For Grey’s Anatomy fans, tonight marks the end of an era. An era that will forever be remembered as, if I can be so bold to assume, ‘The Golden Years’. Our beloved cardiothoracic surgeon Cristina Yang is going off to Switzerland to be a high-tech heart hologram holding doctor.
For me, Cristina is one of those characters that unexpectedly stands out more than the lead role. Like, Meredith is fine, but Cristina brings a certain edge into the show, and that’s all thanks to Sandra Oh. Fun fact: she originally auditioned to be Dr. Bailey (now played by Chandra Wilson), but didn’t get the part, and obviously she was eventually hired as Dr. Yang. But can you even imagine anyone else playing Yang? Sandra makes you actually root for this super Type A character, who sometimes has no regard for others’ feelings. But behind that tough exterior, you know she cares, and is loyal to her loved ones. And all those intricacies of the character are executed perfectly by Sandra Oh.
It’s hard to believe, but she’s never won an Emmy for this role. Yes she’s been nominated, and she’s even won a Golden Globe and SAG Award, but never the coveted Emmy. Yes, I get that most of the time awards are overrated, but like Ron Swanson says, they’re not stupid unless they go to the right people. Here just a few scenes from the past 10 seasons of Sandra Oh’s brilliant work as Cristina, that astonishingly never got her that golden statue. No matter what happens at the Emmys, thank you for sharing this amazing character with us for 10 years. You’ll always be our person.
Cristina Can’t Stop Crying
Season 2, Episode 3
Cristina, who is by all means in the definition of an “It’s Complicated” relationship with her boss, Dr. Burke, finds out she’s pregnant. And then loses the baby. Cristina is exactly a maternal type, or a sensitive type, or a type who cries for that matter, so the fact that she can’t stop after losing the baby is half tragic and half hilarious.
Cristina Can Breathe Again
Season 3, Episode 25
Like previously mentioned, Cristina’s relationship with Burke was anything but picture perfect. Off screen, Isaiah Washington said that thing and was fired, but luckily it kind of worked out for Cristina’s character. She and Burke were due to get married, but he called it off, and instead of feeling depressed about it, she felt extremely relieved. Easily my favorite Cristina/Sandra Oh ACTING moment ever. I still get the chills.
Cristina Tries to ‘Talk Girl’
Season 4, Episode 13
Cristina Yang is not a girly girl. She doesn’t gossip, she doesn’t naturally inquire about people’s personal lives. But bless her, this is her trying to fit into that mold.
Cristina Gets Choked By Owen
Season 5, Episode 19
When Cristina first meets Owen, he’s fresh from being a trauma surgeon in Iraq, but because of that, he has severe PTSD. They start a relationship but he unconsciously chokes her in her sleep – but she still does her best to help him cope.
Cristina Is Willing To Do Anything For Her Job
Season 6, Episode 11
When he was in Iraq, Owen forged a special friendship with Dr. Teddy Altman, who not so secretly was in love with him. However when she arrived at Seattle Grace (Mercy West I think at this point?) Owen was happily in a relationship with Cristina. Herein lies the love triangle – Cristina, the ever over-achieving heart surgeon looks up to attending cardiothoracic surgeon Teddy. She can’t seem to handle Cristina and Owen together and decides to leave the hospital, but in this scene, Cristina begs her to stay, promising her anything if she keeps her job at Seattle Grace. Even Owen. Note the last part of this clip – Sandra Oh emotes about 10 different emotions in a matter of seconds.
Cristina Misses Her Dad
Season 6, Episode 21
Again, Cristina isn’t one to show her emotions easily, and if she does, she has only been able to be completely comfortable around like three people. When talk of her dad who has passed away comes up, she can’t hold it in any longer. Not even Meredith could help her this time.
Cristina Operates on Derek
Season 6, Episode 24
In what was probably the best season finale of the series to date (and one of the best in TV history), a man whose wife was a patient of Derek’s comes in looking to kill him for “killing” his wife and shoots anyone that’s in his way. Long story short, Derek gets shot, Cristina is secretly operating on him and she has to pretend to kill Derek right in front of Meredith in order to get the shooter out of the OR. Oh and then Owen gets shot trying to protect Meredith. Woof.
Cristina Has a Meltdown During Surgery
Season 7, Episode 2
After the traumatic experience of operating on her best friend’s husband with a shooter on the loose, Cristina (understandably) gets a stress disorder and can barely perform in the operating room or anywhere else for that matter. Sandra Oh being in shock is something you just can’t take your eyes off of.
Cristina Lets It Go
Season 7, Episode 10
At this point, Cristina has essentially quit being a doctor and even took up bartending to spend her days, because the stress of being back in the hospital and in fear is too much. But Derek takes her on a fishing trip and in one glorious moment, everything changes. The realization that she doesn’t have to live in fear anymore is brilliantly executed by Sandra, and it’s like we all breathed a sigh of relief with her too.
Cristina Finds Out She Operated on Henry
Season 8, Episode 10
So Teddy has this patient (Scott Foley aka Jake on Scandal) who she befriends and eventually marries so he can use her health insurance and undergo operations to treat some rare disease. But eventually it catches up to him and Teddy calls on Cristina to perform one last big surgery on Henry, but Teddy doesn’t want to tell Cristina who her patient is so she doesn’t feel extra pressure. Unfortunately he doesn’t make it, but Sandra kills (no pun intended) it in this scene.
Cristina’s Shock After The Crash
Season 9, Episode 2
Oh boy, the infamous plane crash of 2013 that left two people dead, one person with no legs, and Cristina, who ends up getting PTSD from the horrible experience of being left in the forest for days. Now it was Owen’s turn to take care of Cristina, and good LORD does Sandra Oh just blow it off the roof in this scene. To be able to play numb must be really hard, but to play it convincingly is even harder.
Cristina and What Could Have Been
Season 10, Episode 17
Much like when producers/writers know it’s going to be the end of the series, it’s always helpful to know if a cast member is leaving well in advance so that they get a proper ending. Unlike Burke/Isaiah Washington who just up and left, everyone knew going into this season that it would be Cristina/Sandra’s last, which let Shonda & co. give her a proper goodbye. This season, there was an entire episode dedicated to Cristina, and what would have happened to her if she just made one different decision. This entire episode highlights not only Cristina as a character but Sandra as an actress, and Shonda knew that. Cristina deserves a proper farewell, and the finale I’m sure will do just that.