When we first met Bailey’s interns in season 1 of Grey’s Anatomy, it was clear that George O’Malley was the sweetheart/underdog of the mix – even when he didn’t want to be. He didn’t like hurting people’s feelings, and he didn’t always stand up for himself. But he had heart. And he was smart. Proof? Dr. Burke quickly identified George as “his guy” because of George’s instincts and ability to work well under pressure (heart surgery in an elevator, anyone?). However, all interns make mistakes, and poor George just so happened to be the first of the bunch to do so. Therefore, we was forever labeled “007.” Get it? License to kill? Good one, Alex.
Five seasons later, George was still the heart of the show. By then, he had talked Bailey through a difficult birth – she named her child after him – he had what can only be described as the most traumatic bedroom experience of all time with Meredith, he lost his father, he got married, he got divorced, he fell for Izzie, and then he evolved into the hospital’s finest ER resident. And when his best friend got skin cancer, he was there to help her make the most important decision of her life (not to mention walk her down the aisle). But by the end of season 5, George needed something more. And thanks to Owen’s influence, he believed that the Army was his calling. But oddly enough, sweet George and his puppy-dog eyes joining the Army was not the most surprising thing that happened in the final episodes of season 5.
After weeks of wondering “Will Izzie live or die?” George was the one who ended up leaving us in the most shocking moment in Grey’s history. (I said it.) Here’s how it went down: After George told Dr. Bailey of his plans to join the Army, she and Callie decided to organize an intervention – George can’t go into the Army! He’ll get killed! Well, turns out he doesn’t need the Army for that. See, the doctors spent all day helping this unidentifiable hero they called John Doe (as hospitals do). Apparently, John Doe threw himself in front of a bus to save a complete stranger and was then dragged under said bus for BLOCKS, an experience that left him unrecognizable. But between worrying about Izzie’s health and organizing O’Malley’s intervention, the doctors barely gave John Doe a chance to make himself known – until he wrote something in Meredith’s palm. What did he write? 0.0.7. I. have. chills. Join me, won’t you?
This moment caught me so off guard that I (embarrassingly) fell to my knees and screamed “GEOORRGEE!” at my television screen. And yes, I did have company over. But the fact that sweet, adorable George was such a hero and that the doctors had been talking about “O’Malley” in front of “John Doe” all day, it was all just too much. And then the ending of the episode? When Izzie sees George all handsome in the Army uniform he never got to wear? Could this be more heartbreaking? Um, yes. Izzie could survive and leave George on his own. Although I guess I’m happy she survived. Whatever, I don’t have time for any more feelings; I’m too focused on George.
Not only was this a rough way to go—dragged under a freakin’ bus—but it was George! And the doctors had no idea. So now, years later, Meredith’s gasp and those two words—It’s George!—still haunt me and my tear ducts every time I remember what happened to one of my favorite characters. Was it a great moment? Obviously. But will I ever get over it? Obviously not.