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Grey’s Anatomy: 10 Things About Emerald City Bar That Make No Sense

ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy has been on the air since 2005, and with season 18 just around the corner, it’s not slowing down yet. With a huge cast of characters, intricate history, and spin-offs like Private Practice and Station 19, Grey’s has created a whole world for fans to enjoy.

Although the show has had some fantastic and groundbreaking storylines over the years, sometimes the writers drop the scalpel and things stop making sense. This can definitely be said for Emerald City Bar. A lot of iconic moments have taken place in the bar, but there are also some things about it that have fans scratching their heads.

Why Is It So Popular?

It’s not unheard of for workplaces to have a favorite bar that the staff all frequent, but the doctors of Grey’s seem to be obsessed with Emerald City Bar. While it makes sense for the show to have a place for the doctors to unwind outside of work, the audience is never given any insight into why they love this particular bar.

Given their huge salaries and the occasional million-dollar settlement, one would think they could afford to visit Michelin star restaurants. The fact is, Joe’s isn’t the nicest bar in the world: it’s dark, dingy, and you’re almost definitely going to bump into everyone you’ve slept with. While it holds a lot of fond memories, there have also been a lot of bad decisions made at the bar. Fans love Joe’s, but for the sake of the doctors, it might be best if they tried stepping out of their comfort zone.

Why Does Everyone Hook Up There?

Speaking of bad decisions, why is Joe’s bar such a hot spot for hook-ups? Everyone knows that Grey’s Anatomy is full of workplace romances, but when they’re not sneaking into on-call rooms, they’re propositioning each other at Joe’s bar.

What is it about a beer at Joe’s that makes every doctor willing to throw their ring out the window and jump into bed with the closest intern? It can’t be the ambiance, as Emerald City Bar has as much charm as a Penny Blake spin-off series. Who knows if the writers will eventually retcon the whole show, a la Amelia Shepherd’s brain tumor, and reveal that Joe was testing dangerous aphrodisiacs on the doctors the whole time.

Hiring Alex

During season 4, Alex Karev got a second job so that he could buy a house with Rebecca Pope. Fans were shocked when this second job turned out to be bartending at Emerald City bar.

This doesn’t seem like the brightest decision from Joe. At the time, Alex had just started his residency, so he would have no flexibility and be constantly exhausted from the long hours, not to mention from his personal situation, caregiving for an unstable ferry victim who was lying about carrying his child. Plus, it’s Alex Karev: as loveable as he is, there’s no way he’s a good bartender.

Hiring Cristina

The only thing worse than Alex bartending is Cristina Yang bartending. During season 7, Cristina quit the hospital, and in episode 9, she also got a job working at Joe’s Bar.

To no one’s surprise, Cristina was an absolutely terrible bartender. She poured beers that were 100 percent foam, downed shots with her friends, and even gave a guy a lap dance. Joe swiftly fired her, but you have to wonder what he was thinking when he hired her in the first place.

Why Was Joe In The Operating Room?

Usually, Joe is behind the bar pouring pints for the doctors, but eagle-eyed viewers might have seen him pop up somewhere else. In the very first season, Joe can be seen in the operating room in full scrubs, working as an anesthesiologist.

While it’s certainly a surprise to think that Joe worked nights at the bar and days in the OR, this plot hole can easily be explained away. Steven Bailey, who portrays Joe, worked as an extra before he landed the role of Joe. This included playing an anesthesiologist in some OR scenes.

Joe’s Surgery

One of the most bizarre plot holes occurs in the first episode of season 2. Joe collapses in Emerald City Bar, and after he’s admitted into Seattle Grace, he’s diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. Derek Shepherd and Preston Burke wanted to remove the aneurysm by cooling Joe’s body down until his heart stopped to reduce the risk of rupturing it.

However, the surgery was extremely expensive, and Joe was hesitant because he didn’t have insurance. The only possible way to afford it would be to sell Emerald City Bar. Thankfully, George O’Malley found a research project to pay for the surgery. Joe would technically be dead while his heart was stopped, so his body could briefly be considered donated. While fans were happy that Joe got his surgery, this loophole is very confusing. Joe was not dead, so his body cannot be donated to science. While the doctors on Grey’s have been known to bend or break the rules, the fact that Richard as Chief signed off on this makes no sense.

Why Would Joe Serve Alcohol To Richard?

Richard Webber’s struggles with alcoholism have been a part of Grey’s Anatomy since its earliest seasons. The show has been praised for its heartbreaking but realistic portrayal of addiction, as Richard has struggled with sobriety over the course of the show.

During season 6, Richard started drinking again, and in episode 9, he went to Emerald City Bar to drink. Even though Joe was aware Richard was an alcoholic, he still chose to serve Richard, which didn’t make much sense. However, one explanation is that Joe wanted to keep an eye on him, and he did make Richard hand over his car keys so he wouldn’t drive home drunk. If Joe turned him away, Richard would likely just go to another bar, so at least if he stayed at Emerald City, Joe could make sure Richard was safe.

Station 19

While it’s a little confusing that everyone from Grey-Sloan visits the same bar, at least it’s directly across the street. This, however, doesn’t explain why everyone from Station 19 visits exactly the same bar.

Seattle Fire Department Station 19 is located three blocks away, but there must surely be a closer bar in central Seattle that they could go to. While it makes sense for the show to have the firefighters visit the same bar so there can be crossovers, it’s still strange that all the firefighters would go to the local hospital bar.

The Crash

In the shocking mid-season finale of season 16, a car crashed into Emerald City Bar. Fan’s had to wait two months to find out if fan-favorites like Levi Schmidt and Ben Warren survived the accident. But the biggest question of all remains unanswered: is the bar okay?

Thankfully everyone in the bar survived, but the driver of the car, Joan, sadly passed away. Thankfully, her husband, Don, survives, and their story is wrapped up in the season 3 premiere of Station 19. However, since then, the bar has not appeared on either Grey’s Anatomy or Station 19. Emerald City Bar has been one of the central locations since season 1 of Grey’s Anatomy, so it’s a huge surprise that no one has frequented the bar. At least, in season 17, it’s understandable that the bar would be closed due to Covid-19, but it remains to be seen whether it will return in season 18.

Where Is Joe?

The biggest question on every superfan’s lips is where is Joe? His last appearance on the show was in season 7, episode 9, when he hired Cristina, but since then, there has been no sight of Joe at all.

Steven Bailey, who portrays Joe, revealed to TV Guide that the showrunners didn’t want to give him more screentime so they amicably parted ways. Given that Joe was a fan-favorite character from the start, it’s disappointing that he hasn’t returned to the show, but it also leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Who is running the bar? Is Joe still in Seattle? Is he still with his partner Walter? How are their twins? Before the show ends, fans want Joe’s story to finally be wrapped up.

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