Grey's Anatomy Universe Wiki
Grey's Anatomy Universe Wiki

A couple of hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin shared with the world the secret of his success. “Never leave that till tomorrow,” he said, “Which you can do today.” This is the man who discovered electricity. You’d think more of us would listen to what he had to say. I don’t know why we put things off, but if I had to guess, I’d say it has a lot to do with fear. Fear of failure. Fear of pain. Fear of rejection. Sometimes the fear is just of making a decision, because what if you’re wrong? What if you make a mistake you can’t undo? Whatever it is we're afraid of, one thing holds true: that by the time the pain of not doing the thing gets worse than the fear of doing it, it can feel like we're carrying around a giant tumor. And you thought I was speaking metaphorically. The early bird catches the worm; a stitch in time saves nine. He who hesitates is lost. We can't pretend we haven't been told. We've all heard the proverbs, heard the philosophers, heard our grandparents warning us about wasted time, heard the damn poets urging us to ‘seize the day'. Still sometimes we have to see for ourselves. We have to make our own mistakes. We have to learn our own lessons. We have to sweep today's possibility under tomorrow's rug until we can't anymore, until we finally understand for ourselves what Benjamin Franklin meant. That knowing is better than wondering, that waking is better than sleeping. And that even the biggest failure, even the worst most intractable mistake beats the hell out of never trying.

If Tomorrow Never Comes is the sixth episode of the first season and the sixth overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short Summary[]

All of the interns are in awe when a woman comes in with a record breaking tumor, but it is so far advanced that the woman's prognosis is not good. Now that Bailey knows about Meredith and Derek's affair, their jobs are in jeopardy, and she strongly advises Meredith to end it. Meanwhile, Cristina and Burke's secret relationship gets more complicated, and when no one else can be reached, Izzie has to perform a major procedure on her own.

Full Summary[]

Meredith wakes up, turning off her alarm as she stares into the rainy window. George tries to open her door while holding two coffee mugs, spilling the coffee onto himself. Izzy pats him on the shoulder, as he leaves away to get changed. Meredith's alarm goes off again, and she turns it off again. Izzie and George bicker over waiting for Meredith before leaving for work. Izzie teases George about his affections for Meredith, which he denies.

Meredith and Derek bump into each other in the parking lot. Derek accuses Meredith of avoiding him, and she confirms it, and says she's running late. Derek says it's getting complicated, but Meredith lets him know it's complicated for -her-: She's the one sleeping with the attending, and Bailey won't speak to her anymore. Derek says that's not necessarily a bad thing. Derek asks her if she wants him to just walk away from it. She says yes, then no, then reaffirms she's late. Derek gives her time to wait.

Cristina doesn't mind being late for work if it's to have great sex with Burke. In the changing rooms, Meredith is freaking out about being kicked out for sleeping with McDreamy. Cristina says they can't kick her out - officially. Just make her life miserable. Meredith's convinced she has to end her relationship with Derek, but Cristina tells her to shut up. They meet up with Bailey, who doesn't even acknowledge her lateness.

Bailey tells the interns to maintain decorum and "not laugh, let your jaws hit the floor", as she presents Annie Connors, suffering from a gigantic tumor.

Alex greets Annie, with Bailey reminding him to use Ms. Annie defends Alex, saying it makes her feel young. Alex also introduces Dr. Burke and goes over the patient's diagnosis and proposed treatment. Burke assigns Izzie with getting a CT scan of the patient, although she requests that her parents be notified- and that Alex takes her to the scans instead.

The interns discuss Annie's weight and Alex's demeanor. Bailey reminds them that her surgery will be long and need many hands, so they'll need them to work hard to not kill anyone.

Cristina bumps into Burke, who thought they "weren't talking". But Cristina wants in. He tells her to find Annie's mother and family history, and he'll see what he can do. Meanwhile, Izzie goes over Jimmy's diagnoses and proposes an X-Ray. Bailey agrees, comforting the woman with the patient.

George brings up Meredith again, but Izzie tells him to stop talking. Derek introduces the interns and Bailey to Edward, with an awkward silence occuring. Edward welcomes the interns to hell. Meredith suggests an inter-spinal catheter, which Derek agrees to and assigns Meredith to prep under Bailey's harsh glare. Bailey gets in the elevator with Derek.

