‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Why Some Fans Don’t Want Richard to Have a Standalone Episode

Fans are eagerly anticipating the next season of Grey’s Anatomy, and there’s been a lot of discussion around what to expect. A recent announcement told us the show may be working on a standalone episode centered around Richard, played by original cast member James Pickens Jr.

However, this idea didn’t excite longtime fans. What’s the plan for this episode, and will Grey’s Anatomy be able to pull it off? Here’s what we know so far. 

Fans aren’t happy with the idea of a standalone episode for Richard

Grey's Anatomy
James Pickens Jr. | Jessica Brooks via Getty Images

Fans will be learning a lot more about Richard in season 16. Showrunner, Krista Vernoff told TV Line that he’ll be the subject of a special episode this season. “I don’t feel like he’s quite been given his due,” Vernoff said. 

But fans don’t seem to agree. In a Reddit thread discussing the news, viewers seemed to feel like they’d watched enough about Richard, and would rather see storylines that revolve around new characters.

One poster wrote, “I’m sorry but I would much rather have storylines revolving the new interns and developing their characters (so we have more to judge them on instead of them just being annoying interns) than have old dinosaurs like Webber get their own episode when they’ve had 16 seasons to draw out their same back stories. like we get it, ur an alcoholic and u had an affair we’re over it.”

Another fan had a similar reaction. “Seriously?! He kinda had one last season. I do not dislike him, but I want to see development for other new characters (Levi, the interns, Link…even one for Jackson or Deluca would be good)… Richard’s story has been explored many times, and honestly now isn’t even that interesting…”

The format of standalone episodes is changing

Although we’ve seen standalone episodes before, Vernoff explained that Richard’s won’t be like standalone episodes of the past. “The standalone episodes are always evolving,” Vernoff said. “They were born out of scheduling, because we could shoot them simultaneously with other episodes. But my hope for this season is to make those episodes feel a little more like our traditional episodes.”

A good example of what the Grey’s Anatomy cast is shooting for is an episode from season 14 titled One Day Like This. “That was a standalone, but it didn’t feel like one,” said Vernoff. The episode featured a day in the life of Meredith, April and Owen, and although it featured its own standalone storyline, it fit into the overall story of Grey’s Anatomy a little better than some of the previous standalones. “We’re trying to make those episodes feel a little more cohesive with the rest of the season,” Vernoff explained. 

Will the new standalone format be enough for fans to accept an episode for Richard?

Vernoff thinks Richard’s story has a lot more explaining to do, but fans have made it clear that they aren’t interested. If they do go ahead and make a standalone centered around Richard, will fans tune out, or will the format change Vernoff implied be enough to keep viewers interested? 

The Grey’s Anatomy writers will need to be sure that when they’re creating the episode for Richard, it’s also moving along the plot for the rest of the cast. It would be possible to tell a story about Richard that’s interlocked with the other characters, who fans are more interested in, and still have it be a standalone storyline, but it would be a difficult task. As long as the crew is aware of this problem, it may be possible. 

For now, we’ll have to wait to see what they come up with. The good news is that most fans love Grey’s Anatomy enough, that they’d be willing to stick with the series through one bad episode. But if this becomes a habit, Grey’s Anatomy may have a problem on their hands.