- "I stayed awake for four days. I remember every single minute of those four days. I went out, it was really, really dark. There were so many stars. I remember getting the bugs out of Arizona's leg. I put leaves on it, trying to keep them out. And Mark, Mark just kept dying, so annoying. I kept trying to help him but he just kept trying to die on me. I just wanted to lie down and sleep on him, cause he was warm. And I wanted to sleep. Meredith was asleep. Everyone was asleep. Arizona got the last of the water, I remember drinking something bad. Might have been the fuel from the plane. I drank my pee. Noises, animal noises, fighting and growling right next to us, right there. I kept waiting for them to come and kill me but they didn't. Then I realized they were fighting over Lexie. I tried to keep them off of her, I tried, but I couldn't get out."
- —Cristina Yang
Cristina Yang is a cardiothoracic surgery fellow at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. She was raised in Beverly Hills, California and is a graduate of Smith College. She earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University of California, Berkeley, and she earned her M.D. from Stanford University, where she graduated first of her class. She did her internship and residency at Seattle Grace Hospital (later Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital). She is best friends with Meredith Grey. She was engaged to Preston Burke, until he left her at the altar. Eventually, she met Owen Hunt, and married him. They divorced in season nine, but later kissed, leading to a post-divorce relationship that lasted until Owen bonded with Ethan Dawson and Cristina realized he needed to be a dad. Cristina was raised Jewish, but only believes in science and is a strong atheist.
Cristina is of Korean descent raised in Judaism (her mother converted upon re-marriage) and a native of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles.
Her mother married Cristina's stepfather, Dr. Saul Rubenstein, an oral surgeon, when Cristina was three. Cristina's biological father died when she was nine years old in a car accident; Cristina watched her father bleed out before help arrived, attempting to close his chest with her hands, to try to stop the bleeding. She claims this is the reason she became a doctor, and could very likely be the motive behind her interest in Cardiothoracic Surgery.
Cristina ended up pregnant after a sexual encounter with Preston Burke. During a surgery with Dr. Burke, she showed signs of pain and discomfort and after a while, she collapsed in the OR. Bailey and Izzie helped her out and Addison finally operated on her. One of her Fallopian tubes had burst and she was bleeding out into the uterus. They couldn't save the baby. Earlier, Cristina didn't seem so attached to the pregnancy, but when her mother came to visit, she cried inconsolably and when Burke came to visit her, they comforted each other.
Having an AbortionEdit
She found out she was pregnant with Owen's baby but did not want a child. When she told Owen she was going to have an abortion, he got very upset because even though he knew Cristina never wanted children, he wanted children. She did not get an abortion at the first appointment because he was threatening a divorce and she did not want to upset him so she waited to talk to him and then got another appointment to have an abortion.
Owen was upset with Cristina and so went out for a drink and met someone. He failed to mention he was married and she said to kiss her. He said he was married but then she kept insisting so he did and went home with her to sleep with her.
In the plane crash, she was not badly hurt other than an arm injury, and helped out when the plane crash victims were in the woods. In the aftermath of the crash, she suffered major psychological problems and shut the entire world out. When the crash victims sued, she got some of the share of the money and then bought the hospital with the rest of the victims.
Relocating to Minnesota Edit
After the crash, she wanted to get away from what happened and from the messy marriage/divorce with Owen. She relocated to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, but when her friend/mentor died while operating, she decided to leave and return to Seattle.
Return to SeattleEdit
After her friend/mentor died in the middle of an operation they were working together on, she decided to return to Seattle to be with Meredith and Owen.
She realized she was getting in the way Owen having a child, so she decided to divorce him so he could find someone who would want that too.
Buying and Owning the HospitalEdit
She did not agree to buying the hospital at first, but once she heard what the company Pegasus was going to do to the hospital and what a hospital run by them was like, she was in to buy it. Once she was on the board of directors, her attending asked for money and she did not like it at all.
Super Storm Edit
During the Super storm, Cristina was worried about Meredith and the baby. Also she refused to operate on anybody after the power went out and didn't want anybody to operate on Meredith either, saying, "Nobody's going to operate in the dark!." She did end up operating on a patient with the help of Richard Webber, who told her she didn't need to see; she needed to feel. Cristina felt the heart and successfully operated, and was full of joy. After this, Cristina told Owen how much joy the surgery gave her and that was the amount of joy being with him gave her. She also told him that he didn't feel that joy with her; he felt it when he was with Ethan and being a father gives him joy. She ultimately chooses to leave him so he can find someone who wants what he wants.
