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Grey's Anatomy (season 3)
DVD cover art for the third season of
Grey's Anatomy
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 25
Original network American Broadcasting Company
Original release September 21, 2006 (2006-09-21) – May 17, 2007 (2007-05-17)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 2
Next →
Season 4
List of Grey's Anatomy episodes

The third season of the American television medical drama Grey's Anatomy, commenced airing on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) on September 21, 2006, and concluded on May 17, 2007. The season was produced by Touchstone Television, in association with Shondaland Production Company and The Mark Gordon Company, the showrunner being Shonda Rhimes. Actors Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, Justin Chambers and T.R. Knight reprised their roles as surgical interns Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, Izzie Stevens, Alex Karev and George O'Malley, respectively, continuing their expansive storylines as focal points throughout the season. Previous main cast members Chandra Wilson, James Pickens, Jr., Kate Walsh, Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey also returned, while previous guest stars Sara Ramírez and Eric Dane were promoted to series regulars, following the extension of their contracts.

The season followed the continuation of the surgical residency of five young interns, as they experience the demands of the competitive field of medicine, which becomes defining in their personal evolution. Although set in fictional Seattle Grace Hospital, located in Seattle, Washington, filming primarily occurred in Los Angeles, California. Whereas the first season mainly focused on the impact the surgical field has on the main characters, and the second one provided a detailed perspective on the physicians' private lives, the third season deals with the tough challenges brought by the last phase of the surgeons' internship, combining the professional motif emphasized in the first season, with the complex personal background used in the second. Through the season, several new storylines are developed, including the arrival of Dane's character, Dr. Mark Sloan, conceived and introduced as an antagonizing presence.

In a departure from the previous season, the third season aired in a new competitive time slot of 9:00 pm on Thursdays, competing against the heavily promoted and highly rated dramatic television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which simultaneously aired on the CBS Network. Season three of Grey's Anatomy contained 25 episodes, in addition to two clip shows that were produced to recap the previous events of the show, before the introduction of major new arcs. "Complications of the Heart" aired on the same night as the season premiere, recapping the last episodes of the second season with insights into future episodes in the third, while "Every Moment Counts" aired before the twentieth episode. The season also aired a two-part episode arc, which primarily served as a backdoor pilot for a proposed spin-off, Private Practice, focusing on the departure of Walsh's character, Dr. Addison Montgomery.

The series ended its third season with an average of 19.22 million viewers per episode and a 6.8/35 Nielsen rating/share in the 18–49 demographic, ranking eighth in the television season, outperformed by CSI. Television critics expressed a mainly negative outlook on the development of the series throughout the season, with the reviews ranging from mixed to unfavorable, as exaggeration and lack of realism have been highlighted as the main issues in the declining quality of the storylines. Despite the negative critical response, the performance of the cast members and the production technique of the crew received outstanding recognition through numerous awards and nominations. Earning major category nominations at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards and the 65th Golden Globe Awards, the season achieved the series' highest number of recipients, with Heigl being the most awarded cast member. The series was ranked sixth in USA Today's "best of television" list, following the conclusion of the season.


No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.S. viewers
37 1 "Time Has Come Today" Dan Minahan Shonda Rhimes September 21, 2006 (2006-09-21) 25.41[4]
38 2 "I Am a Tree" Jeff Melman Krista Vernoff September 28, 2006 (2006-09-28) 23.48[5]
39 3 "Sometimes a Fantasy" Adam Arkin Debora Cahn October 5, 2006 (2006-10-05) 22.80[6]
40 4 "What I Am" Dan Lerner Allan Heinberg October 12, 2006 (2006-10-12) 22.88[7]
41 5 "Oh, the Guilt" Jeff Melman Zoanne Clack and Tony Phelan & Joan Rater October 19, 2006 (2006-10-19) 22.05[8]
42 6 "Let the Angels Commit" Jessica Yu Stacy McKee November 2, 2006 (2006-11-02) 21.02[9]
43 7 "Where the Boys Are" Dan Minahan Mark Wilding November 9, 2006 (2006-11-09) 20.65[10]
44 8 "Staring at the Sun" Jeff Melman Gabrielle Stanton & Harry Werksman, Jr. November 16, 2006 (2006-11-16) 20.92[11]
45 9 "From a Whisper to a Scream" Julie Anne Robinson Kip Koenig November 23, 2006 (2006-11-23) 18.51[12]
46 10 "Don't Stand So Close to Me" Seith Mann Carolina Paiz November 30, 2006 (2006-11-30) 24.01[13]
47 11 "Six Days (Part 1)" Greg Yaitanes Krista Vernoff January 11, 2007 (2007-01-11) 23.03[14]
48 12 "Six Days (Part 2)" Greg Yaitanes Krista Vernoff January 18, 2007 (2007-01-18) 21.94[15]
49 13 "Great Expectations" Michael Grossman Eric Buchman January 25, 2007 (2007-01-25) 21.50[16]
50 14 "Wishin' and Hopin'" Julie Anne Robinson Tony Phelan & Joan Rater February 1, 2007 (2007-02-01) 24.18[17]
51 15 "Walk on Water" Rob Corn Shonda Rhimes February 8, 2007 (2007-02-08) 25.20[18]
52 16 "Drowning on Dry Land" Rob Corn Shonda Rhimes February 15, 2007 (2007-02-15) 25.76[19]
53 17 "Some Kind of Miracle" Adam Arkin Shonda Rhimes & Marti Noxon February 22, 2007 (2007-02-22) 27.39[20]
54 18 "Scars and Souvenirs" James Frawley Debora Cahn March 15, 2007 (2007-03-15) 22.68[21]
55 19 "My Favorite Mistake" Tamra Davis Chris Van Dusen March 22, 2007 (2007-03-22) 22.30[22]
56 20 "Time After Time" Christopher Misiano Stacy McKee April 19, 2007 (2007-04-19) 21.12[23]
57 21 "Desire" Tom Verica Mark Wilding April 26, 2007 (2007-04-26) 20.08[24]
58 22 "The Other Side of This Life (Part 1)" Michael Grossman Shonda Rhimes May 3, 2007 (2007-05-03) 21.23[25]
59 23 "The Other Side of This Life (Part 2)" Michael Grossman Shonda Rhimes May 3, 2007 (2007-05-03) 21.23[25]
60 24 "Testing 1-2-3" Christopher Misiano Allan Heinberg May 10, 2007 (2007-05-10) 19.58[26]
61 25 "Didn't We Almost Have It All?" Rob Corn Tony Phelan & Joan Rater May 17, 2007 (2007-05-17) 22.57[27]



