‘Grey’s Anatomy’: The Couple That Shonda Rhimes Says is the ‘Most Riveting Relationship’

Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes wrote the medical drama in the early 2000s. When the show premiered in 2005, the writer had no idea how successful the series would be. Additionally, Rhimes couldn’t have predicted the significance of some of the show’s relationships. 

Like her fans, the Bridgerton creator shared in an interview that she finds one Grey’s couple more fascinating than the rest. 

'Grey's Anatomy' cast wearing scrubs and posing for the camera in 2005.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ cast | Frank Ockenfels/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes found Cristina Yang and Preston Burke ‘riveting’ 

Since its inception, Grey’s Anatomy has shown multiple Seattle doctors’ personal and professional lives. During season one, fans watched the early romance between Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). In the first few episodes, Meredith’s best friend, Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) scolded her for dating their boss. Soon, however, viewers learned that Cristina was secretly dating another attending surgeon, Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington). 

'Grey's Anatomy' actors Isaiah Washington as Preston Burke and Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang staring intensely at each other.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Isaiah Washington as Preston Burke and Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang | Scott Garfield/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

RELATED: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Pilot Episode Made Such a Subtle Nod To Shonda Rhimes Fans Probably Missed It

Eventually, Cristina and Burke went public with their relationship. In season 3, they became engaged. Unfortunately, Washington’s real-life drama with his co-star, T.R. Knight, resulted in him getting fired. Following the actor’s exit, his character left Cristina at their wedding’s altar and moved away. 

Although Washington received walking papers, Rhimes shared with Entertainment Weekly that she enjoyed watching Oh and Washington together. She also said their groundbreaking romance was “riveting” to witness. 

“It’s about the chemistry they have,” Rhimes said of the exes. “They were one of the most riveting relationships I have ever seen on television,” she says. “They were iconic for a lot of people and Burke was a different kind of black man than had been seen on television before, and Cristina was a different kind of woman than had been seen on television before. I think that people really loved them together — as damaging as that relationship was for both of them. I think people really loved watching them struggle.”

Why Shonda Rhimes decided to bring Isaiah Washington back on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ 

Washington exited Grey’s Anatomy in 2007. Despite her love interest leaving, Oh stayed on the show as Cristina until 2014. After spending 10 seasons with Grey’s, the actor decided to focus on other projects. 

'Grey's Anatomy' stars Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang and Isaiah Washington as Preston Burke laughing during a scene.
Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang and Isaiah Washington as Preston Burke | Adam Larkey/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

RELATED: Shonda Rhimes Called This ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Character the ‘Walking Validation of My Dreams’

During Cristina’s final season, she reconnected with Burke. Once she lost the esteemed Harper Avery Award, he invited her to Switzerland. Burke asked Cristina to run his hospital in their reunion episode, bringing their teacher-student relationship full circle. 

Although Burke’s return didn’t please all Grey’s’ fans, Rhimes explained why his reunion with Cristina was necessary. 

“Isaiah is a person that we all love and have loved for a very long time. I feel like there have been a lot of people that have been like, ‘How can you do this?’ And I feel very strongly and fully believe in people’s ability to grow and change and learn from their mistakes and when they know better, to do better. If people don’t think that, over the course of seven years, it’s possible for a human being to change, then there really is no future for the human race at all.”

Did Rhimes quit ‘Grey’s’?

Grey’s Anatomy led to a lucrative career for Rhimes at ABC. While at the network, the writer created several more shows, including Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. However, after feeling like she was “dying” at ABC, she accepted an offer at Netflix in 2017. 

RELATED: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Shonda Rhimes Recalls Choosing the Music for When Cristina Yang Left — It ‘Was Brutal’

Although Rhimes’ company, Shondaland, still produces Grey’s Anatomy, she gave her longtime showrunner, Krista Vernoff, complete control of the show. 

Grey’s Anatomy returns for season 18 in Sept. 2021.