Grey's Anatomy fans know the drill: Person A loves Person B, but so does Person C. Person B chooses one and then after months of sexual tension, the other. And finally, Person B actually has to decide … once and for all. And after a pivotal and much-anticipated moment of clarity (possibly in an examination room), the choice is made. Ladies and gentlemen: It’s the art of the love triangle.
Grey’s knows it well. It’s been practicing this very art since the arrival of Addison (Kate Walsh) in the Season 1 finale, which is why we want to take a look back at the many love triangles that have filled our televisions and our lives for the past nine years.
Here, we rate the most significant love triangles of Grey’s Anatomy on a scale of 1-10 based on the three things that matter most: hotness, intrigue and that final moment when someone makes a choice.
Meredith, Derek, Addison: It was the love triangle that no one saw coming. McDreamy is married?! And his wife looks like that?! We can only imagine what thoughts ran through Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) head in that moment when Derek (Patrick Dempsey) spoke the five words that marked the end of her relationship as she knew it, “Meredith, I am so sorry.”
Hotness: Here, we’re looking at both the physical attractiveness of those involved as well as the chemistry. Does anyone else remember that moment Derek and Meredith made eye contact from across the dance floor at prom? Not to mention what happened just after that. Yeah, this baby is definitely a 10.
Intrigue: This triangle would’ve been much too obvious had it not been for the wedding ring on Addison’s finger. But with McDreamy’s morality, the marriage struck just enough fear in our hearts. We’ll give this a 9.
Decision Time: We’re not sure when this decision was technically made. On Derek’s part, you could say it was prom. But on Meredith’s part, it wasn’t until after getting back together, breaking up, having break-up sex and finally going to therapy that she built the house of candles. So we’re going to go with an 8 (two point deduction for cheesiness).
Meredith, Derek, McVet: This triangle kicked off when Derek stood in the doorway of Meredith’s kitchen and threw his hat in the ring by finally saying the L word. From there on out, we got lots of dating, one pint of homemade ice cream and one very stoned Meredith.
Hotness: Anyone else remember Meredith’s dream … complete with McDreamy and McVet? 9.
Intrigue: As much as we always knew that Mer would choose Derek, we have to admit that Finn (Chris O’Donnell) was quite the charmer. We’ll give this one a 6.
Decision Time: All it took for Meredith to realize that Derek was “the one” was for him to walk away. It was frustrating, but heartfelt nonetheless: 7.
Alex, Izzie, Denny: One jackass with a heart of gold, one good guy with a heart of paper (literally) and one LVAD combined to create some of the most heartbreaking scenes in Grey’s History.
Hotness: Although all parties involved were undoubtedly attractive, there wasn’t a lot of sexual tension between Izzie (Katherine Heigl) and Alex (Justin Chambers). However, the tension between Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Izzie easily made up for that: 7.
Intrigue: The intrigue around this particular triangle was more about the fate of one very dapper patient as opposed to Izzie’s decision (Let’s face it: She chose Denny from the start.), but regardless, it kept us on our toes: 8.
Decision Time: Izzie’s “What about me” speech, Denny’s proposal and her prom dress? Come on. Really? 9.
George, Callie, Izzie: Every Grey’s fan has an opinion on the Izzie-George situation. Here is ours:
Hotness: We never really felt the chemistry between George (T. R. Knight) and Callie (Sara Ramirez), but after that one drunken night at Meredith’s house, we couldn’t help but feel the chemistry between the besties. And, of course, nothing was more intense than the way Callie looked at Izzie (not like that). We’ll give this a 6.
Intrigue: George marrying Callie after his father’s death was never a good decision, which made us automatically intrigued as to what was going to happen next. But once the drunken night with Izzie actually happened, the intrigue seemed to die down pretty dramatically: 5.