This season is the last to be produced by ABC Studios under title of Touchstone Television, as the company's decision to change its name ocurred after the conclusion of the season.[28] Shonda Rhimes returned as the series' showrunner and executive producer. She also continued her position from the first two seasons as one of the most prominent members of the writing staff. Betsy Beers, Mark Gordon and Rob Corn also returned as executive producers, along with Mark Wilding, Peter Horton and Krista Vernoff, who have been in this position since the inception of the series. Allan Heinberg, however, joins the production team at the beginning of the third season as a co-executive producer, before his promotion to an executive.[29] Kent Hodder, Nancy Bordson and Steve Mulholland served as executive producers for four episodes during the season. Horton left the series at the conclusion of the season, whereas James D. Parriott, who previously served a writer and executive producer for the first two seasons, did not continue his work on the show during this season. Joan Rater and Tony Phelan continued to serve as co-executive producers, with Rater being a supervising producer as well. Stacy McKee, who previously served as a producer and writer for the series, was promoted to co-executive producer.

After having written three episodes for the first season and five for the second, Rhimes returned as a writer for six episodes, out of which one was written along with Marti Noxon. Krista Vernoff, Tony Phelan, Stacy McKee and Mark Wilding returned to the series as members of the writing staff, with Vernoff and Phelan writing three episodes and McKee and Wilding producing the script of two episodes. Gabrielle Stanton and Harry Werksman, Jr. worked together for the writing of one episode, after three episodes they have written for the series in the past. The season includes the first episode to be written by Debora Cahn, who would become one of the series' main writers, as well as a consulting and supervisor producer. Other writers include Kip Koenig, Carolina Paiz, Eric Buchman, Joan Rater and Chris Van Dusen. Rob Corn returned to the series to direct three episodes for the season, after writing two episodes in the second season. Greg Yaitanes is credited for directing two episodes during the season, the only ones to have been directed by him in the series. Other prominent directors were Jeff Melman, Michael Grossman, Julie Anne Robinson and Adam Arkin, each directing two or more episodes during the season. Danny Lux continued his position as the main music composer for the series, while Herbert Davis and Walt Fraser served as the season's cinematography directors. Susan Vaill and Edward Ornelas resumed their positions as editors, seeing David Greenspan, Matthew Ramsey and Avi Fisher being added to the team. Fisher, however, left the series at the conclusion of the season.[29]


Despite being originally contracted to appear in only three episodes, Elizabeth Reaser's recurring character was given one of the most expansive arcs in the show's history.

The third season had twelve roles receiving star billing, with ten of them returning from the previous season, out of whom nine were part of the original cast. All the main characters are physicians in the surgical wing of the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital. Ellen Pompeo portrayed Meredith Grey, both the protagonist and the narrator of the series, whose main goal in achieving a balance between the difficulties of the internship, and the complicated relationships in her private life.[30] Sandra Oh portrayed Cristina Yang, who quickly develops into Meredith's best friend, despite the continuous competition against the other interns.[30] Katherine Heigl portrayed intern Isobel "Izzie" Stevens, mourning the death of her fiancé as she unexpectedly decides to quit her job after the realization that her personal involvement in each patient's case is not accepted in medicine. Justin Chambers acted as Alexander "Alex" Karev, whose arrogant attitude develops into a more emotional and sensitive outlook on his career and relationships.[30] T.R. Knight played the role of intern George O'Malley, who gradually becomes more self-confident after his feelings for Meredith diminish. Chandra Wilson portrayed fifth-year resident in general surgery, Miranda Bailey, the resident in charge of the five interns.[30]

