‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Fans Need to Stop Calling Every Bad Relationship ‘Toxic’

ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy can be classified as a medical soap opera with a focus on relationships, toxic or otherwise. As the show enters its 18th season, the romantic drama that made it a hit still plays a part. However, some fans call a lot of the bad relationships toxic. Is it true or is the term being overused?

What is considered a toxic relationship?

One Reddit user offered the definition of a toxic relationship: One or both of the partners are intentionally trying to harm the other. This could be either through unhealthy competition, emotional or physical harm, or repeated infidelity. Bad relationships featuring drama don’t necessarily mean the relationship is toxic, just not well suited. Relationships themselves don’t need to be toxic to have moments that earn that title.

Not every desired relationship works, on screen or off. However, Grey’s Anatomy fans may go a bit overboard with calling every somewhat dysfunctional suited relationship toxic. One Reddit poster requests: “Please for the love of god stop overusing and misusing the word “toxic” not every imperfect relationship is a toxic relationship. There were definitely a few in the show but for the most part, most relationships were flawed, not toxic.”

What ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ relationships were bad, and which were truly toxic?

Cristina and Owen get married on Grey's Anatomy
Sandra Oh as Cristina and Kevin McKidd as Owen in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | ABC

As bad relationships go Owen and Christina were one of the best examples of a bad couple. Their relationship wasn’t necessarily toxic. But there is no doubt that Owens’s intentions became toxic after the abortion, thus ending their relationship.

One truly toxic relationship was that of Jo and Jason. After Jo got out of an abusive relationship, she attempted to use the OB-GYN as means to make Alex jealous. However, Jason turned out to be a lot like her ex-husband. He was not heard from again after Alex dealt with him.

Another bad setup was the mostly one-sided relationship between Callie and George. Callie spends her time trying to convince George she loves him without very much emotional response from George. The two fall out after George cheats on her. So the relationship was ill-suited, but not definitively toxic.

True love relationships that had toxic moments


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Meredith and Derek’s relationship featured moments when one or the other created a toxic environment. However, their relationship required hard work from the beginning. Overcoming other relationships, tragic events, and bringing children into the mix caused problems. But they maintained their communication and worked through it to the very end.

Izzy and Denny’s relationship was a whirlwind of love, trust, and desperation. With Denny’s heart condition their love was doomed. But they tried to make it work. Izzy fought hard and risked her career to be able to save his life. Even though she ultimately failed to save him, they loved each other, making the relationship one of the best on the show.

Toxic relationships involve one or both of the partners are truly trying to sabotage or harm the other. Bad relationships involve people who don’t work together no matter how much they desire one another. Grey’s Anatomy definitely features all kinds of bad relationships. But few earn the title of toxic.