Even though Grey's Anatomy is an ensemble drama, certain characters do get to hog the spotlight from time to time. (We're already wondering if this season is a bit too Callie-centric!) That's not always a bad thing, though; in fact, in can lead to some really fantastic episodes. Here are ten episodes that gave our docs a chance to really chew the scenery — and to great effect.
Meredith — "Some Kind of Miracle"
Hovering between life and death after nearly drowning at the ferry disaster, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) imagines herself in some sort of afterlife waiting room along with Denny, Bomb Guy, and other dearly deceased. They make her realize that life is worth living, and she has her own "I want to live!" moment, à la Will Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life.
Derek — "Elevator Love Letter"
There are plenty of dark and twisty Derek (Patrick Dempsey) moments from which to choose, but Derek's best moment was when he was also at his McDreamiest: the scene in which he proposes to Meredith. First of all, he showed Meredith a chronicle of their relationship through brain scans, and that was killer romantic. But then he verbally made love to Meredith, praising her all up, down, and sideways. He didn't ask her to marry him; he told her he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
Cristina — "Didn't We Almost Have It All?"
After a season of acquiescing to try to please Burke, we finally saw Burke realize that he had changed Cristina (Sandra Oh) and Cristina realize that she had betrayed herself to suit him. So when their wedding fell apart at the last minute and Cristina found that Burke had abruptly left, she had a breakdown of simultaneous jubilation and grief — one that only an actress at Sandra Oh's caliber could pull off.
Alex — "What a Difference a Day Makes"
It only took five seasons, but Alex (Justin Chambers) finally became a man in this episode. In his surprise wedding to Izzie, he told her that he's a man, a husband, and accountable to someone other than himself. This is the Alex we've grown to love — the sweet, compassionate Alex underneath all that jerky, crude exterior.
Bailey — "Lay Your Hands on Me"
Bailey (Chandra Wilson)'s life is thrown into a tailspin when a bookcase falls on her son Tuck. She and her husband immediately start slinging blame, but the most pivotal Bailey moment is when she breaks down with doubt, wondering if she left the baby gate open. Why Chandra Wilson didn't win some sort of award for this episode is beyond us.
Richard — "Freedom, Part 2"
When he bumped into Meredith at Derek's trailer, Richard (James Pickens Jr.) finally addressed the elephant in the room. "I'm not a bad man," he said. "I know I'm the villain in your story, but I'm not a bad man." And then he felt pumped up enough to go find Adele and tell her the same thing, adding, "I'm telling you: I'm your husband, and I want to come home to my wife." Dude was on a roll!
Callie — "Song Beneath the Song"
This was a no-brainer choice for Callie. Sara Ramirez's voice wowed us in her rendition of "Chasing Cars." Her acting abilities made Callie's terror palpable. But it was the grand finale, a showstopping version of "The Story," that combined both talents and took our collective breath away.
Arizona — "Invest in Love"
Arizona (Jessica Capshaw)'s compassion and dedication to a dying kid won the hospital a hefty donation, but it also wreaked havoc on her morale. So it was not the best time for Callie to throw her a surprise party. And yet, Arizona saw past the gesture to the woman behind it, and said those three magic words out of the blue — instantly launching Calzona into the pantheon of Grey's couples.
Lexie — "Tainted Obligation"
It's difficult to choose one great Lexie (Chyler Leigh) moment, but one of our favorites was when Thatcher needed a liver transplant, and Lexie begged Meredith to be his donor since she herself could not. It was a lot to ask, especially because she and Meredith had two polar opposite experiences of Thatcher as a father. "So I'm asking you. Give me my dad."
Owen — "Suicide is Painless"
Not many characters get the flashback treatment, but it seemed inevitable that we'd see just what happened to Owen (Kevin McKidd) on the battlefield to make him so PTSD-ridden. Turns out, his squad has taken out by an IED, and his commanding officer died in his arms only minutes before rescue because the guy willfully and peacefully accepted death — a decision Owen never understood and which haunted him for years afterward.