10 Best Needle Drops in 'Grey's Anatomy,' Ranked


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Oct 16, 2023

10 Best Needle Drops in 'Grey's Anatomy,' Ranked

It's hard to pick just 10 amazing needle drops across roughly 20 seasons of

It's hard to pick just 10 amazing needle drops across roughly 20 seasons of Grey's Anatomy, but we managed!

A movie or show's soundtrack can work to elevate it and make a moment even more powerful. Music has always been a central part of the long-running medical drama Grey's Anatomy, from episode titles borrowed from song titles and lyrics to its iconic theme song and, above all, its thoughtful use of popular music. Some episodes feature several songs, and each one has a purpose. Over the show's 19 seasons and hundreds of episodes, some have even become hits because of it.

Grey's sometimes turns to the same artists, even the same songs, over and over again, underscoring the emotion of a scene while also calling back to similar memorable moments. From heartbreaking losses to sweet moments between friends and lovers, some moments have become iconic, and fans will undoubtedly always associate certain songs with the show and see them as unofficial anthems.

In the first of a three-part story arc, "Walking on Water," the staff is sent to the site of a mass-casualty ferry accident. As Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) works to save a man on the edge of a dock, he accidentally knocks her in the water.

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"Make This Go On Forever" plays throughout the scene, but its most emotional moment is in the final moments. "Please just save me from this darkness" plays over a shot over the still water, leaving the audience with the worry of what will happen to Meredith.

In the second part of the three-part ferry story arc, the staff scrambling to help the victims as Meredith remains missing. The episode opens with her voiceover as she struggles in the water, and halfway through, she's rescued by Derek (Patrick Dempsey), although her ultimate fate is a mystery until the next episode.

As Meredith is fighting to stay afloat, "A Bitter Song" by Butterfly Boucher plays, the line "I feel better" repeating as she slips underwater. It's a heartbreaking and poignant moment that implies Meredith is dead, although that turns out not to be the case. The song repeats in the final minutes of the episode as her colleagues work to save her, and Derek sits waiting in silence.

"If you love somebody, tell them, even if you’re scared it’ll cause problems or burn your life to the ground," Jackson (Jesse Williams) says, foreshadowing what's to come in the aptly titled "Get Up, Stand Up" in Season 10. During April (Sarah Drew) and Matthew's (Justin Bruening) wedding, Jackson grows more and more uncomfortable before apologizing to his date, interrupting the ceremony, and confessing he still has feelings for April.

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"Total Eclipse of the Heart" is a fitting choice for someone professing their love—especially during a wedding in front of your date. The song is also a perfect one, to sum up Jackson and April's relationship throughout the series.

In the tension-filled "Death and All His Friends," the Season 6 finale, the hospital is in chaos after a shooting carried out by a man upset over his wife's death. As he targets the people he holds responsible, multiple doctors are left fighting for their lives, and in an attempt to isolate the shooter and limit his movements, the hospital's elevators have been turned off.

Among the injured staff is Charles Percy (Robert Baker), who needs surgery if he is to survive. With the elevators shut down, however, it's nearly impossible to carry Percy to an operating room quickly and easily. As "In My Veins" by Andrew Belle plays, Bailey (Chandra Wilson) screams and cries in frustration, then sits with Charles to comfort him as he dies. It's a moving song that highlights the hopeless situation.

On Burke's (Isaiah Washington) and Cristina's (Sandra Oh) wedding day, he leaves her standing at the altar, and as "Keep Breathing" plays, she returns to his apartment to find it empty, signaling that he's left entirely. Cristina desperately tries to take off her tight dress, and Meredith steps in to help and is forced to cut it off of her.

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Michaelson's music has been featured in Grey's Anatomy multiple times, and a cover of "Keep Breathing" was featured in the show's 300th episode. The song is a nod to Cristina being suffocated both figuratively and literally by her dress and the fact that it's not the end for her.

In "Losing My Religion," the Season 2 finale, the hospital holds a prom. Meanwhile, Izzie (Katherine Heigl) accepts Denny's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) proposal, and although it seems he is finally going to be okay, in a shocking, heartbreaking twist, she enters his room and finds him dead of a stroke.

Of all the great songs featured in this episode, "Chasing Cars" stands out. It's also one of many songs that shot up the charts after its appearance on Grey's and was featured on other shows. It also reappeared later in the series, including in Season 7's musical episode, "Song Beneath the Song," and again as Derek died with Meredith by his side.

Cristina got a fitting sendoff in Season 10's finale, "Fear of the Unknown," with a final "dance it out" session with Meredith to Tegan and Sara's "Where Does the Good Go." The episode also includes a lovely, slow cover of A-ha's "Take On Me."

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"Where Does the Good Go" is a fun song, but its fitting lyrics about letting go make it a great way to not just say goodbye to Cristina but also to commemorate her friendship and history with Meredith, her "person." It first appeared early in Season 1.

In a two-part episode, a man comes into the hospital after a fireworks incident, and the staff becomes aware that it hasn't detonated and could go off at any moment — unless someone keeps their hands on it until it's removed and that someone is ultimately Meredith.

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The episode is filled with tension, and it's only heightened by multiple great song choices throughout, including wonderful use of "The World Spins Madly On" by The Weepies. But the one that stands out most is "Breathe (2 AM)" by Anna Nalick, which begins as a stressed Meredith freezes while meanwhile, in another operating room, doctors scramble to save Bailey's husband as he flatlines while she's giving birth to their child in another part of the hospital. The refrain of "just breathe" serves as a literal reminder to all the characters as they face incredibly difficult circumstances.

In the second of the two-part Season 5 finale, Izzie wakes up from surgery to remove a brain tumor, but it quickly becomes apparent that she's having issues with her short-term memory. Meanwhile, a John Doe who was hit by a car is brought to the hospital, and when he spells "007" in Meredith's palm, she realizes that it's George (T. R. Knight).

"Off I Go" begins as Izzie flatlines and the doctors operate on George, reaching its emotional crescendo as the two patients meet in a hospital elevator, implying that both have died, although the Season 6 premiere reveals Izzie survives. The lines "Off I go/Where I fall/Is where I land" play as the heartbreaking realization hits.

"It's a beautiful day to save lives," Derek declares during a montage featuring doctors performing surgeries. The interns have a superstition that surgical deaths occur in clusters of three and seven, and after a day already full of deaths, they’re determined to avoid more.

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"How to Save a Life" fits perfectly in a show about, well, saving lives and has become one of the most iconic songs from Grey's Anatomy. The show's use of the song led to it becoming a Billboard hit, and it was ultimately used multiple times on the show, starting with promos for its third season, as well as the musical episode and the Season 18 finale.

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Grey's Anatomy COLLIDER VIDEO OF THE DAY SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT Ellen Pompeo Patrick Dempsey Jesse Williams Sarah Drew Justin Bruening Robert Baker Chandra Wilson Isaiah Washington Sandra Oh Katherine Heigl Jeffrey Dean Morgan T. R. Knight