Every Magical TV Moment Shonda Rhimes Has Given Us Over the Years

In honor of Shonda Rhimes' birthday on Jan. 13, a celebration of all the magic she's brought into our lives from Grey's Anatomy all the way to Bridgerton.

By Billy Nilles Jan 14, 2021 2:00 AMTags
Watch: "Bridgerton" Stars Praise Shonda Rhimes & Dish on Series

There's no place on TV quite like Shondaland.

Ever since Shonda Rhimes first invited viewers into her amusement park of wonders with the premiere of Grey's Anatomy in 2005, she's never failed to make the small screen a more romantic, feminist and inclusive place. As her eponymous production company has expanded to include zeitgeist-y series like Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Station 19 and, most recently, Bridgerton on Netflix, she's kept us well fed, showing us just how McDreamy the world can be.

And while she's only just getting started with her second act over at the streaming service that lured her away from ABC, she's already more than cemented her legacy as one of TV's greatest creators.

In fact, we can think of no better way to celebrate Rhimes' birthday on Jan. 13 than with a look back at some of the most magical moments she's been responsible for over the years.

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We Ranked Shondaland's Best Couples—All 63 Of Them!

As you embark on this trip through Shondaland, please don't forget to remain seated and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. Now sit back, relax and enjoy!

ABC; Getty Images; Netflix; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration
Light House

In season four of Grey's, Mer (Ellen Pompeo) proved herself to be the queen of grand gestures, using candles to create an outline of the house she and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) had always wanted to buy. And just like that, their separation was over. (Sorry, Nurse Rose!)

Parla Italiano?

Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) thought he was being slick, revealing his feelings about Meredith Grey in his native Italian as the two shared an elevator. Little did he know Mer was even slicker, answering him right back in the language. And just like that, a new ship was born.

A Show of Solidarity

In a season 15 episode of Grey's Anatomy, a rape survivor (guest star Khalilah Joi) was left speechless after women from all over Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital (played by nearly the show's entire female staff) lined the hallway as she was wheeled to surgery in a staggering moment of support. We were left speechless too.

Enter McSteamy

Has there been a sexier moment with a character than Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) and his strategically placed towel in season three of Grey's? We think not.

Sister, Sister

In a moment of transition for both Mer and the show, she introduced her and Cristina's habit of "dancing it out" to newly discovered half-sister Maggie and sister-in-law Amelia, cementing a modern and matriarchal family unit that's come to define Grey's' current era.

A Sad Goodbye

In the second season of Grey's spinoff Station 19, Vic's (Barrett Doss) brief engagement to Chief Ripley (Brett Tucker) came to a tragic end as he succumbed to hydrofluoric acid poisoning. But there was beauty in the moment as the young firefighter stayed by his side until his last breath.

What Happens at Night

Watching Simon (Regé-Jean Page) teach Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) about masturbation in the third episode of Bridgerton—followed by her successful attempt of trying her hand at it, fantasizing about the Duke—was a damn delight.

Coliver Begins

When How to Get Away With Murder premiered on ABC in 2014, the series—created by Pete Nowalk under the Shondaland banner—proved that it was going to be more queer-affirming than anything broadcast TV had ever seen. We're talking about, of course, the first hookup between Connor (Jack Falahee) and Oliver (Conrad Ricamora), which culminated in the former instructing the latter to turn onto his stomach. As he did, Connor began kissing down Oliver's arched back until he was out of frame and all that we heard were Oliver's moans of pleasure. 

Daphne Defends Herself

Is there anything more badass than watching Daphne take a swing at Nigel as the creep is practically asking for it in the first episode of Bridgerton, proving that she didn't need Simon to come to her defense? We think not. (Though it was lovely that he was ready to defend her honor anyway.)

Viola Bares All

In the fourth episode of HTGAWM, star Viola Davis delivered a scene that floored us all. We watched as Annalise Keating, preparing to confront her cheating husband Sam as to why his penis was on a dead girl's phone, sat down in front of her mirror and removed her wig, false eyelashes and makeup. The moment, which sparked a conversation surrounding beauty expectations made of Black women, was suggested by Davis herself. 

Care for Some Jam?

