Like I said, disappearances happen. Pains go phantom. Blood stops running and people, people fade away. There's more I have to say, so much more, but... I've disappeared.

Drowning on Dry Land is the sixteenth episode of the third season and the 52nd overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short SummaryEdit

The mass casualty incident continues to swamp Seattle Grace. Alex cares for Jane Doe while trying to find her husband, as well as please the hopeful, yet angry crowd in the clinic trying to get information; George crosses a professional line, and begins to regret it; Izzie tries her hand at a burr hole, not an easy feat for her as she doesn't have surgical equipment, nor much recent hands-on OR time; and Derek is sent into the field to manage some of the trauma, specifically neuro, coming in, but finds something else.

Full SummaryEdit

Meredith does her usual voiceover as we see Meredith struggle in the water for a few moments. Until, she finally floats down underneath the surface.

Back at Seattle Grace, Cristina is standing by the desk lost in her own thoughts as she is ambushed by medicals treating some of her cases. She ask them if either of them has seen Dr Grey. One of the medicals says she checked in on her earlier, and Cristina interrupts saying she's looking for Meredith Grey not Ellis Grey. None of them has seen her.

In the OR, George watches as the woman is being preped for surgery. She asks him if he found her son, Chris. Bailey tells George to answer her. George tells the woman that her son is all right, and that he's waiting for her when she gets out of surgery. George walks out of the OR and Bailey follows him. "What happens when the happy mother in there, wakes up after surgery and her son isn't there to greet her?" Bailey asks George. George replies that if his lie helps to save the woman's life he's okay with it.

In another room, Addison, Burke and the Chief are discussing the pregnant woman's case. Burke walks out, as Alex walks in. Alex tells the Chief that there are tons of people out there who are looking for family members. The Chief says they have no information. The Chief tells Alex to figure it out before he walks out. Alex wants to know how the pregnant woman is doing. Addison is clearly affected by the woman, as she replies, "To be in that condition and have no one who knows you. She's all alone. It makes you think... if I went missing. Would anyone notice I was gone?"

Back at the ferry boat scene, the man Izzie is working on is seizing. Izzie says there's nothing more she can do. She says they have to let it ride out. The man's friend yells at Izzie, telling her she can't just let him die. Izzie is clearly torn. The man stops seizing. Izzie doesn't know what to do. "Please, you can't quit on us now, you've got to try something else," says the man's friend to Izzie. She tells him she's out of practice. She tells them she's sorry. The man's friend tells her she's got to believe that he will make it. Izzie asks if someone has a cellphone.

Derek is still at the ferry boat scene. Some EMTs bring a man on a stretcher over to Derek. Derek asks who had been treating the man. He sees Meredith's ID on the man. The EMT says Meredith must've moved on to another patient. Derek says she must've, but he clearly looks uncertain. Derek looks around and sees the blonde little girl standing alone. Derek walks over to the little girl and asks if she's okay, he later asks if Meredith is okay. The little girl grimly shakes her head.

Underwater, Meredith is slowly being sunk to the bottom.

Back at the hosptial, George is holding a picture of Chris looking around for him. Worried people start to ask Alex if he has a new list. Alex doesn't. Everyone starts to talk, as Alex yells for them to be quiet. "That list is all I have for you, and it sucks but that's it," he says to the worried people. Sydney walks up to Alex and says she understand that he's under a lot of pressure and the if he needs anything, he should tell her. Alex sees a camera lying over on a table.

The Chief is standing in the OR watching room when Izzie calls him. Izzie starts to tell him the symptoms and he listens. Izzie tells the Chief that they can't get him out, that the man's stuck. The Chief tells her to stay calm. The Chief yells out that someone needs to find a book on neurosurgery. Mark walks up, asking if everything's okay. The Chief asks Mark if he knows anything about doing holes into the skull. Izzie walks over and says to the pinned man's friends that she's gonna need a drill. Izzie tells them that she's gonna have to drill a hole into his head.

