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When Dr. Derek Shepherd was killed off of Grey’s Anatomy last spring, his death was shocking, despite the fact that some prescient fans realized it was coming a bit ahead of time. In the time since, there’s been a lot written about Derek’s death and Meredith’s reaction in the time afterward, but there’s one mystery that has never been confirmed. That mystery would be where Cristina, Meredith’s best friend and confidant, was during Meredith’s husband’s funeral. As it turns out, apparently she was there, at least according to Kevin McKidd, who plays Owen on the long-running series.
In a recent interview with TV Line McKidd confirms that popular actress Sandra Oh couldn’t make the appearance work, but that Grey’s Anatomy did try to shoehorn in a shot of what could have been Cristina at the funeral.
Cristina was there. I presume Sandra was busy and unavailable for that episode, which was the only reason why [a body double was used]. That funeral sequence was meant to imply that Cristina was obviously there for Meredith. Her presence was felt.
To further his point, there is that image from the episode featuring the funeral of Meredith standing next to someone of similar height and build and with a similar hairstyle to the one Sandra Oh rocks. You can check that out, below.
While I wouldn’t expect Kevin McKidd to be super in the know about the casting attempts the behind-the-scenes people get up to, we do know that Sandra Oh did not leave the ABC drama with any hard feelings. When she decided to get written off at the end of Season 10, showrunner Shonda Rhimes ultimately opted not to kill her off in a wild manner, as she has with some other characters. Instead, Cristina Yang spent one final afternoon in the hospital before saying goodbye to Meredith, waving to Owen and leaving her board position to Alex. She’s reportedly been working in Zurich in the time since, and it would have been easy enough to write in a throwaway line about Christina not being able to make it.
Instead, it now seems as if Christina was there, and it simply wasn’t made a big deal of, since Sandra Oh couldn’t physically make it to the set. I’d be more upset if the funeral had been such a big deal. But the climax of Season 11 was always Dr. Derek Shepherd’s death, and after it happened, Grey’s Anatomy worked quickly and tirelessly to move on from the death rather than show Meredith’s million stages of grief. In fact, the episode in question, featuring the funeral, also time-hopped nine months into the future by the end. Yang’s barely commented upon appearance would have been a much bigger deal if the funeral episode had been a full episode and not a fleeting moment.
We’re a ways into the future now, and there’s still plenty of opportunities for Sandra Oh to pop back up on the series should she wish to. We'll let you know if that is ever in the cards. In the meantime, Grey’s Anatomy will return to the schedule on Thursday, February 11 at 8 p.m. ET, only on ABC. You can check out when the rest of your favorites are returning with our midseason TV schedule.