James Pickens, Jr. acted as Seattle Grace Hospital's Chief of Surgery, Richard Webber, who has to deal with the choice between his career and his marriage.[30] Kate Walsh played Addison Montgomery, obstetrician-gynecologist and neonatal surgeon, who comes to terms with her husband's desire to divorce, while dealing with the arrival of her former lover. Isaiah Washington played the role of attending physician and cardiothoracic surgeon, Preston Burke, whose long-term relationship with intern Cristina Yang leads to their engagement. Patrick Dempsey portrayed attending neurosurgeon Derek Shepherd, whose relationship with intern Meredith Grey has been the focal point of the series since its inception.[30] Sara Ramírez began receiving star billing in the season premiere, after numerous appearances during the last episodes of the second season.[31] She portrayed orthopedic surgeon and fifth-year resident, Calliope "Callie" Torres, whose relationship with intern George O'Malley evolves into a sudden marriage with unpleasant repercussions. Eric Dane was also promoted to the series regular status after a guest appearance in the eighteenth episode of the previous season, and an uncredited one in the second episode of this season.[31] He began receiving star billing in the third episode of the season, portraying attending physician, otolaryngologist and plastic surgeon Mark Sloan, whose arc, describing the attempt at resuming his relationship with Addison Montgomery, is heavily developed. Numerous supporting characters have been given expansive and recurring appearances in the progressive storyline. Brooke Smith continues her role as cardiothoracic surgeon Erica Hahn, whose storylines include the rivalry with Preston Burke, her arrival to perform surgery of George O'Malley's dying father, and Richard Webber's decision to hire her in the hospital. Chyler Leigh portrayed Meredith's half-sister, Lexie Grey, who would eventually enroll in Seattle Grace Hospital's internship program after her mother's sudden death.[30] Kate Burton appeared as Meredith Grey's mother, Ellis Grey, a renowned surgeon suffering from Alzheimer's disease, who ultimately dies following a heart attack. Veterinary physician Finn Dandrige was portrayed by Chris O'Donnell and appeared in the first four episodes of the season to resume the storyline of his romantic relationship with Meredith, previously introduced in the second season. Deceased since the second season finale, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character Dennsion "Denny" Duquette, Jr. appeared in two episodes of the season, during Meredith's limbo sequence.

Elizabeth Reaser portrayed recurring character and love interest for Alex Karev, Rebecca "Ava" Pope, a patient suffering from amnesia after being involved in a massive ferry crash. Loretta Devine acted as Adele Webber, Richard's wife, whose continuous struggle to have a normal marriage culminates in her asking her husband to retire. Other guest stars include Sarah Utterback in the role of nurse Olivia Harper, former love interest of both George O'Malley and Alex Karev, Kali Rocha portraying fifth-year resident Sydney Heron, who enters a competition against Miranda Bailey and Callie Torres for the position of Chief Resident, Roger Rees in the role of Colin Marlowe, a cardiothoracic surgeon and Cristina Yang's former professor and lover, Jeff Perry portraying Meredith Grey's father, Thatcher Grey, Mare Winningham in the role of Susan Grey, Embeth Davidtz playing Derek Shepherd's sister Nancy Shepherd, who is revealed to have slept with Mark Sloan, Tsai Chin in the role of Helen Yang Rubenstein, Cristina's mother, and Diahann Carroll portraying Jane Burke, Preston Burke's over-protective mother.[29] Future Private Practice series regulars Amy Brenneman, Paul Adelstein, Tim Daly, Taye Diggs, Chris Lowell starred in the twenty-second and twenty-third episodes of the season, portraying Violet Turner, Cooper Freedman, Peter Wilder, Sam Bennett and William "Dell" Parker, respectively, in order to make the transition to the proposed spin-off.

Shortly after production for the season commenced, news reports surfaced that Washington had insulted co-star Knight with a homophobic slur. Following the exposure of the argument, Knight publicly disclosed his homosexuality, which led to Washington's issuing an apology statement, regarding his inappropriate use of words during the incident.[32] The controversy later resurfaced when the cast appeared the 65th Golden Globe Awards ceremony, which saw Washington ridiculing homosexuality during an interview, following the statement that denied the occurrence of an on-set incident.[33] After being rebuked by his studio, Touchstone Television, Washington publicly apologized at length for using the epithet in reference to Knight.[34] An issue of People disclosed Washington's presence at executive counseling, which led to an undetermined hiatus of his contract.[35] After the production of the third season concluded, the network decided not to give Washington the possibility of a renewal. In a statement released by his publicist, Washington assesed, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore".[36] In another report, Washington stated he was planning to spend the summer pursuing charity work in Sierra Leone, while working on an independent film.[37]