Breaking Up with Owen and Fight with MeredithEdit
Cristina is incredibly focused and driven (even more so than the others) and is always excited about the chance to scrub in on a surgery. Extremely competitive, she is not above stealing and hijacking patients if it means getting in on an exciting surgery. Cristina has excellent surgical skills, and is the intern with the most medical knowledge. However, she has difficulties conveying her feelings and dislikes being touched by anyone, including her mother. She also has a poor bedside manner and finds it hard to empathize with most patients.
Cristina values logic and practical thinking above emotional reasoning, but has undergone several emotional situations since becoming an intern. She has been described as cold, cut-throat and hardcore, which she defines as her "edge" and has helped her during her intership but has caused emotional problems in relationships such as with Burke and George who describes her as a "robot". Because of the traumatic experience of watching her father die, Cristina is unable to handle the emotional loss from the thought of losing her loved ones. While she initially grappled with the concept of expressing her feelings, Cristina has gradually become more comfortable with sharing her inner thoughts. Nevertheless, she is still considered the least emotional of all the interns.
Despite her strong personality, when Meredith was unconscious after falling into the water during the ferry crisis, Cristina fled after she realized she could not deal with the fact that her "person" was dying. Burke encouraged her to confront her feelings, and she burst into the trauma room and insisted that the doctors try to revive Meredith again. Meredith soon woke up, and an overwhelmed Cristina happily told Meredith that she was getting married to Burke, and Meredith was the one person she wanted to tell.
Izzie tells Cristina about her cancer, and asks her not to tell anyone else. Cristina pulls every favor she possibly can and sets her up with the best surgical oncologist in Washington state, but Izzie blows it off, annoying Cristina. When confronted, Izzie is apathetic about the cancer, which makes Cristina wonder why she told her. While helping Izzie, Cristina becomes increasingly distracted on the day of her solo surgery and eventually told an OR of Izzie's illness, including Bailey and Alex.
While at Stanford Medical School, she began a romantic relationship with the renowned cardiothoracic surgeon and her professor, Colin Marlow. This relationship lasted for 3 years throughout her medical degree and the relationship ended as she finished medical school.
In “Shake Your Groove Thing,” Preston Burke gave Cristina a cup of coffee, causing her to be taken aback by the gesture. Later, touched by the fact that Burke admitted to having made a huge error in a surgery, Cristina followed Burke into the on-call room and locked the door. They proceeded to have sex. The next day, Burke tried to get Cristina to define their relationship, but a commitment-phobic Cristina brushed him off. She found out later that she was pregnant in “The Self-Destruct Button” and immediately scheduled an abortion.
Unable to deal with her emotions about the pregnancy and abortion, she distanced herself from a bewildered, frustrated Burke, telling only Meredith about her pregnancy, as she was her 'person'. Meanwhile, her covert relationship with Burke came out into the open after George saw them kissing and told Meredith and Izzie. After the Chief told Burke that he could only be interim Chief of Surgery if he was prepared to sacrifice his personal life, he decided to break up with Cristina. Although she pretended to not care, Cristina was hurt by his decision and decided against telling Burke about her pregnancy. However while in surgery with Burke in “Make Me Lose Control”, she collapsed from an ectopic pregnancy and her left fallopian tube burst. Burke was shocked to find out about the pregnancy, but Cristina reminded him that he broke up with her. Despite that, he was the only one whom she allowed to comfort her when she could not stop crying from her grief.
The couple reconciled and officially became a couple in “Bring the Pain.” When Cristina and Burke went on their first official date out of the hospital, they realized that they have almost nothing in common. Burke also noted that Cristina is “very hard to get to know” and she agreed. Although their relationship was dysfunctional, it was still going strong as they were clearly in love with each other.
