‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Fans Still Can’t Watch Michael O’Neill’s Episodes Without Feeling Traumatized

Grey’s Anatomy fans are no stranger to drama and tragedy. The long-running series is gearing up for its 17th season set to premiere toward the end of 2020.

While plenty of episodes have left viewers on the edge of their seats, a few of them are still very traumatic to watch. While beloved character deaths are always difficult to cope with, it was the two-part season six finale that left viewers feeling shocked and uncomfortable.

The infamous Michael O’Neill episode

DOUGALD PARK, MICHAEL O’NEILL on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Adam Larkey/ Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

The finale episode that still makes fans tremble today includes a grieving husband named Gary Clark (played by Michael O’Neill), who goes on a shooting rampage after the death of his wife.

He kills two interns and wounds fan favorites Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and Alex (Justin Chambers). What’s more is that Clark wasn’t finished with his shooting frenzy.

He intended to find and kill the chief, Dr. Webber (James Pickens Jr.). Fortunately, Webber convinces Clark his wife wouldn’t want him to continue with all the carnage, but not before he turns the gun on himself.

Fans were also up in arms because they learned at the beginning of the episode that Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) was pregnant with Derek’s baby. The joy would be short-lived as she would have a miscarriage before the episode’s end.

Another reason this episode is so haunting is due to the range of emotions O’Neill’s character goes through and how he portrays them.

One Reddit user said: “He really is a tremendous actor. He makes you feel pure joy for his love for his wife, intense agony and pity when she passes, and absolute rage when he lashed out at the doctors.”

Others claim that they, “Can’t watch him in any other role after this.”

O’Neill has had roles in Rectify, Shooter, and most recent Council of Dads, but it’s his role in Grey’s that he’s clearly recognized for.

A tough ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ role

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While fans cringe at the thought of the episode, it wasn’t a picnic for O’Neill either. While he’s proud of the work done, he claims he needed to enter therapy after the role. 

He told EW: “On the one hand, it’s gratifying to be a part of something that was so impactful…. [And] I’m awfully grateful that I’m getting to do what I’m doing now.”

The shooting episode is one of the most poignant throughout Grey’s Anatomy. It was a turning point for the show and changed a lot of the characters from that point forward. O’Neill isn’t sure if he would be a part of it again.

In the same interview, he claimed: “I don’t think I can do it now. I’m older. Life looks different to me now. My kids are pretty much grown. I’m trying to keep a roof over their heads. But it was compelling television and I’m so grateful Shonda [Rhimes] trusted me with it.”

The future of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

After being on the air for 15 years, some think it’s time for the show to finally end. With the ever-revolving door of characters and only a handful of the cast members from earlier days left, some think that Grey’s is stale and out of storylines. But die-hard fans don’t see it that way.

A writer for The New York Times says she watches the show because of the characters and their relationships. Not only that but, “The show has also never shied from hot-button issues (Meredith has recently become obsessed with the inequity of the American health-insurance system) or from addressing the moral and ethical quandaries of fallible doctors blinded by hubris, pigheadedness or lust.”

The Grey’s Anatomy formula has worked for 17 seasons and fans plan to enjoy it as long as it lasts.