At the hospital, George asks Cristina, while she's stitching up a patient, if she has seen Chris. She says she hasn't, while she asks him if he has seen Meredith. Elsewhere, Alex puts up some photos on patients, saying it would be good if they could identify the patients. Alex tells Sydney that there's a case he's got to check on. A man behind Alex says that his pregnant wife might be here.

At the ferry boat site, the little girl is standing with Derek. Derek tells the girl that it's okay. Derek asks the girl which way Meredith went. The little girl walks away and Derek follows her. The girl walks over to the edge where Meredith fell off. Derek kneels next to her and asks, "Where exactly is Meredith?" The little girl points out to the water, and Derek swallows.

Underwater, Meredith keeps sinking.

In the OR at Grace, Burke is doing surgery on the pregnant woman. Addison is also there. Alex walks in, holding the camera, he says he found the pregnant woman's husband. Alex says that the pregnant woman's name is Casey. Addison isn't sure that the man is really the pregnant woman's husband. She says there could've been many pregnant women on the ferry boat. Addison tells him to not give the man hope, unless he's checked every body in the morgue. Alex takes a picture of the pregnant woman and leaves. Addison tells Burke that the interns are stubborn. The woman's blood pressure starts to drop, and Addison says that the baby isn't getting enough blood. The echo is turned on, and the baby's heart rate stabilizes.

Alex rushes into George who's sitting on the stairs. George asks Alex if you're a kid, how many places there is to hide out. Alex asks him if he's looking for a boy. George says he does, his mother is in surgery. In the morgue, Alex and George are there. Alex takes some pictures of the bodies. George says Alex could've warned him that they were going to the morgue. Alex tells him to stop whining and tells him to look for a pregnant chick. George asks Alex if all the bodies bother him, Alex says it doesn't. George finds a pregnant blonde woman. Alex takes a picture of her.

Back to Izzie, she's preparing to drill the hole. The Chief is on the speaker on the phone talking her through it. Mark is with the Chief too. Mark tells Izzie to trust her instincts. Izzie nervously says she needs to clean the drill one more time. The Chief says she's already cleaned it a dozen times. Izzie takes a deep breath and starts the procedure as she starts to bore into the skull. The procedure is successful. The man starts to open his eyes.

The little girl is standing staring out towards the water. A coast guard walks over to her. He says she needs to come with him. The coast guard picks the little girl up and starts to walk away when a coughing can be heard. The man turns around and sees Derek carrying a lifeless Meredith from out of the water.

Some time later, in the ambulance, Meredith is blue and unconscious, as Derek desperately performs CPR to save her life. It doesn't seem to work, as Meredith remains lifeless.

George walks into the OR where the woman is still in surgery. George asks how the woman is doing. Bailey says she's doing good. Bailey asks him if he found her son. George says he's checked with every hospital, but he can't find Chris. Bailey is clearly upset at George. George says he's sorry. George walks out of the OR.

By the ER entrance, an ambulance drives up and Izzie jumps out. The man she was trying to save is lying on a stretcher as the Chief walks in. Izzie gives the Chief details on the man's current condition. The Chief tells Izzie she saved the man's life. He tells her to get to the OR and that she's officially off probation. Izzie smiles happily.

Izzie rushes into the hospital and sees Cristina. "Oh my god, Cristina, you are not going to believe what I just did. I'm going to tell you, but you're not going to believe it. I drilled a hole into this guy's skull! Several holes actually with a drill I borrowed from this guy named Vince!" she says to Cristina excitedly. Izzie says that her hands weren't even shaking. Cristina says, "You are a hero. I'm jealous. But I need to know where the hell Meredith is." Izzie says she didn't see her at the scene, the scene where she was a rockstar.

Alex is standing by the board and he sets up pictures of the bodies from the morgue. He tells the people that he knows it must be hard, but they need to identify the bodies. Alex is clearly affected by the heartbroken people around him.

In the OR, the man is in surgery, Mark tells Izzie that she needs to finish what she started. He then gives the medical drill to her.

