Patients and doctors flirting with each other has long been a staple in Grey’s Anatomy, but the latest connection that the medical drama hinted at in Grey’s Anatomy season 19 overturned a tragic trend. Even when patients flirting with doctors didn’t lead to a romantic relationship between the two, or didn’t end tragically as Meredith and Nick’s flirting leading to their relationship years in the future eventually proved, Grey’s Anatomy has multiple examples of love stories starting from innocuous flirting and ending with heartbreaking deaths. Izzie falling for Denny Duquette and quitting her career after his death proved one of the most iconic examples of Grey’s Anatomy’s tragic pattern.
However, Grey’s Anatomy’s latest instance of patient-doctor flirting didn’t follow the same paradigm. Sam Sutton’s arrival at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital due to a base jumping incident had all the markings to prove a difficult medical case but didn’t show straight away its romantic potential. Only once Sam started flirting with Jo, essentially letting her wishes to start dating again be unveiled, did their connection show the potential of turning into a love story. Still, despite their connection being severed, because of Jo and Link’s reciprocal love declaration ahead of Grey’s Anatomy season 20 showing Sam coding, Jo and Sam’s story didn’t follow the same pattern Grey’s Anatomy often employed.
Sam Flirting With Jo Enabled Jo & Link’s Love Declaration in Grey’s Anatomy S19
Jo and Link’s feelings for each other went on unspoken since Grey’s Anatomy season 18 when the two hooked up after Jo’s supportive words led to her sharing that there would be plenty of women who “would love to love” Link. Although Jo told Link that the reason she broke things off with their arrangement was that she started developing feelings for him in Grey’s Anatomy season 18, episode 17, their reciprocal admission of simultaneously having feelings for each other didn’t happen till Grey’s Anatomy season 19 finale. The two tried to protect their friendship to the point of ignoring the signs they both gave that made their love for each other obvious.
However, Sam’s obvious flirting with Jo and Jo’s positive reaction to it made Link jealous, having him taking it out on Jo for wanting to explore her options, when the only reason he didn’t tell her that he loved her was that life kept getting in the way. Without Sam’s flirting, and even his talk with Jo about Link’s protectiveness bordering on jealousy, Jo would have never confronted Link about moving out. Sam and Jo’s flirtatious connection effectively made Jo and Link come clean with their feelings, as without Sam’s flirting, Link would have never openly shared that he loved Jo as he did in Grey’s Anatomy season 19’s ending.
Unlike Jo & Sam, Izzy Loved Denny & Teddy Loved Henry Too
Sam’s connection with Jo and his subsequent death makes their story similar to previous patient-doctor romantic relationships in Grey’s Anatomy. While Jo jumped at the opportunity to share with Link that she loved him too, Izzie fell for Denny when she was already dating Alex in Grey’s Anatomy season 2. Not only was she clearly invested in a possible future with Denny, but she went back on her oath not to do harm to secure Denny a heart, ending up a shadow of herself after he died because of a stroke.
Similarly, despite starting their marriage only on paper so that Henry could have health insurance, Teddy and Henry developed real feelings for each other, leading to Teddy’s unexpected heartbreak when Henry died. While Grey’s Anatomy still hasn’t revealed Jo’s reaction to Sam’s death, it will unlikely compare to Izzie’s unraveling after Denny’s death or Teddy’s profound grief after Henry died. While their romances could have spelled tragedy even before their deaths because of Henry and Denny’s serious illnesses, Izzie and Denny had time to develop feelings for each other, and Teddy and Henry did as well, making their loss even heavier than Jo’s loss of Sam could ever feel.
Jo & Sam Only Liked Each Other, While The Others’ Relationships Actually Grew
Jo’s reaction to Sam’s death could never come close to Izzie’s and Teddy’s. With Sam appearing only in Grey’s Anatomy season 19, episodes 17 to 20, Jo never had time to get too close to Sam. Sam and Jo clearly liked each other and were willing to explore a possible future together, but nothing was set in stone. With Jo jumping at the chance to tell Link she loved him back, it’s clear that even if she had started a tentative relationship with Sam, she had longstanding feelings for Link, making Sam’s death in Grey’s Anatomy a sad development, but not a heart-wrenching tragedy as Denny and Henry’s deaths felt.