Bailey accuses Derek of favoring Meredith, saying his looks won't help. He says he's not favoring her- she's good. But Bailey's not convinced. Derek reminds her he's her boss. Bailey holds the elevator door open and lets him know she ain't scared - if she notices him favoring Meredith any more she'll make sure she can't visit an O.R. for a month.

Alex's with Annie in the CT room, reassuring her that everything will be fine because he'll be right there waiting. Alex discusses Annie, asking how anyone lets their body get like that. He says she's sick, and doesn't know how she lives with herself - without realizing she can hear everything she says.

Cristina is with Annie's mother, who says Annie was just scared, the bigger she got the less she wanted a doctor. Annie's mother says she called 911, it seemed the right thing to do. Cristina tells her the right thing to do would have been to call a year ago.

Meredith talks to Edward's daughter, who asks Meredith to try and convince him to get brain surgery. She knows it's risky and hard to understand, but she just wants her dad to walk again. Meredith says that she does indeed know how it feels.

Derek and Burke discuss Annie's treatment, having different approaches. Bailey wonders if Annie really wants to live, having watched her tumor grow for so long. Derek reminds them everyone does things daily that may kill them. Bailey wonders if, with the low rate of success, if it's even worth going through the procedure.

Meredith comes up to Derek, wondering if he's a candidate for IBS. Derek reminds her the patient doesn't want it. Meredith insists, but Derek brings up the risks, and that it is not their job to make the patient change his mind as Bailey watched. Additionally, he says that since Meredith seems to disagree with his decision, she should not scrub in. Bailey smiles as Meredith and Derek walk away.

Burke and Alex go over Annie's prognosis as Annie's mother orders her bed. Annie has doubts about the surgery, but her mother insists she will have the surgery. Annie concedes, but requests Alex scrubs out of the surgery, subtly hinting that she heard him talking about her.

Burke reminds Alex he could get sued. Alex says he didn't realize the mic was on, and Burke says he must now realize he's not scrubbing in. Cristina comes in, rudely addressing the patient's history. Burke walks away, telling George to scrub in with Cristina. Alex asks him why Cristina isn't banned as he walks away.

George is talking with Annie, who tells him he doesn't need to talk to the nasty tumor lady who deserves what's coming to her. George asks her why she let it get this bad. Annie tells him every time someone went to the hospital someone she cared about died, making her put off her visits to the hospital. George tells her she's not the only one that puts things off, since he hasn't asked her roommate out since day one. Annie chastises him for comparing his love life to her gigantic, life-threatening tumor.

Cristina tells Meredith sleeping with Derek doesn't undermine her skills. Meredith is convinced to end things. Alex argues with Cristina over getting kicked off the surgery for things she does every day. Cristina wants to stab his thigh with a fork. Meredith calls Derek a jackass. George tries to hit on Meredith, awkwardly. She gets paged and has to go. Everyone on the table laughs at him or pities his poor flirting skills.

Meredith walks into Derek and Edwards, where Derek asks him if he's considered alternate procedures. He is angry at doctors wanting to cut him, he asks if he has to become drooling and useless for them to leave him alone. His daughter begs him to reconsider, but he tells her that even if he has Parkinson, he'll still be at her wedding. She cries and walks away. Edwards wonders why his daughter won't drop the issue. Meredith tells him it's his life, yes. But his daughter's too, who just wants him to get better - all he has to do is try.

Bailey hopes everyone has strong backs before dealing with the giant tumor. Meredith comes in and lets Derek know the patient has agreed to IBS. Burke lets him know he has enough time. Meredith tries to talk to Bailey - she didn't know Derek was her boss. Bailey tells her the problem is how Derek's favoritism will slowly ruin her day when everyone starts bitching at her because of the favors Meredith gets. Bailey asks if Meredith understand. She says yes.

Alex is moaning about being unable to scrub in, as a patient vomits on his lab coat. Izzie tells the patient he's her favorite person today. Burke tries to banter, but Cristina tells him to shut up - they're operating.

Izzie briefs Jimmy's wife on his situation, telling her he should be house in no time. She tells him about how he was making pancakes, everything was fine, but she's carried away for an emergency. Alex flirts with the other girls as he changes, but forgets to change his pager's battery.

