Spoilers ahead for the April 2 episodes of Station 19, called "No Days Off," and Grey's Anatomy, called "Sing It Again."
Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 have been crossing over on a regular basis ever since Station 19 finally returned to ABC for Season 3, starting with a big two-part event. In the weeks since that two-parter in January, the two shows crossed over with such frequency that not all fans are happy, and I for one found myself wondering if ABC was trying to replicate NBC's success with the very closely-connected three shows of One Chicago. Now, after the Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 episodes on April 2, there's something that the ABC shows need to learn from Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D.
First, here's what happened that had me wishing Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 were following One Chicago a little more closely. Station 19's "No Days Off" featured a five-alarm fire pulling the firefighters in from their day off to fight an inferno. The episode closed with Grey's Anatomy's Jackson along for the ride in the PRT with Ben, and the cliffhanger seemed to suggest a battle against a fire that would need even Jackson pitching in on the front lines. If anything, this episode felt like the opener for a two-parter.
Instead, after the final credits rolled on Station 19's "No Days Off" and Grey's Anatomy's "Sing It Again" started, Jackson popped back into Grey Sloan, no worse for the wear and not particularly stressed. While the Station 19 inferno was presumably still blazing, Grey's Anatomy went into a regular episode with Jackson around like regular.
Their timing with each other was distractingly off, and Jackson will be back in the next Station 19 episode, when this particular fire is still blazing but Grey's Anatomy has moved on, so the timing won't be any better in a week. This is where these two ABC shows with their shared universe need to learn something from One Chicago
Although Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D. on NBC Wednesday nights are very different shows despite sharing a universe, a city, and often characters for cameos, there is one way (other than ratings) that the shows remain consistent with each other: the timeline. They don't all have to cover the same cases, and the various shows regularly visit other hospitals, firehouses, and/or precincts if a crossover isn't feasible. The story gets precedent over a crossover, and fans don't have to suspend their disbelief or ignore inconsistencies in the timeline.
Diane Frolov: It depends on how much the character is involved the episode. We always have to check with one another just where those characters are in their own stories. If they're in the hospital, we don't want them running around somewhere or whatever it is. We just have to know what's happening.
Andrew Schneider: We coordinate very closely. We'll speak to either [Chicago Fire showrunner] Derek [Haas] or [Chicago P.D. showrunner] Rick [Eid] and we'll say, let's say we want Voight. Is this a potential episode where we can use him? Does it conflict with anything that you guys are doing?
Diane Frolov: Especially since we're on the same night.
I can't vouch for the process behind when Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 share characters for the mini crossovers, like Jackson on the night of April 2; what I can say is that One Chicago found a way that works. Admittedly, the three Chicago shows are more similar to each other than Station 19 and Grey's Anatomy are, but if Station 19 and Grey's are going to air back-to-back with Grey's episodes often picking up right where Station 19 episodes left off, then something needs to change.
Honestly, Station 19's episode would have been just fine without Jackson on April 2. If Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 want to keep their shared universe running smoothly, then I say that they either need to cut down on nonessential crossovers or go the extra mile to make sure that the timing matches. Crossovers are fun, but they shouldn't create unnecessary discrepancies. One Chicago is a huge ratings success as a shared universe that can air both multi-part and one-off crossovers; there would be no shame in any other shared TV universe following One Chicago's example.
Unfortunately, Grey's Anatomy has only one episode left before the premature Season 16 finale, and only two episodes are left before Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D. end early as well. Tune in to ABC on Thursday, April 9 to see the potentially deadly next episode of Station 19 at 8 p.m. ET and the Season 16 finale of Grey's Anatomy at 9 p.m. ET.