Decision Time: George remembering his infidelity while at lunch with Callie’s father and then having to resist Izzie while working up the nerve to tell Callie the truth made for some great television (particularly that elevator kiss). The post-decision storylines of bad sex and a lack of chemistry? Not so much. But we’ll give those few moments a solid 7.
Callie, Mark, Arizona: We know that Mark (Eric Dane) and Callie were never in love, but clearly he posed a threat to her relationship with Arizona (Jessica Capshaw). Hey, he did get her pregnant … and he was kind of the reason that she and Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) didn’t work out.
Hotness: Between the girl-on-girl factor and the McSteamy factor, every man and every woman’s fantasy came true with this one, but we’re taking off one point for chemistry. Like we said, Callie and Mark weren’t in love: 9.
Intrigue: We never really expected Mark to end up with Callie, but we did wonder if Arizona would stick around, so we’ll give this a 5.
Decision Time: A family with three super hot parents? Automatic 8.
Owen, Cristina, Teddy: Teddy (Kim Raver) knew Owen (Kevin McKidd) before he got PTSD, but Cristina (Sandra Oh) was the one who saved him. It was an attending versus her protege. Yep, this one definitely had us biting our nails.
Hotness: We give this one an 8 purely for that scene when Owen admitted that he loved Teddy at one point … but now loves Cristina.
Intrigue: Another 8. We’ll admit it: We weren’t always sure that Cristina was going to get her man.
Decision Time: Teddy and Owen becoming friends again? We can dig it. 7.
Lexie, Mark, Jackson/Alex/Mark’s girlfriend: Oh Lexie (Chyler Leigh) and Mark. They were constantly letting people come between them, and it started with Mark’s very superficial (and very pregnant) teenage daughter. Regardless, these two became masters of longing glances, sexual tension and romantic speeches.
Hotness: Have you seen these people and the way they look at one another? 10.
Intrigue: There were more epic speeches than we can count in the many Mark-Lexie love triangles: 9.
Decision Time: Lexie’s speech outside the hospital broke our hearts, and was only topped by Mark’s final speech to a dying Lexie claiming that they were “meant to be.” Ugh. Talk about bad timing. And yet, it’s still an 8 in our book.
Bailey, Eli, Ben: One of them was her boyfriend and the other was strictly her lover. And they were both smokin’ hot.
Hotness: 9. No description necessary.
Intrigue: We were torn about which guy Bailey (Chandra Wilson) should choose when Ben (Jason George) showed back up. But luckily, she wasn’t: 7.
Decision Time: Like most things, this was something Bailey just knew: 7.
Chief, Ellis, Adele: The show’s oldest love triangle is also what started it all: If it weren’t for Richard (James Pickens Jr.) and Ellis’ (Kate Burton) longstanding affair, Meredith might have ended up being an emotionally stable adult without needing the help of a shrink. We said might.
Hotness: No offense to a young Ellis, but we were never her biggest fan: 5.
Intrigue: Again, we weren’t ever very invested in the love triangle, though we always wondered what is was that made Richard love Ellis enough to sleep with her but not enough to leave Adele (Loretta Devine): 6
Decision Time: It seemed like Richard always knew his decision. It just took him a little while to admit it to himself: 5.
April, Jackson, Jesus: From the show’s oldest love triangle to its newest … Jackson, April (Sarah Drew) and Jesus. She loves them both, but which one will she choose?
Hotness: We feel highly uncomfortable rating this one. Next.
Intrigue: This is the first love triangle to really delve into religion, and April seems pretty invested in her relationship with the big man upstairs. We really don’t know what she’ll do: 8.
Decision Time: Only time will tell …
So, all in all, it looks like it’s a tie between the classic love triangle of Meredith, Derek and Addison and the always changing love triangles of Mark and Lexie. And knowing Grey’s, this list will only expand with time. But will any moment ever top the oh-so-scandalous adult prom? We doubt it.
Catch the next new episode of Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday, November 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Samantha Highfill is a contributing writer to Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter at @samhighfill.
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