Derek and Meredith are operating on Edwards. Meredith holds his hands as Derek drills into his head. Izzie is being swamped with requests, because Alex is not getting his pages. Alex watches Annie's operation. George fumbles, and Burke scolds him. Alex mocks him from the bench.

Edwards is annoyed at his shaking, but when the probe goes in, his hands finally stop shaking. He cries in joy as he claps his hands. As they carry him outside the O.R. Meredith begs him to stop giving her favors so she can try to dig herself out of her hole. Derek tells her she did a good job, and she apologizes for calling him a jackass. Derek says she didn't, but she says she did - twice. Edwards tells her to just marry him - or she will.

Jimmy is stroking, and Izzie doesn't know how to deal with the clot. His wife shouts at Izzie that she said he'd be fine, and Izzie shouts to get her out of there. She's being forced to operate on the spot, despite not feeling ready. Izzie panics at suction not getting the clot, and decides to use her hands instead. Afterwards, she massages the heart until his pulse comes back. She sighs in relief.

As they operate on Annie, Bailey requests more O-. Alex keeps mocking George, while Meredith asks him if he's as shallow as he seems. He invites her for a drink to hear about his secret pain, and Meredith asks if that's ever worked. "Sometimes", he says. She says it must be because he looks like that, so he asks if that's a yes. She says no, she's seeing someone.

Izzie bursts in informing Burke of what procedure she had to perform on Jimmy's heart, with Alex thinking she didn't tell him for the glory. In the locker rooms, she insists- she paged him fifty times. Alex check's his pager, and realized he didn't change his battery. Izzie grabs his pager and throws it on the floor, stomping it and calling him a terrible hateful man as she walks away.

One of Annie's vessel burst, and they don't have enough blood to keep supplying her. Alex runs, grabbing the blood and running back to the O.R. Annie's mother waits, distraught. Burke tries to resuscitate Annie, but isn't able to. They lose her. Alex comes in immediately after with the blood, but he's too late. Everyone walks away as he's left watching at Annie.

Burke is closing up Jimmy, saying it was a messy job. Izzie apologizes, but he tells her not to be - she saved his life. Meredith helps Edward walk towards his daughter, and they both smile.

Burke comes in, telling Cristina he won't do her any more favors. She assures him that with how the operation went, it was anything but a favor. Burke wants to know what they've got going on, and Cristina tells him if he really wants to be the guy who needs a definition. He tells her to lock the door.

Alex tells George Meredith is off the market. George says that's impossible - if she was seeing someone, he'd know. Later, he tries to come into her room with beers to talk to her, but she's not there. He realizes he waited for too long and lost his chance.

Under the rain, Derek and Meredith spend a tender moment together, before getting into Derek's car.


Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]


Medical Notes[]

Annie Connors[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Tumor
  • Treatment:
    • Tumor resection

Annie, 43, came in with a large tumor that had been growing for a year and a half. Her mother made her come into the hospital when she had trouble breathing. The tumor was pressing on her diaphragm, which caused the shortness of breath. They attempted surgery to remove it, but Annie died on the table.

Jimmy Harper[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Occlusion of chest tube
    • Clot
    • Cardiac tamponade
  • Treatment:
    • Coronary bypass

Jimmy had had a coronary bypass the previous day. His chest tube had no output, so they checked for occlusion. They relieved the occlusion, which allowed the fluid build-up to be released. Despite this, he became unstable due to a clot. Izzie had to open his chest bedside to remove the clot. Then she massaged his heart until he stabilized.

Edward Levangie[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Parkinson's Disease
  • Treatment:
    • Deep brain stimulation

Edward, 63, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He was in the hospital to be treated for his back pain. However, Izzie suggested deep brain stimulation as a possible treatment for his Parkinson's. He was initially reluctant to have brain surgery, but he eventually agreed. The surgery went well and he was up and walking afterward.


