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

There's this thing I used to do when I was a kid, to my mother's VCR. I'd take it apart, piece by piece, then put it back together again. But inevitably, there was always a piece or two left over, something I didn't quite know what to do with. So what do you do with that piece? Do you try to fit it back in? Do you try to make it work? Or do you decide you can live without that missing piece? When we go without certain things long enough, it's easy to forget just how much we need them. We forget what we had once. We forget what it's like to live with a thing, not that we need, but that we want. That's why it's so important for us to remind ourselves, for us to remember, just because we can live without something, it doesn't mean we have to.

With or Without You is the seventeenth episode of the eleventh season and the 237th overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short Summary[]

Meredith, rattled by the latest events, tries to figure out what to do about Derek. Meanwhile, Owen is shocked when his mother is admitted to the hospital.

Full Summary[]

Derek explains to Meredith that he left his phone at the research lab, and by the time he figured that out, he was already at the airport, on his way to her. Meredith asks why his research fellow answered the phone. Derek says she probably thought it was him. He called her from the airport, and then she told him that she spoke to Meredith. Derek insists that is the whole story. If she wants, he can go through it again. The woman is just his research fellow. Meredith wishes she could believe him, but she knows how this works. She was his resident once, and she thinks Derek came home because he thought he was in trouble. He says he came home because he thinks they are in trouble. He came home to work on them. Meredith grabs her stuff and leaves for the hospital, right after telling Derek their kids would love to spend the day with him.

After a few flashbacks of Meredith and Derek's recent fights about D.C., there's a flashback to nine weeks ago, where Derek is questioning a group of doctors. He asks which one of them is patch-clamping nerve cellls. A woman, Renee Collier, says that's her. Her research is going good, all things considered. The synaptic time discoveries she made will help them immensely with their project, so he wants to follow up on her project. He looks forward to working with her, he says. 

Meredith gets off the elevator and Alex talks her through one of his cases. He's running out of ideas. She takes a look at the chart. She tells him Derek's home since this morning. He asks about the phone thing, but Meredith only says she wants to examine the patient herself and get a new ultrasound. She then walks off.

Amelia and Owen meet up in the scrub room. Amelia just finished her surgery, so Owen came to see if Bailey can have the OR for her bowel obstruction. It's all hers, Amelia says. She says she feels like last night's business was unfinished. He feels that way too, so they're gonna need a follow-up where they won't be interrupted. She gets paged as she says that. Owen asks about tonight, as they're both not on-call. They agree to meet up. Amelia smiles at him and leaves.

Stephanie catches up with Jo. She spent so much time with Amelia on Herman's tumor that she's behind on every other specialty, so she needs to log more hours in other specialties fast. April comes over and says she has a surgery, and since Owen had a personal matter come up, she needs one of them to take care of a patient with a headache in the ER. They both volunteer, but April picks Jo. Jo tells Stephanie that the case is probably neuro, so she did Stephanie a favor. However, Stephanie wants Jo to call her if it's something big.

Owen enters the ER to answer a page. Richard says he shouldn't be worried and that she's understandibly embarrassed, so they put her in trauma 1. He lists the injuries and says Shepherd is examining her now. Owen asks who they're talking about. Richard thought Owen had been told about the patient and pulls the curtain aside, revealing Owen's mother. She's embarrassed, because she fell in the shower, so she's wearing nothing but a robe. There's a fireman by her side, who tells Owen she fell through the glass and that she got dizzy. Amelia wants a head CT. John, the fireman, says that Evelyn has been feeling dizzy all morning. Evelyn wants John to stay, as he was with her when it happened. Owen tells John he can go, as his part is over now. Evelyn Hunt again says that John was with her when she fell. Contrary to Richard and Amelia, Owen doesn't get it. John says he was making them some breakfast before work. He introduces himself, but Owen doesn't want to shake his hand. Owen hasn't heard about John. Owen's mother didn't tell him that she and John are dating, so Amelia breaks the news.

