-woman dramedy, pull yourself together and start over. You’ll find another major and another Cristina to your Meredith. If you cry uncle now, what will you do when you’re 40 and have to deal with nasty things like taxes?
*Updated on October 17, 2017 by Marin McCall to include Grey’s quotes 10-21.