Alex sees the man who was looking for his pregnant wife and walks over to him. Alex tells him that he found two pregnant women. Alex shows him a picture of the woman who's in surgery. The man says that it isn't his wife. His wife is blonde. Alex tells him that the woman in surgery's eyes are brown. The man says that his wife's eyes are blue. Alex shows the man the picture of the dead pregnant woman. Alex looks around and takes in all the grieving people around him. It's getting to him.

At ER entrance, an ambulance pulls up and Bailey asks what they got. The EMT says that it's a Jane Doe. Derek says, "She's not a Jane Doe. She's Meredith Grey." Derek keeps doing CPR. Bailey asks how long she's been down. Derek says he doesn't know. Derek quietly repeats to himself, "She's alive. She's alive." They take Meredith out of the ambulance.

Cristina is with a patient when Burke walks up to her. The two of them walk into a private room. Burke asks what Cristina's problem is. Cristina says that everyone's back, except her. Burke says that it's about Meredith. "She doesn't know yet. She's my person," says Cristina. She also tells Burke that if she were to murder someone, Meredith is the one she would call for help. Burke walks out of the room, and Cristina says out loud, "She's my person." Cristina's pager goes off.

Izzie and Mark are still in the OR with her patient. Mark says it looks good. Izzie's pager also goes off. Izzie says it can wait. The nurse says, she thinks she should take it.

Alex walks into the pregnant woman's room, where Addison also is. Alex asks how the woman is doing. Addison says she's steady for now. Alex says she's still a Jane Doe. Alex looks at Addison and says, "I'd notice... if you went missing. I'd notice." Also Alex's pager goes off.

George is sitting on the stairs, looking at the picture of Chris. He stands up and walks over to the OR board and sees a John Doe is having surgery, and the John Doe is age seven.

Callie is performing an operation when George rushes in. He asks if he can see the boy's face. Callie says she's in the middle of surgery. George takes out the picture and asks if it's her patient. It is. George's pager goes off.

The little girl is standing in the hospital. Her mom rushes up to her and hugs her. The little girl smiles.

Bailey and Derek are working on Meredith in the trauma room. She's in bad shape. Bailey says they need to start a central line. She tells Derek that he needs to get out. The Chief walks in and tells Derek to get out. Derek strokes Meredith's face before leaving the trauma room. Burke rushes out of the elevator and sees Derek sitting down in the hallway with his face in his hands, crying silently. Burke looks into the trauma room and then turns to Derek, asking what he needs. "I need you to go in there."

Burke goes into the trauma room. Meredith flatlines, just as Addison walks in. She's clearly affected. Burke announces that Meredith is hypothermic. They keep working on her. Outside in the hallway, Derek is sitting, distraught on the floor. Mark walks up and sits down next to him. Mark lays a comforting hand on Derek's arm. Back in the trauma room, they are still working to save Meredith's life. Bailey asks what Meredith's temp is, it's just up to 81. "C'mon, Meredith don't do this," replies Addison. A nurse walks into the room and Addison looks out to see Mark and Derek sitting on the floor.

Izzie, Alex, and George are standing out in the hallway. Cristina rushes up and asks if it's Meredith. Alex says it's Meredith. Cristina's clearly in shock. Izzie tells her that Meredith's gonna be okay. George says she doesn't know that, he says people die. Izzie gives her speech. She says that she believes in the good, and that she thinks Denny is still with her and that she thinks George did a huge mistake in marrying Callie. Izzie hugs Cristina.

Back in the trauma room, everyone is slowly coming to the fact that Meredith is dying. Burke says they've been in here for 20 minutes. Meredith once again flatlines. "We're losing her," says the Chief grimly.

Meredith starts to cough as she wakes up in a dreamy version of the trauma room. She sits up and sees Dylan — the man who died from the bomb in the episode "As We Know It" — standing next door. She asks if she's dead. "Damn right you're dead," says a voice. Meredith turns around. It's Denny. "Holy—" says Meredith as the screen goes black.