In a subsequent interview, Washington highlighted the unfairness in his being let go from the series, considering filing a lawsuit as a result.[38] He also accused Knight of using the controversy to bolster his own career and increase his salary on the series.[38] Following his firing, Washington began asserting that racism within the broadcasting media was a primary factor in his dismissal from the series, which drew a critical perspective from Rhimes.[39] During his appearance on Larry King Live, Washington once again denied using a homophobic epithet in reference to Knight, stating that he "blurted it out" in an unrelated context, during the course of an argument provoked by Dempsey, whom he felt was treating him like "somebody who is being weak and afraid to fight back".[40] Deeming his dismissal from the series an "unfortunate" misunderstanding, Washington expressed hope in a cameo appearance request, which has not occurred to date.[41] Washington's image was used in advertisements for a fourth season episode. After it aired, Washington's attorney, Peter Nelson, contacted the network and Screen Actors Guild, citing the promotional material as an unlawful use of the actor's image.[42]

Writing and filming[edit]

A smiling brown-haired woman in a black jacked at a grey shirt.
A smiling blonde woman wearing silver jewelry.
According to the writing staff, both characters portrayed by Ellen Pompeo (above) and Katherine Heigl (below) were central during the third season, contrasting the previous seasons, which presented Meredith Grey as the only protagonist.

The season was primarily filmed in Los Angeles, California. Fisher Plaza, which is the headquarters building for the media company Fisher Communications and Fisher's ABC affiliated KOMO radio and television stations for Seattle, is used for some exterior shots of Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital, such as air ambulances landing on the KOMO Television newscopter's helipad. This puts Seattle Grace conveniently close to the Space Needle, which is directly across the street from Fisher Plaza, the Seattle Monorail, and other local landmarks. However, the hospital used for most other exterior and many interior shots is not in Seattle, are shot at the VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center in North Hills, California.[43] Most scenes are primarily taped in Los Feliz, Los Angeles, at the Prospect Studios, and the set occupies two stages, including the hospital pieces, but some outside scenes are shot at the Warren G. Magnuson Park in Seattle.[44] Several props used are genuine medical supplies, including the MRI machine.[45] The typical costume style for the characters is navy blue scrubs for the attending surgeons and light blue for the residents.[46] The series is filmed with a single-camera setup, as most dramas.[47] The series is often filmed using the "walk and talk" filming technique.[48]

Every installment, typically, commences with a voice-over narrative from Meredith, foreshadowing the theme of the episode.[49] Most installments revolve around the doctors' everyday lives as surgeons, but the show puts a broader coverage on their personal, rather than professional, lives.[49] The series excludes typical hospital ethics, in an attempt to emphasize on character development. Although the physicians save lives, often through intricate surgeries, and strive to rid their patients of discomfort and illness, their preeminent motivation is customarily praise and competition.[50] Once assigned a case, each doctor diagnoses the patient, which usually leads to surgery.[51] The surgeons tend to form personal connections with their patients, with a patient often conveying a message to their doctor, which unintentionally relates to their private life.[52] The show displays the growth of relationships between the doctors, either friendly or sexual, often stemming to a clash between their personal lives and their professional. Emotional scenes are often accompanied by an indie rock background song, something that has become a hallmark of the series.[53] At the conclusion of each episode, Meredith delivers another voice-over, typically contrasting or following up on her initial one.[49]

Season three provided a significant development for Meredith's character, shaping her personality through her romantic relationships, familial background, and professional experiences.[54] Conceived as the focal point of the series, Meredith's romantic relationship with Shepherd continued to be prominent during season three.[54] Initially envisioned as a season-long story arc, Shepherd and Montgomery's divorce and its immediate aftermath was dealt with in the first half the season.[54] Consequently, the writers had Shepherd use his new bachelorhood as a means of reconciliation with Meredith, who had already become romantically linked to Dandridge.[54] According to Rhimes, the story arc was established as a window to Meredith's emotional state, following her process of selection between the two given alternatives.[55] She shaped the narrative so as to provide mild confusion, as she felt that Meredith has "the choice to be healthy and mature and whole".[55] Rhimes rationalized Meredith's struggle with the choice between the two individuals, explaining that it mirrors the connection between morality and sentimentalism, two opposite philosophical concepts.[55] Vernoff, however, based Meredith's story on aspects of the typical female's life, in order for her to be credible.[56]

According to Beers, the writing staff's plan was to emphasize on Meredith's courage and vulnerability, as they targeted to create a visible balance between the two states.[54] Contributing on Meredith's plot continuity, Vernoff also focused on mental confusion as a defining characteristic of the character's personality.[56] Vernoff added to Meredith's character development by expanding her concept to expose the character's confused self into the inclusion of a new narrative line, Meredith's decision to romantically advance her relationships with both Shepherd and Dandridge.[56] Cahn continued the writing of the progressive arc, from where Vernoff's storyline left off.[57] Cahn shaped the character in order to parallel the real life woman, in order to expose Meredith as "optimistic, so idyllically happy about the prospect of dating two men at the same time".[58] However, the character development is redirected when Heinberg introduces to the audience Meredith's problem of identity.[59] Heinberg on emphasized Meredith's uncertain outlook upon herself, as well as on the manner she is perceived by the other characters.[59] Heinberg based the storyline progression for the character on the contrast between her sensitivity and her indecisiveness.[59]