Olivia's (Kerry Washington) relationship with Fitz on Scandal always bordered a bit on the toxic side. But who among us didn't swoon when he whisked her away to Vermont to show her the house he'd built for her and their future children. "I wanted you to see the dream," he told her. And just like that, a million fantasies about making jam with Tony Goldwyn were born.

Simon's Big Speech

In the fifth episode of Bridgerton's first season, Simon finally makes his feelings towards Daphne clear as he pleads with the Queen (Golda Rosheuvel) to allow them to marry. And boy, was that speech a doozy. "I have never been a man that much enjoyed flirting, or chatting, or indeed talking at all, but with Daphne, Miss Bridgerton, conversation has always been easy," he said. "Her laughter brings me joy. To meet a beautiful woman is one thing, but to meet your best friend in the most beautiful of women is something entirely apart, and it is with my sincerest apologies I must say it took the prince coming along for me to realize I did not want Miss Bridgerton to only be my friend. I wanted her to be my wife. I want her to be my wife, and so I plead with you not to make us wait."

"Save Me"

Olivia's life was full of toxic love on Scandal. Case in point? Her other main suitor, Jake—an assassin played by Scott Foley—asking her to run away with him. While the pressure to rescue him from his dark life was a bit unfair to put on poor Liv, there was something kind of hot about watching him beg her to save him, right? Just us?

Izzie's Speech

Watching Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) take back her power in season one of Grey's after the other interns learn about the modeling she'd done to pay her way through med school had us pumping our feminist fists in the air. "Gather around and check out the booty that put Izzie Stevens through med school," she told the locker room. "You wanna call me Dr. Model? That's fine. But just remember that while you're still sitting on 200 grand in student loans, I'm out of debt." Mic drop.

Papa Don't Preach

When Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) became Grey's first queer character, we watched her embrace her bisexuality amid attempts by her father (played by Hector Elizondo) to "fix" her. The moment she finally stood up to him was a true catharsis. "Jesus is my savior daddy, not you, and Jesus would be ashamed of you for turning your back on me," she told her dad. "He would be ashamed." 

Getting Physical

From their secret hand-holding to their first kiss, the consummation of their marriage on their wedding night to their frisky honeymoon activities, each new moment of physicality between Daphne and Simon in Bridgerton's first season had us swooning all over again.

Japril Runs Away

They may not have been endgame, to the dismay of vocal fans everywhere, but when Jackson (Jesse Williams) showed up at April's (Sarah Drew) wedding to another man in season 10 of Grey's to steal her away, it was romantic and wild and not without its consequences. So, quintessential Shondaland.

Mer's Big Moment

To celebrate 300 episodes of Grey's, the writers celebrated Meredith in a big way, reminding fans that she's a kick-ass doctor first and foremost by honoring her with the coveted Harper Avery Award. Watching the staff celebrate Mer was a gorgeous illustration of the family she'd built alongside her career.

The Plain Truth

Was Olivia Pope's mother Maya (Khandi Alexander) a terrorist? Sure. Did that make her speech in Scandal's penultimate episode about the realities of being a Black woman in America any less impactful? It sure did not. "I tell you… Being a Black woman," she says. "'Be strong,' they say. 'Support your men. Raise a man. Think like a man.' Well, damn. I gotta do all that? Who's out here working for me? Carrying my burden? Building me up when I get down? Nobody. Black women out here trying to save everybody. We still try. Try to help all y'all, even when we get nothing."

Slut-Shamers Beware

In a season two episode of Grey's, Mer let Derek know that she would not abide his blatant sexism in the wake of their breakup following Addison's return. "You don't get to call me a whore," she told him. "When I met you, I thought I had found the person that I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I was done. So all the boys, and all the bars, and all the obvious daddy issues, who cared? Because I was done. You left me. You chose Addison. I'm all glued back together now. I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what you broke. You don't get to call me a whore." Amen.

A Reminder

There's a reason Meredith called Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) her person. And it's because of speeches like the one Cristina delivered to her BFF as Oh left Grey's in season 10. "You are a gifted surgeon with an extraordinary mind. Don't let what he wants eclipse what you need," she told Mer, referring to Derek. "He's very dreamy, but he is not the sun. You are."

The Speech

Mer's words to Derek in a season two episode of Grey's are Shondaland speechifying at its very best. "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," she told him. "So pick me, choose me, love me."

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