Owen asks his mother how long this has been going on. About a year, Evelyn tells him. As Amelia tries to keep things medical, Evelyn says John is nice to her. John says he's heard so much about Owen, as his mother is really proud of him. Owen asks how old John is. Evelyn thinks it's rude, but John says 35. Owen is mad, because that's young enough to be his brother. Owen thinks John is taking advantage of his mother, but Evelyn insists it's a serious relationship. Owen gets even madder and tells John he'll change his mother's locks, passwords and phone number. Richard calls him to take a walk.

Alex and Meredith walk into Danny's room, and Alex asks where his sister is. Probably finding more stupid stuff to cram into this room, Danny replies, gesturing to the objects that are in there to make the room feel more homey. As Meredith starts examining, Danny's sister Kathy comes in. Alex says they think another infection is developing. Kathy asks if they can't just do the catheter procedure again to drain the infection, but Meredith interrupts and says she thinks they can go in surgically to do a procedure that would prevent infection from recurring. Alex says that's risky in Danny's state, so Alex would rather continue with the antibiotics until a liver becomes available. Meredith says the procedure could get Danny out of the hospital for a while, which makes Danny wanna go for it. Meredith suggests they run more tests, so she and Alex can come to an agreement on what to do.

In the ER, Jo is talking to Andrea, a woman who's had a constant headache for a month. It moves around. She went to China last month and she's afraid she has the bird flu or something. She also has nosebleeds, where the blood starts to come out of her nose, but then it goes back up. Jo puts on a mask as there's blood coming out of Andrea's nose. Jo wants to go at it with a tissue, but then it goes back up. She says it's definitely not a nosebleed.

Ben is talking to a group of interns about Matt, a patient of his and Jackson's. They used a special technique to grow an ear on Matt's arm, as he doesn't have one. The group of interns is amazed. Ben says they'll place the new ear over Matt's ear canal in surgery later today. Stephanie has taken an interest and as Ben leaves the room, she takes him aside and tries to charm him to get him to give her his case. He says no, even resisting her 50 dollar offer. She needs to log more ENT hours, but Ben doesn't see how that is his problem.

Alex asks Meredith why she'd bring up the surgery to Danny without talking to him about it first. Meredith says he asked her for her opinion, so she gave it. Alex says Danny has difficulties stopping his blood from clotting, so he thinks Danny won't even survive a surgery that big. Meredith reminds him he brought the case to her and says she's sure she can handle the surgery. Alex wonders what's going on. He asks what her deal is today, but she claims there's no deal. 

After another few flashbacks of Meredith and Derek's history, there's a flashback to D.C., seven weeks ago. Derek asks Renee what led her to develop this technique. She says she wants to cure autism, which he says is ambitious for a fellow. Her little sister has autism. Renee's always wondered what she was thinking. Derek hopes she'll find that out. They look at each other before continuing their work.

Callie and Maggie are watching Meredith. They hold Alex as he walks by. They want to know what he knows about Meredith, but all he knows is that she's pushing a risky surgery on his patient. He doesn't know who the woman on the phone was. Callie and Maggie find it weird that she didn't say it, as yesterday she couldn't shut up about it. Alex says all he knows is that Derek came home last night. Maggie and Callie think it's a bad sign, because they think he's here to apologize for something. "Crap," Alex says.

Evelyn can't keep herself still in the scanner, much to Amelia's annoyance. Evelyn says she's not usually like this, because she served in the Vietnam war so she knows not to panic. She thinks she's just upset about Owen. She didn't mean for him to find out like this. He has the right to be a little surprised and shocked, but so was she when she found out that John loved her. She knows what people must think of them, but when he kissed her, they were exactly the same age. All those years between them disappeared. Owen's always worried about her being lonely since his dad died 32 years ago, but Evelyn is all but lonely. She's having the time of her life. Amelia says she needs to stop talking if they want to get a good scan. Amelia acknowledges that John sounds great. Evelyn knows it'd be easier if John were her age, but honestly, it's nicer that he isn't.

