Shonda Rhimes is known for a lot of things. She’s the woman behind some of television’s most shocking twists. She’s an expert at season finales. And perhaps more than anything, she — and her writers — knows what it takes to make a speech go from good to great. Specifically, nobody knows how to say “I love you” like she does. This is the woman who invented McDreamy, after all.
And with last week’s Cristina-Burke reunion on Grey’s Anatomy, we were reminded of just how great those love confessions could be. So in honor of that moment and all the ones we’ve yet to experience, we’ve ranked ShondaLand’s 20 most romantic speeches from Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. (Sorry, Private Practice fans. This list is current shows only.) Enjoy:
20. Alex’s vows
Alex and Izzie’s last-minute wedding was the definition of romantic, and Alex’s vows represented a big moment for that character. He was coming into his own as a man, and as his vows said, he was becoming accountable to someone else. It was an epic speech in terms of the writing, but it’s low on our list because of two factors: Let’s face it, the speech was a bit more about Alex than it was about Alex and Izzie. And secondly, he totally stole it from a patient. Then again, if the speech were this great, I’d probably steal it too:
19. Jackson interrupts April’s Wedding
The best part of Jackson’s confession of love at April’s wedding wasn’t even the things he said, but the fact that he stood up, sat down, and then stood up again, because there was no way he could not try to get her back. And his line about loving even the things he doesn’t like? Let’s just say April made the right choice.
18. “I’m saying you could have a husband”
Mark freakin’ Sloan, ladies and gents. When he went up to Lexie and told her he was still in love with her, my knees grew weak. And Grey’s fans know what a big deal it was for Mark to utter the words “I don’t want to sleep around.” He was in love with Lexie Grey:
17. “You’re my heaven”
This moment itself wasn’t all that romantic, because Izzie was discovering that she was sick. But I will never forget the second Denny told her, “You’re my heaven.” Really, Shonda?! You’re killing me:
16. “Save me”
Jake’s original proposal that he and Liv run away was so unexpected. Jake was willing to give up everything and start over with Liv. And there was just something so raw and powerful about hearing such a rugged man ask Liv to save him.
15. Derek’s proposal
Derek’s proposal was not your stereotypical scenario. Instead, he combined everything that defined his relationship with Meredith and put it in one place, from the elevator to their surgeries. He tailored it all to her. The cherry on top? He took her greatest flaw — being dark and twisty — and made it her greatest strength. And no, he didn’t ask her to marry him. He told her simply, “I love you Meredith Grey, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Newsflash: Confidence is sexy!
It wasn’t just that Fitz had built a house for Olivia and their future children, but it was he took her to it because “I wanted you to see the dream.” His dream, his perfect world, was making jam with her.
13. Lexie’s death
I can’t watch this moment without crying. Mark finally confessed his love for Lexie, telling her about the life they’d have.”We’re gonna have the best life, Lexie. You and me, we’re gonna be so happy.” The kicker: “We’re supposed to end up together. We’re meant to be.” I just can’t.
12. “You see me”
To say that Owen was in a dark place at the start of his relationship with Cristina would be an understatement. But she was the one who pulled him through, and this speech said it all. “The only time I don’t feel like a ghost is when you look at me.”
11. “The way I loved you was consuming”
The speech that inspired this entire post ranks just outside our top 10. Burke telling Cristina that they couldn’t work together because it would ruin his marriage was such an honest moment. “Eventually, you’ll hold the carrot and I’ll be chasing you,” he told her. Being reminded of what they had was, well, consuming.
10. “What about me?”
A lot of the power of this moment comes from the performances, but just as a whole, this will always be one of the most memorable Grey’s moments. Izzie asking Denny, “What about me when you go into the light?” was absolutely devastating. And of course, this is where she told him that if he died, she’d “never be able to forgive you for making me love you.”
9. “I’ve been in love with you forever”
He’s called McDreamy for a reason, people, and this speech exemplified why. After stumbling over his words and looking at Meredith like every woman dreams of being looked at, he told her, “I’m in love with you. I’ve been in love with you forever.” But the real moment was when he admitted that he’d been wrong when he’d chosen to stay with his wife the season before. “Take all the time you need, because you have a choice to make, and when I had a choice to make, I chose wrong.”
8. “We’re worth another chance”
There’s nothing sexier than a man who is sure about something, and Fitz was sure that he and Olivia deserved another chance when he went to visit her in the hospital. “I am nothing, and you are everything,” he told her.
7. Burke’s first “I love you”
The amazing Preston Burke fell for a “slovenly angry intern,” and even he couldn’t believe it. But he also couldn’t help himself. I love how this speech shows how well he knows her, and basically, despite everything, still loves her.
6. “You almost died today”
There is no “I love you” in this speech, but what there is is somehow better. After Meredith almost died during the infamous bomb episode of Grey’s, Derek showed up just to see her, because as he put it, she “almost died today.” But when she told him that she almost died without being able to remember their last kiss, he recited every detail in a speech that most women couldn’t even dream up. Thank you for this, Shonda.
5. Infected by Mark Sloan
Not long before her death, Lexie Grey finally told Mark that she still loved him, but mostly because she couldn’t physically keep it in. This speech was so very Lexie, but also so genuine. I think the look on his face says it all.
4. “Watch me earn you”
Actions speak louder than words, but in this case, I’d say they’re about even. With Mellie about to out Fitz’s affair, the POTUS showed up at Olivia’s apartment to run out the clock on his marriage with the woman he loved. She was going to watch him choose her over the presidency. She was going to watch him earn her.
3. Burke’s wedding vows
They started off a little sketchy — he’s not hopeful? — but they ended perfectly. Burke was sure. He was sure Cristina was the one, and as a heart man, he was ready to give his to her, completely.
2. “I exist for you”
This speech includes every epic love confession women dream of … all in one speech. “I love you. I’m in love with you. You’re the love of my life.” And this gem: “My every feeling is controlled by the look on your face.” This scene will always be known as one of the greatest romantic moments for Rhimes and for television as a whole.
1. “Pick me, choose me, love me”
All I’m going to say is, “I love you, in a really really big, pretend to like your taste in music, let you eat the last piece of cheesecake, hold a radio over my head outside your window unfortunate way that makes me hate you, love you.” Shonda Rhimes at her best.
And, I have to give an honorary mention to the love confession that didn’t make the list because there are no words involved. Then again, that’s what makes Liv and Fitz’s “one minute” so great. So, what is your favorite ShondaLand love speech of all time?