‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Fans Criticize Writers For Repeating This Tired TV Trope — Again

Relationships on Grey’s Anatomy have been all over the place over the last 16 years, with a lot of them being more creative than the usual prime-time soap. Many of the romances there have led to some interesting insights into how people treat one another, if also some incredulous moves that bothered some viewers.

One of the hottest relationships in the history of the show was the marriage between Derek Shepherd and Addison Montgomery (first), then later Meredith Grey. Of course, she became a widow as a result of his death, leading to one of the biggest romance heartbreaks in TV history.

Since then, some fans think the show has floundered on the relationship front. On Reddit, fans think the show has simply run out of gas and pulling out far too many tired romantic devices.

Is it true the show is on automatic pilot now?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON, CHANDRA WILSON on Grey's Anatomy
CAMILLA LUDDINGTON, CHANDRA WILSON | Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images

There’s definitely still fans for Grey’s Anatomy based on the response to critical analysis pieces and ratings, including those who use DVR’s to watch. This kind of fan devotion should make the writers happy, though any writing team will feel burned out after 16 years.

Most writers start to run out of ideas within a decade and may feel like they want to expand their horizons with movies or a different TV genre.

Since the writing team is headed by Shonda Rhimes, there’s a powerful figurehead who seems to always stay inspired in her storytelling. Even so, Rhimes has probably felt burned out herself more than once juggling dozens of characters.

All possibility exists she let some characters stagnate a little over the years and ultimately wrote them out as a result after not being able to fix their story trajectories. In some people’s view, it was because she had some personal issues with actors like Patrick Dempsey and Katherine Heigl.

Those rumors have never been confirmed. Still, it’s worth looking at some of the overused romantic tropes the show has used in the last season to prove the show’s writing team might be tired.

Fans note specific romantic tropes the show always turns to

Anyone who reads Reddit regularly will see that many Grey’s Anatomy fans chat on there as well, sometimes critically of the contrived plots the show concocts in recent seasons. Someone wrote in recently complaining about three overused romantic tropes the show leans on when they seem to run out of ideas.

One of those is the romantic triangle, something seen recently with Owen, Amelia, and Teddy during the previous season. Outside of being a reliable complication in romantic entanglements, triangles have probably been done more than any other romantic plot in TV sitcoms and dramas.

Setting them up always seems contrived and usually resolve in typical disastrous ways.

Then there’s the so-called “catastrophe card” where one of the characters finds out they have a disease, or maybe even discovering they’re pregnant. No medical drama has ever done more character health/event catastrophes like Grey’s has.

Maybe they’ve done it better than anybody else, yet they seem to be copying themselves in the last few years.

Can the show coast on well-worn tropes?

Any Grey’s fan would probably argue the above tropes are a major part of the show’s brand and shouldn’t be deviated from. Perhaps this is why the show continues to bring in respectable viewer numbers.

Shonda Rhimes hasn’t addressed the above plot devices in interviews. Regardless, most should expect they’ll continue to tap into them as convenient plot devices because fans probably like the familiar stories they’ve seen for years.

There is such a thing as comfort TV. This might be the first medical drama to maintain classic tropes as a form of nostalgia rather than reinvent the wheel late in the game.