"It's quite interesting for me because my mother died when I was four. So I never had a relationship with my mother. So it's all a very interesting take on it, not at all what I would have imagined. I could never imagine having a difficult relationship with my mother because, you know, that wouldn't be idealistic enough. So I love it. I think it's a great sort of action, it would be boring any other way, to just have a normal. Conflict is interesting. I think it just brings an element of thought."
Ellen Pompeo on portraying her character's mother-daughter storyline[60]

Also part of Meredith's seasonal arc was her dealing with her mother Ellis's mental disease.[54] Their interdependent story arc redirects in the fourteenth episode, which sees Ellis experience a temporary lucidity.[61] Rater, who wrote the episode, disclosed that she got the idea after learning that her husband had to undergo brain surgery.[62] Rater's target was an accurate image of Alzheimer's disease, "how devastating it is to families, how it turns spouses and children into caretakers, how it robs people of their identity."[62] A significant component of Ellis and Meredith's storyline was the three-part ferry boat arc, produced midway through the season.[63] Consisting of three connected episodes, the story arc saw Meredith drowning.[64] Rhimes felt that the plot point had to be written in order for Meredith to evolve. The ferry boat was dealt with as metaphor for Meredith: wanting to exploit the repercussions of Ellis and Meredith's encounter, the writers introduced the ferry boat crash as a means to physicalize Meredith's pain.[63] In the conclusive episode, Meredith enters a state of hypothermia, having a near-death experience, which leads to her visiting what the audience described as the limbo. The episode was reportedly one of the most difficult to produce.[54]

Despite being known mainly for his acting career, Dempsey is also a professional car racer.[65] Beers decided to expand Shepherd's background, by having the character pursue a hobby. Consulting with Rhimes, Beers chose car racing as Shepherd's hobby. However, the element was not included in the script.[54] Shepherd's story arc was redirected, and remodeled so as to center on his issues with Montgomery, "I wanted us to remember that Addison betrayed Derek long before he betrayed her. And that Addison herself is suffering over her choice to have an affair."[66] Targeting the expansion of the story arc, the producers decided to reintroduce Sloan.[56] He made his first appearance in the second episode, receiving star billing since the third. Vernoff was assigned to write the episode that marked Sloan's return. She designed the character with her husband in mind, borrowing his "inappropriate and off-color" personality.[56] Cahn dealt with Sloan using Montgomery's point of view, "She's trying to let him down easy, he just flew across the country to scratch her itch. She's buried her about-to-be-divorcée devastation."[58] Dane's introductory scene in the third season, featuring his character exiting a steamy bathroom naked, became one of the most iconic ones in the series.[54]

"Both Izzie and George are wrong for the sex. It was a mistake, it wasn't part of the plan. George is married, to Callie, who, at the moment, I feel so incredibly sad for. There she is, thinking that she married the perfect husband, the only man who has ever stood up to her father. She's deeply in love with George. But Izzie and George? They've got some intense feelings for each other, those two. It's obvious, it's amazing, but neither has a clue what to do."
— Co-producer and screenwriter Chris Van Dusen on George O'Malley's adultery storyline.[67]

Having also focused on O'Malley's romantic link to Torres, season three saw their relationship evolve into engagement and eventual marriage.[68] Rhimes disclosed that the storyline was shaped through comparison to Meredith and Shepherd's, creating a parallel between the two.[66] Having contributed significantly to the development of the storyline, Cahn attempted to impose to the audience a new perspective on O'Malley, "a man who's so focused on the girl he can't think straight, but not in a good way".[58] The writers decided to deal with the storyline differently, in order to avoid individualization.[54] Thus, the writers emphasized on multiple contrasts between Torres and Stevens, whom they chose as O'Malley's symbols of love and friendship.[59] When the characters temporarily conclude their relationship, Torres has a one-night stand with Sloan.[69] Clack, Phelan and Rater all contributed to the inclusion of the plot point in the progressive season arc.[70] Clack used it to develop the character of O'Malley, rather than Torres.[70] She aimed to challenge the audience to decide whether she was justified for having sex with Sloan.[70] "Callie knows how to work it, but now she's got to work it out, work out the guilt. She may have been trying to hide it, but she's feeling really guilty."[70]

Following his father's death, O'Malley proposes to Torres.[68] Buchman wrote the episode that featured the proposal scene, and assessed that the creative crew "wanted Callie to feel some remorse. She finally got George, but not in the way she wanted. She's gotten his body, but the underlying relationship isn't there anymore."[71] In an attempt to redirect the marriage storyline, the writers had O'Malley engage in an extramarital affair with Stevens, a move they described as "the natural thing to do."[72] Although the episode which revealed the affair to the audience was written by Cahn, the plot point was Rhimes' idea.[72] Cahn, however, gave her own contribution to the storyline, developing the in-story circumstances that determined the new plot point, "Izzie and George, who have shared every minute of the most intense time in their lives, turned to each other in every success and every failure and every breakup and every triumph, with every piece of gossip and every bit of pain, should share everything? Share their hearts and their souls and all their other parts? Right up to the marriage part. That's where it all kind of falls apart."[72] Contributing to the further expansion of the arc, Van Dusen approached the plot point as an irreversible transition from friendship to romance.[67]