  • Meredith Grey
  • Cristina Yang
  • Izzie Stevens
  • Alex Karev
  • George O'Malley
  • Miranda Bailey
  • Richard Webber
  • Addison Montgomery
  • Callie Torres
  • Mark Sloan
  • Preston Burke
  • Derek Shepherd
  • Denny Duquette
  • Dylan Young
  • Jane Doe
  • Sydney Heron
  • Vince
  • Carly Height
  • Rick's Friend
  • Greg
  • Rick
  • Scared Guy
  • Angry Woman
  • Scared Guy #2
  • Lisa the Child
  • Nurse Tyler Christian (far left)
  • Nurse Kate
  • Surgical Nurse
  • Businessman (on gurney)
  • Hopeful Guy
  • Woman (right, with Lisa)
  • Paramedic #3
  • Paramedic #5
  • Search and Rescue #3
  • Young Man

Main CastEdit

Special Guest StarsEdit

Guest StarsEdit


Medical NotesEdit


  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:

A nurse asked Cristina if she had checked on Kramer in 2309 and she had. He had had x-rays.


  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:

Higgins in 2312 needed diet orders, which Cristina provided.


  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Digoxin

Collins in 2323 needed to be monitored. The nurse was told to page Cristina if his systolic dropped below 90. He'd been given a loading dose of digoxin.

Ellis GreyEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Alzheimer's disease
  • Doctors:
  • Treatment:

A nurse mentioned checking on Ellis and that she was fine.

Carly HeightEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Open abdominal wound
    • Evisceration
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

Carly, 45, was taken into surgery to treat her open abdominal wound.

Jane DoeEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Pregnancy
    • Cardiac tamponade
    • Traumatic pericardial effusion
    • Facial injuries
    • Crush injuries
    • Hypothermia
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery
    • Fetal monitoring

Burke took the pregnant Jane Doe into surgery. Addison monitored her fetus while Burke operated. She became hypotensive and the baby had late decels, but that was quickly rectified and Burke finished the surgery.


  • Diagnosis:
    • Chest injuries
    • Leg injuries
    • Broken arm
    • Crush injuries
    • Blown pupil
    • Seizure
    • Depressed skull fracture
    • Intracranial bleed
  • Treatment:
    • Burr holes
    • Craniotomy

Rick was still seizing and still trapped under the car. Needing assistance, Izzie called the hospital for help. Webber talked her through drilling burr holes over the phone with Mark's help. Once she drilled a hole, she looked at the dura, which was pulsing with his heart beat. Then she packed the area with gauze to minimize bleeding and they waited for him to be extracted. While they were waiting, he opened his eyes. He was then transported to the hospital so he could have brain surgery.

Business ManEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Nearly severed leg
  • Treatment:

The patient whose artery Meredith had tied off was taken to the hospital.

Derek's PatientEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Fracture
  • Treatment:

Derek saw a patient and said to stabilize the fracture and get him to the hospital as quickly as possible.

Cristina's PatientEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Arm laceration
  • Treatment:
    • Stitches

Cristina stitched up a laceration on a woman's arm in the ER.


  • Diagnosis:
  • Doctors:
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

A man identified one of the pictures Alex posted as Fatima. Alex told the man that she was in the OR, but stable.

Meredith GreyEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Hypothermia
    • Asystole
  • Treatment:
    • Attempted resuscitation

After pulling Meredith out of the water, Derek started CPR in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Once they arrived, they took her into a trauma bay and continued to attempt resuscitation while warming her up.

Young ManEdit

  • Diagnosis:
    • Leg laceration
  • Treatment:
    • Stitches

Cristina stitched up the leg of a young man in the ER.

Christopher HeightEdit

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Internal fixation of lumbar spine

George found out that Callie was operating on a John Doe who was seven years old, doing an internal fixation of the lumbar spine. George came into the OR and asked Callie to look at the picture of Chris Height. She identified her patient as Chris Height.