Jo is using a scope to look up Andrea's nose. Everything looks good, until suddenly a black thing appears on the screen. They scream, drawing Stephanie's attention. Jo says there's nothing cool. She pretends like Andrea is just another neurotic lady to get Stephanie to go away. Jo then tells Andrea that looked like some kind of critter that's living in her sinus cavities. Andrea wants her to get it out immediately.

Danny is having difficulties breathing. He says he wants the surgery, but Kathy doesn't allow it. Danny insists he can't keep doing this. He wants to stop waiting for a liver in the hospital. He's completely done with all the stuff she brought. It's his life and choice. He asks Meredith for the surgery, today.

Kathy is upset and leaves the room. She knows he's right. He's almost 18, so she wants to honor his wish. He's miserable and horrified, so she'll give her consent if that means he can get out of the hospital. She wants to hear from them that it's going to work. She spent her entire adult life taking care of him, so she wouldn't know what to do without him.

After a series of short flashbacks of the plane crash, Zola's adoption and the fertility treatments, a long flashback shows what happened four weeks ago in D.C. Renee is getting coffee, but she spills on herself and throws the mug in the sink in frustration. Derek comes in to check on her. She apologizes for the cup. He offers to talk about what's going on with her. She's been working on her project for over a year, but nothing comes up. She feels like she's waiting her time. Derek says she feels like that because she's close to a breakthrough. He recognizes that feeling. He advises her to keep going. She's close to the line and she can't stop before she crosses it. They stare into each other's eyes. He says she needs to get some sleep. She says she'll try.

Owen walks into his mother's room. She has a mild head contusion, so they're gonna keep her for observation overnight. She supposes he has questions. He says no and says he brought her socks and underwear. Evelyn finds it funny that she told him his whole childhood to wear clean socks and underwear in case he got in an accident, and now here she is, no socks, no underwear. She tells him that she met John at a writer's group. She writes little stories about her time in the service. John liked them. One night, they stayed late talking about their stories. He suggested to get some coffee to get the conversation going. That was 6 months ago, and they've still not run out of things to talk about. She'll spare him the details of her sex life. She asks if it really matters that John is not like Owen pictured. He says it does, because he thinks something is wrong here. He thinks John is using her, that he's one of these people who prey on older people. "There's no way a man like that could..." Owen says. "Love me?" Evelyn asks. He asks her to think about it rationally. She should've told him right away, because he wouldn't have let John do this to her. Evelyn says it feels right, though. He says he would never let anybody hurt her. She asks him to leave her alone. Once he's gone, she starts crying.

Amelia finds Owen and says she likes his mother. He interrupts her and asks if there's a point to this. Amelia says it really seems like John and his mother are in love. He says she knows nothing about his mother, so he asks to stay out of it. Amelia is hurt and walks off. Owen realizes he was too harsh.

In the ER, Jo is using steam to try to lure the critter out. She's holding forceps to extract it when it comes out. However, Andrea keeps on talking about the lake where she and her group went swimming. She thinks that's where it got up her nose. Jo urges her to be quiet. The thing appears and Jo tries to pull it out, but Andrea gets hurt and she slaps Jo to make her stop pulling. She immediately apologizes. Jo says they'll try again after a little break.

Stephanie is in the gallery watching Jackson and Ben's surgery. Bailey sits down next to her and stares at her. She heard that Stephanie tried to bribe her way onto that surgery. Stephanie says it doesn't matter since it didn't work. Bailey mocks the fact that Stephanie tried to pay Ben $50 for the surgery. In her days, it was at least $100 for a surgery like that. Bailey says they can't even go to dinner for $50.

Meredith and Alex are operating on Danny. Alex wants to pack him and stop, but Meredith says he'll die within this week if they stop now. She knows Danny won't get a liver this week. Alex is still clearly not on board and shoots down the solution she offers. He says he hijacked her patient to perform a surgery on him that could kill him, while he only asked her opinion. Danny's pressure drops, so Meredith decides to put a shunt in from the splenic to the IVC as it's the only possible option.