Continuing from where season two left off, Burke's hand injury storyline was highly developed in the first half of season three.[73] Rhimes felt that focusing on Yang rather than Burke would be the proper manner to expand the plot, in order for the audience to "either forget about him or pine for his presence."[66] Cahn used the new storyline as a way to expose hidden traits of Yang's personality, like generosity and devotion.[58] Stanton, however, decided to use a different approach: "Cristina and Burke are certainly heading for some kind of showdown. She's helped him get back in the game, but it's pretty obvious that Burke's ego has taken a bit of a beating. That being said, he still does have the tremor and Cristina really is stepping it up in his surgeries. Just how long can these two keep it together? Who's going to crack first?"[74] The ninth episode of the season was aimed to provide significant changes in their ongoing storyline.[75] Koenig, the episode's writer, described that Yang's exhaustion and fear eventually led to the exposure of their secret, and the temporary conclusion of their relationship, "That secret is such a big honking betrayal. The thing is Cristina and Burke know this, and it is killing them. Choice and circumstance got them into this. They became a team and the team piled up victories in surgery after surgery, but the cost outside surgery kept going up. The walls started closing in on Cristina. She may be a part robot but she is also part human. She's betrayed all of them and that eats away at who she really is. All we know is that she beat Burke to it and that breaks Burke's heart."[75]

Alex Karev
Private Practice


Critical response[edit]

Tragedy is not always drama. Sometimes [Shonda Rhimes] has to let her characters smile and allow the grin to stay a while. Reducing everything to tears and hopeless self-loathing isn't good writing. It's desperate craftsmanship. Here's hoping that the show can perform some much-needed self-surgery."
Christopher Monfette
IGN Entertainment

Following two seasons that resulted in heavy critical acclaim, the third season received mixed feedback from television critics, with the acting opening up to favorable reviews, while the writing was negatively responded to. IGN Entertainment television reviewer Cristopher Monfette noted similarities between the arcs that were developed throughout the season and soap operas,

Following a positive outlook on the second season, Christopher Monfette of IGN Entertainment expressed disappointment during the third one, mainly due to the declining quality and lack of realism of the storylines. He noted a growing number of similarities between the season's arcs and the ones that are developed in soap operas, by stating that "the line which separates primetime television from soap opera is oftentimes razor thin" and admitting that, despite his considering the series "the best drama", he freely admits that it requires some inherent suspension of disbelief, after it "found itself mired in the annoying and absurd".[76] Whereas Monfette acknowledged that the fans would consider the problem to have been a simple case of lazy writing, he noted that over-writing played a main role in the series becoming unexpectedly unrealistic. He also noted the senseless intrigues in the Derek/Meredith relationship, by stating that the season would not have achieved high ratings if a functional relationship had been introduced: "The season generally opts to stall out for its vast majority, providing Meredith with some bizarrely under-developed sub-plot about depression and giving Derek a season's worth of reconsidering to do". Monfette criticized the romantic development of the characters throughout the season, by describing Cristina and Burke's relationship as an excuse for the possibility of a wedding for Meredith, whereas Burke's unfair behavior towards Cristina is thought to be manipulative, exposing her to his overly romantic notion of an ideal ceremony. The way the doubts regarding the success of their relationship were resolved in the season finale was described as "most obvious and least compelling."[76] IGN Entertainment was also critical of Alex Karev's storyline, who is seen falling for a pregnant and badly injured Jane Doe, despite having always been "self-obsessed". Monfette once again noted the lack of realism in the improvement of Jane Doe's condition, as she gives birth to her baby and undergoes reconstructive surgery in a short amount of time. However, her incapability and continuous struggle to remember who she is was considered to be "the most affecting and honest plotline of the season", noting the nuanced and emotionally-resonant scenes, which gave the show a "charmingly positive, feel-good foundation". Monfette considered Izzie's affair with George as the season's worst but most significant storyline, criticizing its being "force-red, emotionally incorrect, a mismatch from the beginning and a narrative long-shot", which does not express love, but lust. He agreed that the essential problem of the season was its reluctance to move, leading to frustration after seeing "the entertaining familiar characters so weighed down by their most annoying of traits".[76]

In response to the season premiere, Oscar Dahl of noted the predictability of the series, but expressed hope in its further development, by stating that it has become "a medical chick flick, but a damn good one" with a big and attractive cast. He also praised the interaction between the characters, noting the "smart" dialogue that helps each character evolve. However, Dahl expressed disappointment in the over emotional scenes, describing them as "off-putting" and "not believable", while comparing them to real life interactions between people who emote in a more subtle manner than displayed on television.[77] "Emotions ran high in the premiere and there was much crying", stated Dahl, but noted that the dialogue, who he had previously been worried would be "too cutesy", was not bothering, and rather realistic, noting how the show is "smartly written". He also described the acting of Ellen Pompeo and Katherine Heigl as "worthy of attention".[77]