Song Performer Scene
"Save Me" Jem
  • Meredith wakes up and turns off her alarm.
  • George tries to bring coffee to Meredith but accidently spills it on himself.
  • George and Izzie talk about Meredith being late.
  • Meredith gets to work.
"Chapter" Psapp
  • Cristina is with Burke in a supply closet.
  • She is also running late.
  • Burke wants to talk about it, but Cristina doesn't.
"Walk or Ride" The Ditty Bops
  • Cristina and Meredith talk about Derek.
  • The other interns join them.
  • George awkwardly tries to invite Meredith out, but she doesn't answer and gets paged away.
"Never Leave Your Heart Alone" Butterfly Boucher
  • Alex looks at Annie's body.
  • Burke tells Izzie she saved her patient's life.
  • Bailey tells Annie's mom that she died.
  • Meredith walks Mr. Levangie down the hall. His daughter takes over.
  • Burke tells Cristina he won't do her favors anymore.
  • He wants to define what they are.
  • Alex and George talk about Meredith.
  • George takes beers to Meredith's room, but finds that she's gone.
  • Meredith takes a bottle of wine and invites Derek to watch the sun rise over the ferry with her.

Notes and Trivia[]

  • This episode's title originated from the song If Tomorrow Never Comes, originally sung by Garth Brooks.
  • This episode scored 17.88 million viewers.
  • This is the first episode of the series to have a Grey Matter blog post, although was written in retrospect during the hiatus between season two and three.
  • Goof: When Alex walks into the gallery, he talks to another intern, who mentions that George and Cristina have been retracting the tumor for eight hours. This-- and the next shot, where they are shown in the rigid retraction positions-- indicates that they haven't moved freely in hours. However, while Alex is talking to the other intern, George can be seen moving around clearly in the OR below.


Episode Stills[]


Meredith: Dr. Bailey. I didn't know... that he was my boss, when I met him. I didn't know.
Bailey: I don't care.
Meredith: Really? Oh, well, you sort of seemed to not be talking to me, so I ...
Bailey: You see this, what's happening right here? This is the problem with you sleeping with my boss. Not whether or not you know him before, but how it affects my day. And me standing here talking to you about your sex life affects my day. And the longer this little fling goes on, the more favors you get over the others, who are fighting tooth and nail just to make it through this program without any assistance. When those people start finding out what's going on and they don't want to work with you and talk to you or look at you, and they start bitching and moaning at me, the more it affects my day. So, no, Dr. Grey, I don't care what you knew, or when you knew it. Are we understood?

Izzie (to a patient after he throws up on Alex): You are so my favorite person today.

Izzie Life is short, George. Do you really want to die before you ever ask her out?
George: I do not want to ask her out.
Izzie Do you really want to die a liar?
George: I'm not... I'm not dying.

Izzie Have you ever seen Alex like that? He actually seemed sincere.
Meredith: "Seemed" being the operative word.

Bailey: You think you're charming in that talented, neurotic, overly moussed hair sort of way, good for you. But if you think I'm going to stand back and watch while you favor her...
Derek: I don't favor her. She's good.
Bailey: I'm sure she is.
Derek: You know, can I point out that, technically, I'm your boss?
Bailey: You don't scare me. Look, I'm not going to advertise your extracurricular activities with my intern. However, the next time I see you favoring Meredith Grey in any way, I'll make sure she doesn't see the inside of on OR for a month. Just for the sake of balance.

Derek: You know, they call you the Nazi.
Bailey: So I've heard.

Meredith: Sorry I called you a jackass.
Derek: You didn't.
Meredith: I did. Twice.

Meredith: Are you really as shallow and callous as you seem?
Alex: Oh, you want to go out for a drink later and hear about my secret pain?
Meredith: Does that line ever work for you?
Alex: Sometimes.

Alex: You opened a heart bedside and you couldn't even page me? What needed all the glory for yourself, right?
Izzie I paged you 50 times. Do you have any idea what I have been through?
Alex: Oh, man. The battery. I forgot to change it.
Izzie You forgot? You forgot?! (throws his pager on the ground and breaks it) You are hateful! You are a hateful, hateful, lazy, arrogant, hateful man! Hateful!
Derek: Never a dull moment here at Seattle Grace.

Meredith: I, um, know this place where there's an amazing view of sunrise over the ferryboats.
Derek: I have a thing for ferryboats.
Meredith: I remember.

See Also[]

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

The Grey Matter blog post on this episode can be found here.