Another obstacle in her relationship with Burke was their different beliefs. Burke is moderately religious and believes in spiritual traditions, while Cristina is a strong atheist who believes only in science and openly scoffs at any superstition and spiritual ideas. When she first found out about Burke's spirituality, Cristina was shocked, believing that a surgeon with his level of ambition and medical skill wouldn't have anything but a purely scientific mind. She began looking down on Burke for beliefs she considered irrational, while Burke was hurt and angry she wouldn't accept his spirituality. This clash in belief caused tension between Cristina and Burke, but it was subsequently resolved.
Cristina’s commitment issues resurfaced when Burke gave her a key to his apartment and asked her to move in with him. She felt that they did not know each other well enough yet, but Burke convinced her to open up to him. Cristina introduced Burke to her extremely messy apartment and lifestyle, but Burke accepted her for what she was. She eventually agreed to move in with Burke, but secretly kept her old apartment. The truth eventually came out and Burke was mad that Cristina had lied to him. Burke later confronts her, and talks to her about how competitive and stubborn she is, while he still loves her. Cristina replied saying that she gave up her apartment twenty minutes ago.
When George had a disastrous sexual encounter with Meredith and moved out of her place, Burke invited him to stay at his apartment. Cristina was jealous that George was able to relate better to Burke than she could, and she devised a way to make Burke kick out George himself. Insisting on her right to be comfortable in her own home, she went about naked in the apartment, and Burke was forced to evict George from their apartment.
Later, Burke became mad at Cristina when she unwittingly fell asleep during sex in “Damage Case.” During this conflict, Burke prevented Cristina from scrubbing in on several surgeries. This outraged Cristina, who hated the fact that her love life could have such a large impact on her work life. However, this argument ended abruptly when Burke was shot in the arm. When sent to the surgery room to help Burke during his intense, painful surgery, she panicked and fled, her turbulent emotions preventing her from acting. This event would impact her deeply,for she knew it wasn't like her at all to be controlled by her emotions in such a way. Later, she eventually returned to his side and held his hand. Burke’s recovery was not smooth-sailing and he discovered that he had developed a hand tremor. Burke later confided to Cristina about his hand tremor, and she told him that no-one has to know. They devised a covert partnership to hide Burke's tremors from the other doctors. In her best supportive way, she managed Burke’s surgery schedule and scrubbed in on all his surgeries, so that she could take over whenever his hand became too tired to proceed with surgery. However, her exclusivity to rare surgeries incited jealousy and suspicion from the other interns. George subsequently witnessed one of Burke’s hand tremors, and confronted Cristina about it. She frantically denied it, but suffered a crisis of confidence and eventually confessed ever ything to the Chief.
Cristina’s actions jeopardized Burke’s chances of becoming Chief of Surgery, and Burke saw this as a huge betrayal. Both parties refused to talk to each other after the fallout, jeopardizing their relationship. Cristina eventually broke the silence, and Burke asked her to marry him. Cristina was stunned and only accepted his proposal after eight days of hesitation. However, she refused to wear the ring he gave her, saying she doesn’t do rings.
Cristina's life was further complicated when her former professor and lover, Colin Marlow, arrived at Seattle Grace. In a bid to win her back, he repeatedly came onto her and tried to sabotage her relationship with Burke. On top of that, he joined the race for Chief of Surgery, so as to compete with Burke and impress her. Cristina resorted to acting extremely affectionate with Burke, after direct attempts at getting Marlow to leave Seattle Grace failed. However, Marlow was not convinced by this and used the opportunity of a rare surgery to lure Cristina to his side. Marlow humiliated Burke in the operating room by belittling Burke's knowledge of cardiothoracics, and relegated Burke to just observing the surgery. After the surgery, Cristina comforted him. Unbeknownst to her, Marlow witnessed the entire thing, telling her she had compromised herself for Burke, and was no longer the competitive and driven person he fell in love with. She responded by saying that she's learned that "sometimes you have to think about other people."
Following Burke's departure at the altar, she is devastated and remains so for a long time. Matters are not helped with the new cardiothoracic surgeon, Erica Hahn, hating her. Mama Burke apologizes to Cristina for Burke as well, for loosing him and her teacher, as she recognises that Cristina loved being surgeon more than Burke and that is likely to be why they bonded so well.
