On a milestone that large, you know a series is long-overdue for nostalgia-filled walk down memory lane. And that's exactly what “Who Tells Your Story” was, to great success. While the installment is technically about the fact lead character Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) is up for a career-making Harper Avery Award — think the Oscars, but for doctors — the episode's real aim to pull as many fan heartstrings as possible.
To accomplish that lofty goal,
Grey's had to harken back to the many doctors we've grown to love, and then subsequently lose to death or talent contract negotiations, since the show began in 2005. Everyone from Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and Derek “McDreamy” Sheperd (Patrick Dempsey) to Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) got their moment(s) in the sun. Keep reading to find out how.
Harper Avery (Chelcie Ross) Hey, Meredith’s shiny new award is named after Harper — and he appeared in two episodes of Grey’s.
Derek Shepherd The first person anyone even talks about in Grey’s 300th episode is the late Derek Shepherd. Meredith and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) take the ferry — Derek has a thing for ferry boats — so our heroine can commune with her late husband before possibly winning her big award. “Was he happy for you?” Alex asks. “No! He was jealous,” Meredith jokes. But, everyone is jealous about the surgeon’s inevitable big win. Later in the episode, Meredith and Derek’s daughter Zola (Aniela Gumbs) admits she misses her father. At least little Zola is planning to be a brain surgeon in memory of him. Similarly, Derek’s sister Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) realizes a heroic man has a would-be-fatal brain injury because her dead brother was “in her head” about ensuring the patient got a CT scan. “And he saved this guy. He was that good,” Amelia says of Derek. The final nod to Derek arrives during the Harper Avery acceptance speech Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) gives in Meredith’s place. In the speech, Jackson says Meredith’s loss of her husband is one of the many tragedies that has pushed her to become a better doctor.
Ellis Grey (Kate Burton) Meredith’s mother is another person Jackson mentions in his proxy Harper Avery acceptance speech on Meredith’s behalf. Ellis won two of the awards during her own lifetime, and now Meredith has one too. Since Meredith decided to stay at Grey Sloan to deal with multiple medical crises, rather than head to Boston for the awards show, she’s surrounded by her colleagues when she wins. While Meredith looks at all of her friends applauding, she sees the ghost of her mom clapping right along with them.
Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh) Lexie, who died in a plane crash, is the last big loss that pushed Meredith to her now-boundless greatness, and Jackson confirms as much in his speech.
Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) In true gutting Grey’s Anatomy fashion, Lexie wasn’t the only person to die due to injuries sustained in that 2012 plane crash. Original cast member and Lexie’s love interest Mark also suffered fatal health complications after the accident. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) remembers the late doctor in “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story,” when she tells a patient her daughter is Sofia, whose dad is Mark, is coming to live with her. Although Arizona is nervous about the big change, she admits Mark would be able to calm her down immediately. Because this is a total nostalgia fest, Arizona even does a perfect impersonation of the late great Mark “McSteamy” Sloan.
Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) Arizona also shouted out Callie by mentioning the fact Sofia was living with her “other mom” before the child moved back to Seattle. Of course, Callie — of CalZona shipping fame — is that other mom.
Preston Burke Even disgraced Grey’s Anatomy stars can get a nod during the 300th episode. Meredith is convinced one of her patients looks like BFF Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), and calls in Cristina’s ex-husband Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) to confirm her observation. When Owen disagrees, Meredith jokes, “Maybe I text Burke and send him a picture.” Owen doesn’t even entertain the idea of involving Burke and simply says, “Meredith, no one is like Cristina.” True that, Owen, true that.
Cristina Yang Speaking of Cristina, her presence looms over the entire episode, despite the fact she technically doesn’t appear. That’s because of that aforementioned doppelgänger, Cleo Kim (Jackie Chung), who is the spitting (younger) image of Meredith’s person. Cleo is even a second-year resident at another Seattle hospital. Cleo screams things like “Stop looking at us! We are not your friends” when she learns of her own doppelgänger status, but still asks Meredith to “pretend” she’s Cristina when the young woman realizes she needs life-saving surgery from Mer. Cristina, too, is nothing but pragmatic. The episode also ends with a pseudo appearance by the real Cristina, who calls Meredith as she and Alex are popping Harper Avery award-celebrating champagne in the intern tunnel we all grew to love during the beginning of Grey’s.
George O'Malley (T.R. Knight) Cristina isn’t the only original cast member who gets their very own baby doppelgänger for the 300th. The late, beloved George does as well with Greg Williams (Brandon Tyler Russell), who has a spinal fracture that could turn into a severed spine. Greg, with his near-deadly injuries, is rightly freaked out when he finds out his Grey’s Anatomy twin is dead. Yet, of course, the Grey Sloan team saves the day, but not before Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) talks about how much the actual George’s death traumatized her for a year.
Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl)
The third and final doppelgänger from
past is Liza Simmons (Eryn Rea), who is very pregnant, and as tall, blonde, and “perky,” as Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington) says,
as Izzie ever was
. Liza gets dragged into the medical melodrama when she passes out and Alex has to carry her through the hospital in the same way he cradled the real Izzie so many years ago.
When the doctors figure out there’s a tumor on Liza’s placenta, Alex has to act as the pregnant woman’s support system. This entire thing is only a tad weird for Jo, who has to watch her boyfriend dote on the youthful doppelgänger of his own ex-wife. Thankfully, it’s proven Jo has nothing to worry about when Alex explains he has created an imaginary life for the real Izzie that is full of love, children, and muffin smells. His made-up life for Izzie is so wonderful because Alex wants his ex to be as happy as he currently is with Jo.