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tear-jerkers

Grey’s Anatomy Needs Better Ways to Kill People

GREY'S ANATOMY - "Going Going Gone" - The doctors of Seattle Grace are faced with the aftermath of last season's plane crash. As they try to move on with their lives, they must learn to adapt to the changes, cope with their losses and move forward with their relationships and careers, on the ninth-season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy," THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/DANNY FELD)ELLEN POMPEO

We're talking about death here, so spoilers, obviously.

Grey's Anatomy has plenty of experience killing off its characters, which is why last night's death episode for Mark Sloan felt like such a rip-off. Denny Duquette got a better farewell. George's dad's death was a sadder episode. George O'Malley, Meredith's stepmother, Meredith's dog, the girl who wanted to "die Amish," Monica Keena's impaled girl back in season two, Charlie dying in Bailey's arms at the end of season six, Henry's death last season — Grey's is good at deaths! Too good! A real gut-punching Grey's death requires way more build up and schmaltz, though, and last night's flashbacks didn't quite pluck the heartstrings they way they were supposed to. Oh, hearing Mark vow that Lexie was his one true love was a bummer, but the home-video conceit seemed like a cover for the fact that Mark's daughter or Addison or his parents didn't show up to say good-bye.

To love Grey's is to love melodrama. And to know Grey's is to know that characters are more likely to die than to marry. But Grey's has used the agonizing vigil around an unresponsive patient before; characters have been taken off life-support; we have watched the numbers on a monitor tick down to zero (beep beep beep beeeeeeeeeeep). Other season premieres had Cristina being impaled by a massive icicle, or a giant sinkhole opening up on the streets of Seattle. Kill off whoever, make us cry for 100 years — but if you're going to slay one of the show's main and beloved characters, can't he at least go out in an original way?

Photo: Danny Feld/ABC