Prior to the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards, Stuart Levine of Variety reviewed the performances of the three cast members nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actress category. "The ladies of Grey's Anatomy dominate the category, and it'd be far from a stretch to say at least two of those women rose to high dramatics last season", commented Levine, while praising Sandra Oh for her portrayal of Cristina Yang who endured a tumultuous seasoning relationship, seeing her trepidation at spending a life together with the man she loved. He regarded the appearances of Chandra Wilson as more subdued, though "by no means less well-executed".[78] He deemed Miranda Bailey a rock, being the most level-headed character on the show with a right thing to say in any situation. He expressed admiration towards Chandra Wilson, by describing her as being "flashy and over the top", which he considers better than being consistently good. Considering Heigl's chances of winning the Emmy, Levine assessed of her performance, by remarking the slight difficulty she has in reaching each emotional state Izzie Stevens has to go through: "Showrunner Shonda Rhimes puts a lot of pressure on Heigl to carry many intense storylines, and she's up to the challenge." However, he also noted that Izzie's irrational actions during crisis situations may be bothering.[78]

New York Post's Robert Rorke reviewed the numerous characters with heavy romantic development, noting perpetual "merry-go-round of hookups, breakups and makeup sex", while describing the lack of sentimental involvement of Katherine Heigl's character in the first half of the season.[79] However, he deemed Izzie Stevens "the hear and soul" of the "sex-filled series", due to the season mostly focusing on the events that come to define her as a person. Rorke named her the show's heroine, and wrote that "Izzie is a welcome, calming presence, despite the devastation she experienced when she failed to save her patient and fiancé Denny Duquette", considering her to have been more prominent than the title character, Meredith Grey, whose storyline received negative critiques: "She used to be the queen of the romantic dilemmas. But lately, she's been a little dopey, with that endless McDreamy soliloquies." He also noted Meredith's decreasing importance in the ongoing arc, describing how Sandra Oh's character development was vital to the success of the season, as he compared her "cutthroat exterior" with the emotional side of her personality that evolves throughout the season. New York Post compared Izzie, who is described as having achieved a depth, to Miranda Bailey, noting the maturity they have, which is uncharacteristic to the fellow interns. Robert Rorke positively reviewed Chandra Wilson's performance by stating that she was "formidable".

Awards and nominations[edit]

Heigl was awarded at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards, in spite of her mother's doubts.[80]

The season was one of the most acclaimed of the show, receiving numerous awards and nominations. Several cast and crew members were nominated for their work on the show during its third season at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards. Chandra Wilson received a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in "Oh, the Guilt",[81] the season's fifth episode, whereas Sandra Oh was nominated for the same category for her portrayal of Cristina Yang in "From a Whisper to a Scream",[81] the season's ninth episode. However, they both lost to co-star Katherine Heigl,[81] whose portrayal of Izzie Stevens in "Time After Time", the twentieth episode of the season, resulted in her first Emmy win.

T.R. Knight was also nominated for his performance in the third season in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category,[81] for the two-episode arc "Six Days", the eleventh and second episodes of the season. Elizabeth Reaser and Kate Burton were nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, for their performances as Rebecca Pope in "My Favorite Mistake", the nineteenth episode in the season, and Ellis Grey in "Wishin' and Hopin'", the fourteenth episode.[81] Linda Lowy and John Brace were nominated for Outstanding Casting in a Drama Series,[81] while Norman T. Leavitt, Brigitte Bugayong, Thomas R. Burman and Bari Dreiband-Burman were nominated for Best Prosthetic Make-Up.[81] The production team was acclaimed for the Best Drama Series category, but only received a nomination.[81]

Sara Ramírez was nominated at the 2007 Alma Awards for her portrayal of Callie Torres.[82] At the 65th Golden Globe Awards, the series was nominated for Best Television Drama Series,[83] while Katherine Heigl's individual performance resulted in a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.[83] The show's third season was once again recognized at the 38th National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Awards, when the production team was nominated for Best Drama Series. Also at the 2007 ceremony, Isaiah Washington won Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Preston Burke in this season, while Chandra Wilson won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

Several cast members have been awarded at the PRISM Awards in 2007: Katherine Heigl in the Favorite Female TV Star category for portraying Izzie Stevens, Patrick Dempsey for Favorite Male TV Star in the role of Derek Shepherd, and Chandra Wilson in the Favorite Scene Stealing Star category for her performance of Miranda Bailey. Mark Gordon, Shonda Rhimes, James D. Parriott, Betsy Beers, Peter Horton and Rob Corn have been nominated at the Producers Guild of America 2007 Awards for Television Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Drama for the production of the third season, after winning the award at the 2006 Awards for the second season. At the 2007 Satellite Awards, Ellen Pompeo won the award Best Actress in Drama Series, while T.R. Knight was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or TV Film and Chandra Wilson for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or TV Film. At the 14th Screen Actors Guild Awards, the series' regular cast received a nomination for Outstanding Cast in Drama Series. Katherine Heigl and Patrick Dempsey were nominated at the 2007 Teen Choice Awards. Also in 2007, the female cast and crew of Grey's Anatomy received the Women in Film Lucy Award, which honors those whose work in television has positively influenced attitudes toward women.[84]


