I'm Still Not Over... Denny's death in Grey's Anatomy
Still crying over a fictional character's death from a movie you saw years ago? Grieving a canceled-too-soon show? We are, too. So with "I'm Still Not Over...," EW staffers pay tribute to something in the pop culture world they're, well, still not over. Below, Samantha Highfill mourns the death of Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) on the 15th anniversary of the Grey's Anatomy season 2 finale.
We all saw it coming. From the second Grey's Anatomy introduced Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the charming, handsome patient with a figurative heart of gold and a literal failing heart, we knew he wasn't going to make it. He was the prime candidate for the type of emotional story that Grey's had already mastered in its first two years. He was that week's Bonnie (Monika Keena), a character introduced almost solely to pull at viewers' heartstrings.
And yet, when Denny struck up the world's sweetest romance with Izzie (Katherine Heigl), we hoped and prayed that somehow Grey's Anatomy would find a way to save him.
Denny first arrived roughly halfway through the hit series' second season. Already a beloved patient of Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Dr. Burke (Isaiah Washington), he was at the hospital for a bit of good news: He was finally going to get a much-needed heart transplant. It was there that Denny first laid eyes on Izzie, and it took all of three seconds for him to realize she was what he wanted.
By the end of that first episode, Denny wouldn't get that heart ... but he would steal ours.
Denny then appeared in nine more episodes in season 2 as he slowly but surely took Izzie's attention off of Alex (Justin Chambers). Over countless Scrabble games, the two started dating — at least as much as you could count hanging out in his hospital room as a date — and eventually, they found Denny another heart. By that point, Izzie was head over heels for the guy, which is what led to her making the infamous decision to cut his LVAD wire and secure him the transplant. (Because what about me! What about me when you go into the light!)
In the madness of the LVAD wire experience, Denny proposed. And when Izzie wasn't sure he meant it, he proposed again once he had his new heart. She said yes, and for a second, it seemed like maybe their story could have a happy ending.
Then, in the season 2 finale, as Izzie was on her way to show Denny her prom dress, he threw a clot and he died. Again, we knew it was coming! We really did! And somehow I think that made it hurt worse?!
As if losing Denny isn't bad enough, you then pair the emotion of that loss with the show's most notable music moment — Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" plays as Izzie lies next to his dead body — and you've got a scene that's sure to destroy viewers. I understand that Denny didn't really have a place on that show, especially not once he got all healthy and healed. But I'm not sure I'll ever stop thinking about those dimples.
I know what you're thinking: Haven't 100 people died on Grey's Anatomy? Yes, yes they have. And there are a couple other deaths that haunt me as well. (I love you George!) But Denny? Denny was the first time we lost what felt like a main character, someone we'd gotten to know for more than an episode or two, someone with a major tie to one of Bailey's interns. He was also just a good guy in a crappy situation. He was dealt a bad heart in his life, and sometimes, something as real as that hits harder than any plane crash or crazy explosion.
Fifteen years later, the lesson is simple: Just because we saw it coming doesn't mean it didn't leave a scar.