Spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy are ahead. A few weeks ago, Grey’s Anatomy sent shockwaves through its fandom by announcing a foundational cast member’s exit as the series aired live on ABC. The subject of the news was Jesse Williams, who has appeared on Grey’s Anatomy since 2009 as medical dynasty heir Jackson Avery and even directed three episodes of the drama during his tenure. Grey’s then pulled a similar — but not identical — move this past Thursday night, confirming yet another doctor would be leaving the halls of Grey Sloan as Williams’ farewell episode, “Tradition,” premiered.
This time, it is Tom Koracick, played by Ally McBeal’s Greg Germann, who is on the way out. “Tradition” also serves as Germann’s final episode as a series regular, Deadline confirmed as the episode aired (Tom may still reappear in the future as a guest star). The casting news was heavily eclipsed on social media by viewers’ emotional goodbyes to Jackson, who was the last remaining member of Grey’s Anatomy heroine Meredith Grey’s (Ellen Pompeo) surgical resident class, as she notes in the chapter. Germann, by stark contrast, joined the Grey’s Anatomy family less than four years ago in October 2017.
While Tom’s Grey’s Anatomy departure may not permanently alter the series in the same way Jackson’s exit does, it does tell us a lot about where the show is planning to go next.
“Tradition” drops two series of breadcrumbs about Grey’s Anatomy's future that are only clarified once you know the episode is actually Tom’s last. The first plotline involves Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) and Teddy Altman (Kim Raver), the most exhausting on-again, off-again couple to walk Grey Sloan. Last season, Teddy began an affair with ex-boyfriend Tom as she prepared her wedding to Owen, a man she has loved since her Army days in the mid-aughts. Teddy and Owen’s relationship was destroyed when the former accidentally left the latter a voicemail of her having sex with Tom… on the day of the planned Altman-Hunt wedding. Owen has spent all of season 17 infuriated with Teddy and her betrayal. Owen’s anger only intensifies when he learns Teddy was in love with a woman, 9/11 victim Allison Browne (Sherri Saum), and never told him about it (but did name their daughter after her ex). It's a petty and harmful spat.
In “Tradition,” all of that changes. Teddy and Owen finally have sex in an all-call room at the start of the episode. If Tom were not leaving Grey’s Anatomy, this hookup could easily serve as the third ignition to the Owen-Teddy-Tom love triangle. Just a few episodes ago, during the season’s seventh episode, “Helplessly Hoping,” Tom begged Teddy to say she never loved him — if only to make his grief over their messy relationship a little less painful. Now that Tom is leaving Seattle to follow Jackson to Boston (as the close of “Tradition” confirms), the frustrating love triangle is solved; one of the legs has vanished, leaving only Teddy and Owen left. There is not a single obstacle in their way.
so not only are we saying goodbye to bae Jackson...BUT TOM TOO??????? nah uh i didn’t sign up for this #GreysAnatomy @GreysABC pic.twitter.com/NaWUb67qrP— fab :) marina and jackson day! (@karevschipbaby) May 21, 2021
Me for the next month knowing Tom has left the in the same episode as Jackson #GreysAnatomy pic.twitter.com/PiPC1lbNMV— Codi Hunt ✨ (@AmeliasKoracick) May 21, 2021
With no more secrets between them, empathetic understanding finally on the table, and passions inflamed once again, Teddy and Owen have a clear path for proper reconciliation. Even Owen admits he barely understands his unavoidable pull towards Teddy in “Tradition,’ telling Winston (Anthony Hill) and Linc (Chris Carmack) when prodded on his newfound “friendliness” with Teddy, “I couldn’t explain it, even if I tried.” A full season after Teddy and Owen were initially intended to wed, don’t be surprised if they end season 17 re-engaged or even married. This has been a difficult year for everyone in Grey’s Anatomy and they’re all inclined to leap for any scrap of joy available to them.
Then there is the matter of Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone). Amelia, a neurosurgical genius, has spent 99% of Grey’s Anatomy season 17 in the Grey home — or “The Sister House,” as Owen calls it in “Tradition” — juggling new motherhood and the pressure of raising Meredith’s children during their mom’s COVID battle. Amelia is momentarily allowed to slip into doctor mode during “Good As Hell” two episodes ago, but is quickly pushed back into her maternal duties after a single surgery.
“I used to get dressed,” Amelia says dreamily to Linc at the beginning of “Tradition.” “I used to get texts about post-op scans.”
Now that Tom has left Grey Sloan, Amelia will no longer have to wish for the bloody joys of work — she’ll have to go. Tom was the attending neurosurgeon at the hospital. Tom is no longer in the position. The only person who can fill those shoes now is Amelia. As chief of surgery Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) recently complained to Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington), she’s constantly losing doctors during the pandemic. With Tom gone, Bailey won’t be able to tap Amelia back into surgery fast enough. This moment comes at the perfect time, since Amelia will have far fewer strenuous family obligations with a newly recovered Meredith back home at last.
Cry for Tom Koracick if you need to — but know his exit is one of the most efficient developments to happen to Grey’s Anatomy in a while.