The second season of Grey's Anatomy ended with an average of 19.440 million viewers per episode and a 6.9 rating share for in the 18–49 demographic, determining the series to finish in the fifth place out of all the 100 television shows in the season.[85] Due to its high ratings, the series received a full third season renewal for the fall prime time line up. In response to numerous fan complaints regarding scheduling during the previous seasons, the American Broadcasting Company decided to do major changes in the season. After two seasons of airing as a lead-out to fellow ABC series Desperate Housewives, the network decided to move Grey's Anatomy to 9:00 ET in the Thursday night time slot, dominated by CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, where the series began airing as a lead-in to Ugly Betty, which aired in the time slot from its first season, until the conclusion of the third in 2009. The show maintained its position as a top ten series and became the eighth most watched program in the season, with an average of 19.220 million viewers per episode.[86] The highest-rated episode of the season was the seventeenth, the highly anticipated conclusion of a three story arc, which was watched by 27.390, receiving a 9.7 rating, a #4 ranking in the week and a #1 ranking in the time slot.[87] The episode outperformed CSI's "Fallen Idols", which ranked seventh with a 7.7 rating and 21.780 million viewers tuning in.[87]

The lowest-rated episode of its ninth, which was watched by 18.510 million viewers, ranking third in the week with a 6.5 rating, outperforming CSI's Thanksgiving special episode, "Living Legend", watched by 17.170 million viewers with a 6.1 rating and #4 ranking.[88] The season premiere was watched by 25.410 million viewers and received 9.0 rating after being ranked #1 in both the time slot and the week. The number of viewers increased significantly compared to the previous season premiere, which was watched by 18.980 million viewers and received a 6.8 rating.[89] "Time Has Come Today" also outperformed the previous season finale, which was watched by 22.500 million viewers and was rated 8.0.[90] The season finale was watched by 25.570 million viewers and received a 8.0 rating, ranking third in the week after American Idol.[91] Wayne Firedman of Media Daily News described the move from the Sunday night time slot to Thursdays as "the network's boldest and biggest move".[92] He also expressed concerns regarding the tough competition the series will face, due to airing against CBS Network's CSI. Stephen McPherson of ABC Entertainment explained the reason for the change: "To have all hits on Sunday night doesn't help us. We wanted to be aggressive".[92]

Home video release[edit]

"This release will appeal to die-hard Grey's fans who want to eat up every morsel of info they can about the show, but for casual fans the set doesn't really offer that much."
– Kelly West, Cinema Blend[93]

The third season was officially released on DVD in region 1 on September 11, 2007, becoming available in both the United States and Canada.[94] It was released two weeks before the fourth season originally began airing.[95] The title of the box set, "Grey's Anatomy: Season Three – Seriously Extended" is a pun, referring to the success the series had, using the medical term "extension". Also in the official title is the world "seriously", who is one frequently used in the series. The box set consists of episodes with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and widescreen format, enhanced for television with a 16:9 aspect ratio.[96] It was distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment.[97] The same set was released in region 4 on October 31, 2007, being made available first in Australia.[98] In region 2, the season was first released in Romania on August 12, 2008, shortly after the season concluded airing on national television. In the United Kingdom, the season was released on September 15, 2008, approximately a year after its original release in the United States. Although the season aired in high definition, it has not been released on Blu-ray disc in any region to date.

The box set includes all the original twenty-five episodes that aired on the American Broadcasting Company, being divided into seven discs.[99] Subtitles are available in French, in Spanish and in English for the hearing impaired, whereas the available languages for the character voices are English, French and Spanish. It featured audio commentaries with cast members Kate Walsh, Chandra Wilson, Ellen Pompeo, Kate Burton and Sandra Oh for the first, fourteenth and twenty-first episodes. It also featured the first, seventh, thirteenth and fourteenth episodes as extended episodes, with a longer running time. The bonus features were available on the seventh disc, including interviews with cast members Patrick Dempsey, Ellen Pompeo and Elizabeth Reaser, listed under the titles of "Making Rounds With Patrick Dempsey", "One on One with Ellen Pompeo" and "Prescription for Success: Making Jane Doe a Star", respectively. The region 1 release featured footage from behind the scenes, under the title of "In Stitches: Season 3 Outtakes" and unaired scenes from nine episodes, including the season premiere and the finale, under the name of "Dissecting Grey's Anatomy".[99] Omnipresent in the bonus material were executive producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers, providing their outlook on characters, actors and the production process.[99]

Currently ranked 2144th in Movies and Television on[97] and 1713th in Film and Television on,[100] the box set received mixed reviews. Kelly West of Cinema Blend noted that the "seriously extended episodes" were not significantly expanded, only adding a few minutes of extra footage, which don't influence the storyline.[93] She also noted a "weakness" in the audio commentary provided by four of the actresses, who she deemed to have been fantastic during the series, describing the features as "random chit-chats". However, she praised Sandra Oh's commentary, noting that she put the most effort in hers by trying to come up with interest topics, while being "amusing and worth listening to". She described the bonus features as "mildly entertaining", emphasizing Dempsey's interview about his passion for racing cars, which she regarded useless.[93] USA Today had a positive perspective on the box set, by calling it "scintillating" and "addictive".[99]



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Category:2006 television seasons Category:2007 television seasons 3 Grey's Anatomy, Season 3