After flashbacks of the shooting, the post-it marriage and the proposal, there's a flashbacks to one week ago. Renee is in bed as Derek calls her. He asks her to come to the lab.

Derek smilingly tells Renee he couldn't stop thinking about her research. He's figured something out and shows her through a microscope.

Richard asks Evelyn is feeling okay because her blood pressure dropped since the last check. She feels like she's being made to much fuss over because her son is the boss. John appears in the doorway. He did some chores for her and brought some clothes and a new diary, as he couldn't find her old one. She says he didn't have to do all that. John asks if she's okay. Evelyn says he's very sweet, but she doesn't think they should continue this. She says he doesn't need an old woman who falls in the shower. He knows this is about Owen. Evelyn says that Owen does everything for her and that he's been to hell and back, so if he doesn't feel like this is okay, she can't go through with it. John asks if she feels that way to. Before she can answer, she screams in pain. Richard asks for help and feels her abdomen's rigid. Since her blood pressure is dropping rapidly, Richard asks a nurse to page Maggie and Owen. John looks worried as Evelyn continues to scream in pain.

Meredith's managed to get the bleeding under control, surprising Alex. Meredith needs Alex to believe in her rather than question her every move. The monitor starts beeping as the anastomosis is leaking, as Alex predicted would happen. Meredith rushes to repair it.

Owen asks Richard and Maggie what happened with mother as they wheel her into the OR. Richard says it's a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. The symptoms must have been caused by a sentinel bleed. Owen questions how they didn't see this. Maggie says all her injuries were consistent with her fall, so they didn't think about looking further. Richard assures Owen that they got her.

Owen steps into the waiting room to take a breath and then sees John. He greets him and asks why he's here. John says he will go as Evelyn asked him to, but he won't walk away before he knows that Evelyn is doing okay. He knows she doesn't want him anymore, but he wants her. So he'll stay here until the moment that he knows she's okay and she won't even have to know about it. Until then, he'll sit in this chair. Owen now realizes that John really does love his mother. He sits down with him in silence.

Meredith and Alex continue operating on Danny, while Richard and Maggie operate on Evelyn.

Meredith and Alex walk into the waiting room. Kathy walks up to them. She's assuming the surgery worked and asks if she can see her brother. Unfortunately, Alex delivers the bad news. As Kathy breaks down, Meredith tries to hold back her tears and walks off.

After flashbacks of the candle house, the drowning and the early days of the MerDer romance, a flashback shows what happened last night in D.C. Renee and Derek have made breakthrough. She says he's amazing. She could kiss him. She won't, obviously, but after all the wrong turns and brick walls, finding the answer is such a high. They stare into each other's eyes. He says he should go as it's getting late. She takes his hand and asks if he has to. She moves closer and they kiss.

Meredith is standing at the main entrance of the hospital. She starts walking away as Alex comes over, but he tells her to stop. She says she should and could have saved Danny. If only Alex hadn't hold her down with his second guessing her. Alex hugs her tightly. She tells him to stop because she's mad at him. Alex says that she is actually mad at Derek, but she can take it out on him. He zips her jacket and allows her to be a mess. He can take it. He wants her to know that she was not a mess in that OR. She didn't kill the kid, so she can keep it together. He hugs her again, and this time she doesn't resist.

Richard informs John and Owen that they managed to repair the aneurysm. That was one lucky fall, because had the aneurysm ruptured outside the hospital, she wouldn't have made it. They thank Richard. John takes his stuff and asks Owen to tell his mother goodbye for him. Also, he had a book shipped for Evelyn that she's always wanted but it went out of print. He found it for her and it arrived yesterday. He wants Owen to make sure that she gets it. Owen says he will. He then tells John to wait.

John is sitting by Evelyn's bedside. She says she told him to go, but John says that Owen asked him to stick around. Owen says they've been talking. Evelyn wishes John didn't have to see her like this, but he says she looks beautiful. Owen smiles at the sight of his mother being happy.