Not long after moving past Burke, Cristina was blown away by army surgeon Major Owen Hunt, who arrived at Seattle Grace on the back of an ambulance and instantly managed to impress Cristina, having performed an emergency tracheotomy with a pen in the field. Noticing the bleeding gash in Major Hunt's leg, Chief Webber ordered Cristina to take care of him. He then managed to impress her even further by stapling up his own leg without any kind of anesthesia. Later the same night, Cristina was impaled through the abdomen by a falling icicle outside the hospital, and Major Hunt found her and carried her inside. As he treated her, the two bonded, and she was visibly disappointed when he turned down Chief Webber's job offer and told that he was due to return to Iraq soon. Hunt left, but not before giving Cristina a passionate kiss.Two months later, Cristina was surprised to see Major Hunt sitting at Joe's, and the next day, she found out that he had been hired as the new Head of Trauma at Seattle Grace. Cristina panicked, not wanting to get involved with another attending. She tried to avoid him, which turned out to be unnecessary, as he had seemingly forgotten her name, calling her "Cristine". Cristina later confronted him about this, and he told her that in Iraq, his entire platoon had been killed in an attack, which was why he had decided to move on from everything that belonged in the past, including Cristina.
After this, Cristina and Owen tried to act casually around and towards each other, but sparks were in the air. Cristina even opened up to Owen about the death of her father, an event that drove her to do surgery and be the best. After a patient special to Owen died, Cristina tried to offer him her condolences, but he got upset, first threatening Cristina, then kissing her. Cristina was startled, and the two started to avoid each other again, until one day Cristina found him sitting on the doorstep outside her building. She sat down next to him and he told her that she was beautiful. Not long after, Cristina lost the solo-surgery, so Owen took her to The Vents, which cheered her up and the two kissed.
The relationship begins to blossom, with glances across rooms and stolen touches, like a Victorian romance novel, inspired by Ellis Grey's Journals, but they soon hit another roadblock when Owen's ex-finacé turns up at the hospital and it is revealed that Owen broke up with her in a two-line email. Owen admits to Cristina he is not proud of that, but he is a different person than he was, and he is terrified of what people would think when they see him now, especially his mother, as he is not the person they sent to war.
Owen was quick to declare his feeling for Cristina after his return from the army, after the experienced had changed him. In episode 16 of season 5, he confessed he wanted to wanted to be around in 40 years to "rip the scalpel out of" Cristina's hands after she becomes to old to practice. Though they only had two failed attempted dates at that point.
Cristina accepts they move forward, until Owen's psychological damage from war begins to manifest itself as PTSD, first throwing Cristina into a shelf, requiring her to get stitches, and then strangling her in his sleep. Callie and Meredith take the defensive and prevent Owen from seeing her, but Cristina claims she is fine. The two have a moment and consummate their relationship, only for Cristina to break up with Owen because she is terrified of falling asleep next to him. Cristina was missing a cardio attending to teach her, so as a gift to her, Owen brought a new cardiothoracic surgeon to Seattle Grace, Teddy Altman, a friend of his from the army. Teddy later confessed her love to Owen, which complicated Cristina and Owen's relationship a bit.
The love triangle between Owen, Cristina, and Teddy wasn't settled until the hospital was invaded by the murderous gunman Gary Clark. Owen and Teddy made it out of the hospital with a patient, but after realizing that Cristina was still inside, Owen made his decision and ran back to the hospital to find her. He then found Cristina in an OR where she was operating on Derek, who had been shot earlier, with Jackson, Meredith, and April - and with Gary Clark holding his gun against her head, ordering her to stop operating. Owen then tried to distract the gunman from Cristina, even yelling to him as he was about to shoot her: "That is the woman that I love. You shoot her, you touch her, and I will kill you!" The situation became even more dangerous when Meredith stood up, ordering the gunman to kill her instead of Derek. As the barrel of the gun moved to Meredith, Owen jumped towards Clark, forcing the shooter to shoot him instead of Meredith. After the gunman had gone, Cristina, not knowing the extent of his injuries, urged Meredith to save Owen. Luckily, it turned out the bullet had only pierced his shoulder, and in the wake of the disaster, Owen and Cristina got back together.
