Grey’s Anatomy Season 20 Just Brought the Series Full Circle

After nearly two decades, Dr. Miranda Bailey is back to her best role on Grey's Anatomy.

Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) looks over the railing at Grey Sloan
Photo: Anne Marie Fox | ABC

This article contains spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy.

From the moment that we first meet Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) in the series premiere of Grey’s Anatomy, we know that she takes her job incredibly seriously. As the resident in charge of a new batch of interns, she has a huge responsibility to help shape the next generation of surgeons into the best version of themselves. And now, nearly 20 years later, Grey’s Anatomy has brought Bailey back into this teaching role as the head of Grey Sloan’s Residency Program.

Dr. Bailey has come a long way since we first met her almost two decades ago. She’s gone from shaping surgeons like Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) into the best in their fields to becoming Chief of Surgery at Grey Sloan to winning the prestigious Catherine Fox award for her work in reproductive health care.

Grey Sloan’s teaching program still hasn’t recovered from how much the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the healthcare system, and the program was even shut down in season 18 before being revived six months later under Meredith’s leadership as interim Chief of Surgery in season 19. The stress of keeping the Residency Program afloat while it was under investigation is why Bailey quit her job as Chief and left Grey Sloan to pursue her reproductive healthcare project with Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh).

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While there may be some who see this career change as a step back for Dr. Bailey or simply as pandering to fans’ nostalgia for the early days of the show, there’s really no one else who could bring Grey Sloan’s Residency Program back from the brink.

According to season 20 showrunner Meg Marinis, “Bailey is the teacher of all teachers. She’s created surgeons like Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang and Alex Karev and Izzie and George. She doesn’t get the credit that she deserves for all of the teaching and mentorship that she’s done, which has sent all these surgeons out to do amazing things.”

The Residency Program may have fallen while she was Chief, but it wasn’t her fault by any means. She was under an unhealthy amount of stress trying to get things back to normal after a global health crisis left her and other healthcare professionals physically and mentally tapped out. Even after she quit, she couldn’t help but use her skills and knowledge to teach doctors throughout the country how to perform life saving reproductive healthcare in increasingly hostile environments.

Dr. Bailey has been through a lot, as many of Grey Sloan’s surgeons have, but her commitment to shaping the future of medicine has remained a constant throughout the series. She may have gained an unsavory nickname from interns for her no-nonsense attitude, but she’s proven time and time again that she’s hard on those she teaches because she cares. About them, and the patients they care for.

Bailey is really the only one who could shape the current class of interns into the best surgeons they can be, and get them out of the mess they made for themselves last season. Marinis says that this season’s theme is “back to basics,” which makes this full circle moment even more special. Who else but the original teacher of Grey Sloan’s top surgeons could bring these interns back in line and restore the program to its former glory?