April joined Jo and Andrea in the trauma room. Andrea refuses to let them take it out because it hurts. She's scared because she thinks it has teeth. April points out that the critter is scared to come out, because he has found the perfect home. The tissues in her sinuses are cozy, but also tasty. It'll start to chomp through them and get closer to her brain, which will be like Christmas dinner. Andrea freaks out and wants them to take it out immediately. April tells Andrea to take a big sniff, which will help them to get it out. So she does, and Jo manages to pull it out. It turns out to be a leech. April asks if Andrea wants to keep him, but she doesn't want to. Jo, on the other hand, does.

Jo walks into the resident's lounge and shows Stephanie the leech, which had her working on one patient all day. Stephanie gets mad, because Jo just logged 7 uninterrupted hours of trauma without even trying. Jo looks at the leech and says she's thinking about naming it Herbie. Stephanie furiously says she'll put Herbie up Jo's nose while she sleeps.

Amelia is on her way out of the hospital. Owen catches up with her and apologizes for being a jackass and how he spoke to her. She's happy to hear that. He doesn't want her to walk away now. The whole situation took him by surprise and he's not so good with surprises. Neither is Amelia. She suggests they try to get over that.

They end up having sex in the trailer.

Meredith comes home and asks Derek about the kids. He just put them to bed. She says his name, but he tells her to wait.

After a couple of flashbacks to the earliest days of Meredith and Derek's love life, Derek stops kissing Renee. He apologizes, but he can't do this. Renee says she knows there's something between them, that it's not all in her head. He says he loves his wife. He doesn't want anything other than what he has with her. He says he has to go right now and leaves the lab. Derek's phone and keys catch Renee's eye, just laying there.

Meredith is silent. Derek calls post-it, Zola and Bailey, tumors on the wall and ferry boat scrub caps. He thought D.C. was everything, but he was wrong. Meredith is everything. He loves her, and he's not gonna stop loving her. He says he can't and doesn't want to live without her. He's gonna do everything in his power to prove that to her. Meredith says that she can live without him, but she doesn't want to. She doesn't ever want to. Meanwhile, Meredith's voice over says that just because you can live without something, doesn't mean that you have to. Meredith and Derek smile at each other.


Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]


Medical Notes[]


  • Diagnosis:
    • Biliary atresia
    • Chronic liver rejection
    • Cholangitis
  • Treatment:
    • Albumin
    • Surgery
    • Shunt

Danny, 17, had had a prior liver transplant, but that liver was now failing, so he was waiting for another transplant. He had biliary atresia, so Alex went to Meredith for more options. After examining Danny, Meredith proposed a surgery to recreate his biliary tree, which would prevent future infections, a more long-term solution than draining the infection and treating with antibiotics. Further testing revealed that he was in full-blown cholangitis. Alex felt the surgery was too risky, but Meredith wanted to try it. Danny decided he wanted the surgery, so they took him in. In surgery, he had a lot of bleeding, so Meredith decided to try something else, a shunt. After the shunt was placed, he anastomosis started leaking. They tried to repair the damage, but they were unsuccessful and despite their best efforts, Danny died in the OR.

Amelia's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Laminectomy

Amelia was scrubbing out on a laminectomy in OR 2.

Bailey's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Bowel obstruction
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

Bailey was operating on a patient with a bowel obstruction.

April's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Lacerated spleen
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

April was heading to surgery with a patient with a lacerated spleen.

Evelyn Hunt[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Head laceration
    • Mild head contusion
    • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
    • Sentinel bleed
  • Treatment:
    • Aneurysm repair

Evelyn came into the ER after falling in the shower. She'd been dizzy that morning. They ran a CT, which revealed a minor head contusion, so they planned to keep her overnight. However, she was later in severe abdominal pain. They diagnosed an abdominal aortic aneurysm and rushed her into surgery. The surgery was successful and she was awake and stable after surgery.