After the shooting, Cristina suffered from PTSD and Owen took care of her, eventually proposing to her. Not long after, they got married in front of all their friends in a ceremony held at Meredith's and moved in together, purchasing an old firehouse that they decorated. Cristina later found out that she was pregnant with their child. Owen was thrilled, but Cristina, not wanting to become a mother, told him that she was going to have an abortion. Owen tried unsuccessfully to talk her out of it, and ultimately kicked her out of their home for failing to give him a voice in the matter. However, Cristina found herself unable to go through with the abortion without Owen's support, which alarmed Meredith, who, after telling him what sort of miserable future would await both Cristina and the child if she kept it, convinced Owen to let Cristina have the abortion. Owen held Cristina's hand during the procedure, but the moment seemed bittersweet and involuntary.
It soon became clear that Owen was not okay with it. He and Cristina grew apart, he became more and more distant and silent, until the situation finally exploded during Zola's birthday party. Owen and Cristina got into a huge argument which ended with Owen accusing Cristina of killing their baby. After this, the situation only grew worse, and during a session with a marriage counselor, it became clear that they both failed to understand each other's point of view on the baby issue.
Owen's discomfort and anxiety eventually led him to getting drunk and having a one-night stand with a patient's friend. He confessed his infidelity to Cristina, who had earlier suspected him of having an affair with nurse Emily Kovach, which completely devastated her. Owen moved out of the firehouse and Cristina started to plan to move to Minnesota and accept the fellowship offer at Mayo Clinic. However, before leaving, she slept with Owen one last time, forgiving his infidelity.
After Cristina and the others had been rescued from the forest in the wake of the plane crash, Owen promised to take care of Cristina, who was in a psychosis. He took her to the firehouse and managed to get her to speak. After she had fully recovered, she left for Minnesota to pursue her fellowship, while Owen stayed back in Seattle to continue his role as Chief of Surgery. After Cristina's mentor, Dr Thomas died, she returned to Seattle and tried to make efforts to reconcile with Owen. Due to a lawsuit against the plane company, Owen asked Cristina for a divorce, which would help the surgeons with their trial. Cristina then told Owen she wanted to try again and he agreed, but they still went through with the divorce for the sake of the lawsuit. Their newfound happines was short-lived, however, as the arrival of 10-year-old Ethan Dawson, with whom Owen bonded, made it very clear that Owen still wanted children. Cristina then realized that she would never be able to give Owen what he desires, so she left him.
Cristina is a very talented doctor, graduating first in her class from Stanford, she was a straight 'A' student throughout college, and she has an exceptional knowledge of surgery and medicine, with an expressed interest in cardiothoracic surgery.
Cristina's biological father died when she was nine years old in a car accident; Cristina watched her father bleed out before help arrived, attempting to close his chest with her hands, to try and stop the bleeding. She claims that this is the reason she became a doctor, and is very likely to be the motive behind her interest in cardiothoracic surgery.
Cristina Yang became an surgical intern at Seattle Grace after graduating from medical school. On the first day of the internship, she hit it off with Meredith Grey. Cristina soon fell out with her because she felt that Meredith was given surgeries because of Derek's favoritism and her famous mother, Dr. Ellis Grey. However, Cristina apologized to Meredith and the pair soon became fast friends. Her frequent sarcastic remarks and lack of tact made it hard for people to like her, but her fellow interns gradually took to her ways and became friends with her as well.
As per Burke’s instruction, she went to check on his patient Denny Duquette. She was shocked to find out that Izzie had cut his LVAD wire in order to secure him a new heart. Against her instincts, she stayed and together with Meredith and George, helped Izzie in her endeavor. Soon enough, Bailey stumbled upon their plan and banned them from surgeries until someone admitted to cutting the LVAD wire. To her own surprise, Cristina insisted on sticking together and helped prevent the truth from coming to light. When the Chief decided to interrogate each intern individually, Cristina begged to Chief to tell her how to regain her business-like focus, saying that she's become an emotional wreck, the complete opposite of who she'd once been. She asked the Chief to tell her how to avoid being emotionally-affected so that she could continue being a great surgeon, but he refused saying that he did not want to be responsible for her becoming less human.
