Some of the most notable character deaths in television came as a surprise. Great writers know how to rip apart your heart by taking away a beloved character without any warning (Tara on Buffy, Nate on Six Feet Under, almost everyone of Lost…the list goes on and on). I’ve always been more a fan of these surprise killings than the ones that you know are coming. Then again, if pulled off correctly, trailers can certainly heighten the tension of an episode by introducing the fact that one person will not survive. A good example is Buffy’s “Passion” wherein the promos clearly stated a major character would die. I remember watching the initial preview and anticipating the major death for a week. The result was a completely satisfying albeit terribly heartbreaking send-off to Jenny Calendar. Then again, not all shows do it so well. The series finale of Dawson’s Creek, for example, used the death of Jen to pull in viewers and create a somewhat meaningless dramatic effect (I still sort of loved it though).

Needless to say, when Grey’s Anatomy began airing its doomsday preview of “Flight” I found myself fully anticipating this dramatic finale. Sure, Shonda Rimes had already made it clear that a major character would bite the bullet this season, but nonetheless the previews still got to me. I’ve been replaying it over and over and obsessing about which character may leave us. With several contracts seemingly up in the air, I always assumed Mer/Der would be leaving this season but suddenly, I’m beginning to wonder if the whole gang will stick around in the aftermath of yet another tragedy. So, instead of watching the promo in slow-mo again (you can find it on youtube, I promise), I’ve decided to write my top 8 list of the characters in danger and who I really think will die this week.

“Why top 8” you may ask? Well, it really should be a top 6. The promos have stated that 6 went down and 1 will die. Based on the penultimate episode, the 6 in danger would be: Christina, Meredith, Derek, Arizona, Mark, and Lexie (the only significant people on that flight). That Shonda Rimes can be a tricky one though, so my guess is these aren’t the only ones in danger of leaving Seattle Grace forever. So without further ado, the 8 most likely deaths are:

8/ Mark- I can’t really see how Mark’s death would impact the show. Sure, Lexie would be heartbroken. Derek would be super sad. Arizona/Callie might be bummed that their baby daddy is gone. But life would go on. The core original group (Meredith, Christina, and Alex) would not be greatly affected by Mark’s demise. In fact, I might even cause a more likely migration east for MerDer. My guess is he’s the safest one on that plane.

7/ Derek- His death would be too easy. The previews do a great job of not once showing Derek, and I’m sure he’ll be noticeably missing from most of the episode as well. The one who you think will die never does, so he’s probably safe as well. Also, I think Shonda loves MerDer too much to give them an unhappy ending now that they are finally a family.

6/ Lexie- Another way too easy death. Lexie has been severely underused and somewhat missing from most of this season. Other than her childlike infatuation with Mark, there’s been little in the way of creative stories for Lexie. The crash will be an opportunity for her to gain a new spark. Mark and Lexie will likely get a chance to reconnect as a couple next season. There’s nothing like a terrible tragedy to make you rethink your loved ones. Also, she’s one of the only two characters to look like she’s in danger in the preview, so she probably won’t be in the actual episode.

5/ Meredith- I really don’t believe Meredith will die for all the same reasons Derek won’t. These two will have a happy ending. I very much doubt Ellen Pompeo will stick around for more than another season (if that), but I’ve never once thought Meredith’s death would be the driving force for her exit. So why is she so high on my list? I really believe they’re trying to surprise us with this death. Mark, Christina, and Meredith are the only three plane crash survivors with little to no injuries. Imagine how awesome/terrible it would be if after everyone is rescued, Meredith falls down and dies of internal bleeding or some sort of hemorrhage.

4) Christina- She is barely any likelier to die than Meredith, but again I could totally see the hemorrhage thing happening. The only reason I would be less shocked by a Christina death than a Meredith one, is she’s had easily the most interested character arc this season. Christina’s decision about her future career- and the lack of any real decision until recently- has caused turmoil for a lot of characters. She’s the one death that would affect everyone in the hospital. Also, what better way to bring Teddy and Owen back on good terms?

3) Richard- What? He wasn’t on the plane! Yea, I know. I believe 100% that all the plane crashers are safe and therefore I have to look at the Seattle Grace group to determine who is next likely to meet the reaper. Richard, to me, is one of the weaker characters lately. With his wife’s disease and current love affair, he is getting some interesting storylines. It’s just hard to buy the whole chief-turned-surgeon without assuming the next step is retirement/death. Who better to die and cause all the residents to stick around and work for the hospital he spent his life creating? On the other hand, who better to die and cause some of the Seattle Grace lifers to seek an out and move on? Either way, a Richard death would drive the plot forward.

2/ Arizona- This is the one I’m worried about the most. Again, the previews clearly show Arizona and Lexie are the two in danger. Both girls are trapped underneath bits of the plane, and Arizona seems to be a bite more panicky than Lexie. If one of them is actually in danger, Arizona would be the likeliest target. She is one of the most beloved characters and one who brings the most light to the show. Recently, she’s been thinking a lot about death with the reappearance of her cancer-ridden childhood friend. Arizona’s parting words to Callie made her wife promise never to leave her. Her second strongest relationship, with Alex, also ended with some hostility. Arizona wasn’t supposed to be on that plane, but she felt betrayed and abandoned upon learning that Alex is considering a position at Hopkins. In a last minute change of plans, she took Alex’s seat on the plane, possibly sealing her fate. The bottom line is if writer’s are going for an emotional wrought finale, Arizona might be the one to kill.

1/ April- All of this might not matter, because I’d be willing to bet April leaves Seattle Grace (and the world) this Thursday. She’s been on a downward spiral for several episodes after failing the boards. She finally lost her virginity only to feel as though she completely turned her back on her beliefs. She’s had her job offers at all hospitals revoked, including and most importantly, Seattle Grace. The bottom line is April doesn’t have a future on the show. She’s been in a drunken stupor for several recent scenes and there can only be two possible deaths for her:  (1) a drunken car accident or (2) suicide. Regardless of how she goes, my guess is the tragic plane crash is simply a distraction from the real tragedy that is playing out inside April.

Then again, maybe the plane crash is really sending them all into a mystical island where one by one they will all die at the hands of a mysterious smoke monster…I mean, come one. Could that preview be any more like Lost?