  • Diagnosis:
    • Foreign body in sinus cavity
  • Treatment:
    • Manual extraction

Andrea came into the ER with a headache that had persisted for a month and moved around her head. She also said she had nosebleeds, but when she went to wipe the blood, it went back up her nose. Jo witnessed this happening and said that it wasn't a nosebleed; there was something living in her nose. Jo used a scope to look up her nose and they saw a creature slithering around. Jo then tried to use steam to draw the creature out so she could pull it. It worked, but when she started to pull it with tweezers, Andrea objected, saying that it was clawing. Jo said they'd take a break and try again. Andrea had to be convinced, but she eventually agreed to have them try to extract it again. This time, they were successful and found that it was a leech in her sinus.


  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Primary microvascular arterial repair
    • Venous anastomosis
    • Ear reconstruction

Matt was missing his ear, so Jackson used cartilage to grow one on his arm. They were finally ready to take the grown ear off his arm and place it over his ear canal. The surgery was successful.


Song Performer Scene
"Build It Better" Aron Wright
  • John tells Owen he's staying until he knows Evelyn is okay.
  • Owen sits with John.
  • Meredith and Alex continue working on Danny.
  • Maggie and Richard work on Evelyn.
  • Alex and Meredith inform Kathy that Danny didn't make it.
  • Renee and Derek see a breakthrough in the lab.
  • Renee says she could kiss him, but won't.
  • Derek says he should go, but Renee stops him and leans in for a kiss.
  • Meredith is outside the hospital. Alex comes out to comfort her.

Notes and Trivia[]


Grey's Anatomy 11x17 Promo With or Without You (HD) Season 11 Episode 17

  • This episode's title originated from the song With or Without You, originally sung by U2.
  • This episode scored 8.18 million viewers.
  • Filming for this episode was scheduled from February 5 to February 19, 2015.
  • This episode marks the first one of season 11 not to feature Arizona.
  • This episode starts the morning after the previous episode.


Episode Stills[]


Miranda: Bribery, Edwards? You think bribery is an appropriate standard of practice in this hospital, bribing for surgeries?
Stephanie: I don't know what you're talking about.
Miranda: You tried to bribe your way onto that surgery down there.
Stephanie: Warren. Sleeping with the enemy.
Miranda: You demean yourself, and you demean medicine.
Stephanie: I'm sorry. And it doesn't matter, anyway. It didn't work.
Miranda: $50? $50. Do you know how much a full ear replantation would have gone for in my day? $100, easy. $120, even, plus two weeks of night call. You add in inflation, you should have offered him $175, at least. $50. We can't even go to dinner for $50.

Derek: I am calling post-it. Zola and Bailey and tumors on the walls and ferry boat scrub caps. I thought D.C. was everything. And I was wrong. You... You. You're everything. I love you, and I'm not gonna stop loving you. Meredith, I can't live without you. I don't want to live without you. And I'm gonna do everything in my power to prove it.
Meredith: I can live without you. But I don't want to. I don't ever want to.

Renee: Tell me that this is all in my head, that there isn't something between us. I know it's there.
Derek: I love my wife. I'm married. I don't want anything other than what I have with her. I have to go. Right now I have to go.

Derek: Do you know why you feel like that? It's because you're close. You're very close to a breakthrough. I've been there. It's tedious. It takes patience and concentration. And you want it. You want a breakthrough so bad that you have to break something.
Renee: I'll replace the cup. I'm...
Derek: Stop talking about the cup. Keep going. You're right at the line. You're gonna cross it. Don't stop.

Jo: I pulled it out of a lady's nose. This little sucker had me working on one single case all day.
Stephanie: All day? All day. So you just logged six, seven uninterrupted hours of trauma without even trying, all because of a stupid leech up someone's stupid nose?
Jo: I think I'm gonna name him Herbie.
Stephanie: I'm gonna put Herbie up your nose while you sleep.

Meredith: I'm mad at you.
Alex: No, you're not.
Meredith: I am.
Alex: No, you're mad at Derek. You want to take it out on me, go on. You want to yell and hit and scream 'cause things are hard at home, okay. You want to be a mess, be a mess. I don't care. I can take it.

See Also[]

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