Cristina hit a rough patch in her career when Dr. Hahn replaced Burke as Chief of Cardiothoracics. Dr. Hahn made her work through her way in the cardio program, often being very harsh at Cristina, stating that despite clearly having talent, she believed that constantly praising her abilities was of little benefit to her development as a surgeon. The Chief noticed the situation after Cristina pulled off a procedure to prevent the cement boy from dying. Then, Hahn left and Cristina got her groove back in heart surgery. Later, it was revealed that Cristina was the solo surgery winner but she was revoked off the prize because of the intern problem and awarded the surgery of an amputation to Alex. She finally got the solo surgery, which was a hernia repair, but she didn't focus a lot on it, seeing as she was busy trying to set Izzie up with an oncologist.
After news of the Mercy West and Seattle Grace merger, Cristina decided to go into peds to protect herself as everyone else was safe. Meredith had Derek, Alex was Bailey's new favorite, Izzie had cancer, but she had nobody. She found it hard to work in peds, unwilling to play games, and when she was asked to get a chocolate pudding, she ate the last one. However in a surgery, she witnessed Mark and Arizona reattach an arm and she found herself impressed.Following the completion of her residency and board certification in general surgery, Cristina took a cardiothoracic surgery fellowship at The Mayo Clinic. She was dismayed to find that Dr. Thomas, one of her boards examiners, whom she viewed to be incompetent and out of touch with modern medicine, was also a surgeon there. After failing to integrate to the environment there, Cristina is assigned to work with Dr. Thomas until future notice. She soon found that he's actually quite a remarkable surgeon, with many things to teach her. She started to enjoy working with him. When she found out that Dr. Parker planned to force him into retirement, she defended Dr. Thomas. She did a surgery with Dr. Thomas while he was on probation. The surgery was ultimately successful, but Dr. Thomas unfortunately died while operating. Saddened by his death, Cristina drank all the tequila from her "Bug Out Bag" and flew back to Seattle, where she moved into Meredith's House, now owned by Alex. She returned to work at Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital and immediately worked to instill fear into the interns.
Working under the new Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Dr. Jeff Russell, Cristina has been granted more autonomy as a fellow than her previous experience at Mayo. She was instructed to basically run the cardiothoracic department, take point on cases, and to only defer the interesting cases to him. Later, she forces Russell to rely on her for his research.
Notes and Trivia Edit
- She was the first to call Dr. Shepherd "McDreamy."
- When Cristina had her surgery for ectopic pregnancy, the OR Board said she was 28 and her blood type was AB+.
- She is dyslexic. Yet, she managed to be a straight A student through college.
- Cristina won the first solo surgery but was not allowed to perform it. It was the first solo surgery where all the attendings chose the same resident.
- She prefers to drink coffee from the cart outside the hospital over than the cafeteria coffee.
- Her cooking skills are a bit questionable.
- She has two earrings in her right ear at all times, but only one on the left.
- She and Owen got married shortly after the shooting at the hospital, but later divorced.
- She is the godmother to Sofia Robbin Sloan Torres, Zola Grey Shepherd, and Derek Bailey Shepherd.
- When comparing Cristina to drink, Mark called her a cheap wine. Shepherd called her a single malt scotch and Owen later agrees with this.
- Starting with her move back to Seattle following Dr. Thomas's death, she lives with Alex Karev, even though he initially didn't want roommates.
- Cristina performed her first solo cardiothoracic surgery. "(Blink)".
- She can speak French. "(Do You Believe in Magic)"
- She lost her virginity at the age of 19 to her Chemistry TA. He was a whole head shorter than her, but he was very smart.
- When saving Derek's life during the shooting, Jackson suggested saying a prayer, but Cristina denied this, because "a prayer is completely useless right now". Instead, she used Derek's usual phrase before cutting to his chest "It's a beautiful day to save lives. Let's have some fun."
- At the end of season 7, she moved in with Meredith because she and Owen were fighting over the abortion issue.
- She doesn't want to memorize her interns' names. In season four, they got numbers (1, 2, 3, and 4) and in season nine, they are named after the 7 dwarfs.
- When Cristina transferred to Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital from the Mayo Clinic to complete her cardiothoracic surgery fellowship program, Owen offered her an annual salary of $300,000.
A more complete gallery with pictures of Cristina Yang can be found here.
These episodes are Cristina-centric or are otherwise very informative about her life.