What Happens to Grey’s Anatomy Without Cristina?

123017_0048 Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC

Grey's Anatomy has gone through many eras. It was the hit show there for a little while. Then it was the show with so much on-set drama. Then it was the show that Katherine Heigl left. Then, for a little while, it was really not good. Then a ton of people died. Then later another ton of people died. Then it was the show that was still on. Then it was the show that paved the way for Scandal. Ebbs and flows. Exits and entries. Sunrise, sunset. But now Grey's is entering yet another era, and it's the one I'm the most trepidatious about: The Post-Cristina Era.

Certainly Grey's has said good-bye to important characters before. A shitload of them, really: Burke, Izzie, George, Teddy, Lexie, Hahn, Addison, Sloan, Reed, Charles, Sadie, Brooks. I watched some of those characters die awful, violent deaths. Cristina, however, was integral to the series in a way these other people were not, and unlike Teddy, for example, there were still plenty of Cristina stories to be told. I was not tired of Cristina Yang.

The Meredith-Cristina friendship is one of the show's defining factors. There are other good, and some better, doctor shows, and other shows have soaring romances, but Meredith and Cristina's friendship is something you cannot find on another show, nor are there any other BFF candidates on Grey's itself. The exploration of that friendship, and its continued primacy in the characters' lives, is one of the things that endeared the series to me in the first place. I liked Meredith and Cristina's ups and downs. I liked the fight they had last season because it felt true and awful; they weren't bickering but rather having the kind of serious blow-out you can have only with people who know your dark personal secrets.

On a story level, I suppose I'm curious about how Meredith copes sans her "person," and I'm onboard for her attempts to be better friends with the remaining doctors. If your best friend leaves town, suddenly there's more pressure on your romantic partner to be everything for you — and Meredith and Derek are already in a sort of precarious place. I hope Meredith hangs out with Callie more, because Callie needs more story lines and Meredith is the star of the show. If Meredith and Alex start bonding more, that would be okay, too (they go way back, after all), and one can only assume that the Chief will remind people that they have big shoes to fill in the surgery department in Yang's absence.

Eleven seasons is a lot of seasons. Grey's has weathered a lot of storms and come out in surprisingly decent shape on the other side. But Cristina Yang is the best! She was the best character on this show (the only other acceptable answer is Bailey), and one of the better characters on TV, period, and Grey's has a huge deficit to make up without her.