Song Performer Scene
"A Bitter Song" Butterfly Boucher
  • Meredith surfaces and takes a deep breath several times before going back under.
"Timeless" Kate Havnevik
  • The little girl looks out into the water. A member of the coast guard comes and carries her away.
  • As they walk away, Derek surfaces with Meredith in his arms.
"The Great Escape" Patrick Watson
  • Alex puts up the pictures of the deceased victims.
  • Mark tells Izzie she can do the burr holes in surgery.
  • Alex shows the picture of Jane Doe to Mr. Clark. It's not Casey and he then identifies the deceased pregnant woman as Casey.
  • Meredith and Derek arrive at the hospital.
"A Bitter Song" Butterfly Boucher
  • Addison steps in and offers solutions to warm Meredith up.
  • Mark sits down with Derek.
  • They continue working on Meredith.
  • The other interns wait outside for news.

Notes and TriviaEdit

Grey's Anatomy Drowning on Dry Land Promo 300:38

Grey's Anatomy Drowning on Dry Land Promo 3.16

  • This episode's title originated from the song Drowning On Dry Land, originally sung by Tab Benoit.
  • This episode scored 25.76 million viewers.
  • After one day of filming scenes where Meredith was given CPR, Ellen Pompeo asked the director for a chest plate because it gave her heart palpitations and it hurt her chest. She was given the plastic chest plate that Demi Moore used on the set of Charlie's Angels.
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyle Chandler are credited at the end of the episode instead of the beginning to preserve the end of episode surprise.


Episode StillsEdit


Izzie: Oh, Cristina, oh my God, you are not going to believe what I just did, I'm going to tell you, but you're not going to believe me, you're going to think I made the whole thing up... I drilled a hole into this guy's skull. Several holes, actually, with a drill I borrowed from a guy named Vince, packed the hole with freaking tissue and then brought him back here, and then now I get to scrub in on his craniotomy. It was like a ride, this crazy rollercoaster ride with, like adrenaline shooting out of my ears. You would think that my hands would be shaking but they weren't, there was no shaking. Did I mention the drill? The scene where I was a rockstar, by the way.

Burke: What is your problem?
Cristina: You know everyone’s back. Everyone’s back except her. And I listen to her. Everyday, about her McLove life, her McDreamy, her McCrap. And the one day, the one day I have a thing she disappears.
Burke: Meredith, this is about Meredith.
Cristina: She doesn’t know yet.
Burke: Meredith?
Cristina: She’s my person.
Burke: Right. And if Meredith doesn’t approve, then what?
Cristina: This, this is not about getting her approval, its about…
Burke: What?
Cristina: Telling her makes it, makes it…. If I murdered someone, she’s the person I’d call to help me drag the corpse across the living room floor.
Burke: Ok, now, you’re likening someone here to a corpse. I’m done.
Cristina: She’s my person.

(Meredith wakes and sees Dylan)
Dylan: Hey!
Meredith: Hey … Am I … dead?
Denny: Damn right, you are.
Meredith: Holy …

Bailey: (to the paramedic): What do we got?
Paramedic: Jane Doe. She's hypothermic and dropping.
Derek: (doing repeated CPR on Meredith) She's not a Jane Doe. It's Meredith Grey. It's Meredith.
Bailey: Derek! Derek! How long has she been down?
Derek: I don't know. She's alive. She's alive.

Bailey: (to George) What happens when the happy mother in there wakes up after surgery and her son isn't there to greet her? What then? How are you gonna explain that, O'Malley?
George: If she wakes up after surgery because my lie helped to save her life. I'm okay with that, Dr. Bailey.

George: He's lost. Or... or...
Bailey: He's in the water. So when she wakes up, I get to inform her that she is not going to die... she's just going to want to die.
George: I'm sorry, I can … keep looking.
Bailey: Yes, you do that.

See AlsoEdit

A complete overview of this episode's crew can be found here.

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