‘Private Practice’s Final Season Is Oddly Different From Any Other


The Big Picture

  • Season 6 of
    Private Practice
    pays homage to Mark Sloan’s death, tying it to
    Grey’s Anatomy
  • Each episode in Season 6 wraps up individual character storylines rather than following one large arc, to give satisfying closure to the characters.
  • Season 6 of
    Private Practice
    transitions to a police procedural tone due to Sheldon’s storyline, deviating from the medical focus the show usually has.

In the six seasons it was on air, Private Practice proved itself to be a spectacular spin-off series, while still managing to differentiate itself enough from its mothership, Grey’s Anatomy. Both shows were created by Shonda Rhimes and focus on the professional and personal lives of doctors, but Private Practice opted for a more in-depth look into these topics. By the time the show came to a close, fans had laughed, cried, and gasped more times than one can count, and the series never shied away from getting real or throwing a curveball. So by Season 6, anything was possible, and the show took that and ran with it. What resulted is a season unlike any of the previous ones. Each episode felt like a personalized send-off to the characters and a love letter to fans. It tied things up rather nicely by the end, but there were still some choices made throughout the final season that changed the scope of the show in unprecedented ways.

Private Practice

A spin-off of the medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” centering on the life of neonatal surgeon Addison Montgomery. 

Release Date
September 26, 2007



‘Private Practice’s Final Season Paid Homage to a Major ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Character

One of the most memorable parts of Private Practice’s sixth season, and honestly the show as a whole, is the scene in which Addison (Kate Walsh) learns that Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) has died. Mark and Addison’s relationship, both romantically and platonic, goes back to even before Grey’s Anatomy. Addison was married to Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), who was best friends with Mark, and the three had known each other since med-school. But later in their lives, Addison and Mark had an affair, which resulted in the implosion of her marriage to Derek.

We see Addison and Mark come together plenty of times throughout Grey’s Anatomy’s run, and they even discuss finally pursuing a real relationship together in an episode of Private Practice. It ultimately doesn’t come to fruition because Mark is still in love with Lexie (Chyler Leigh), but the pair remain great friends nonetheless. So it was all the more devastating when, during a celebration of Pete’s (Tim Daly) life, Addison receives the world-altering news that Mark Sloan is being taken off life support. We see plenty of crossovers between the two shows throughout Private Practice’s run, but not every story bled into each other. Things like Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona’s (Jessica Capshaw) car accident brought forth an Addison cameo, and Sloan Riley’s (Leven Rambin) pregnancy resulted in a crossover between the shows. But bigger tragedies such as the hospital shooting or George O’Malley’s (T.R. Knight) death didn’t come about.

So, when the plane crash happened in Grey’s Anatomy’s eighth season, it didn’t seem as though it would affect the Private Practice storyline. That is, until Mark Sloan died. Addison gets the call from Derek in the second episode of Private Practice’s final season and immediately breaks down. We don’t see much fallout from the death since it was revealed in the same episode the show was portraying the death of one of their own characters, but it’s still a prominent moment nonetheless. The show knew we would want to see Addison receive the news about her longtime friend – as hard as it would be to stomach – and it certainly set Season 6 off to an emotional start.

Each Episode of ‘Private Practive’ Season 6 Individually Wraps Up Character Arcs

One of the unique things about Private Practice’s final season is that, rather than following a singular arc to wrap up the character’s storylines, it opted instead to have each episode serve as a vignette of sorts to give proper closure. We still see everyone interact, and it’s not like the show entirely ignores the other characters, but it does take special care to wrap up each character’s story and provide a satisfying ending to them. Addison struggles through some hurdles throughout the season, such as her son Henry’s biological mother coming back and wanting to be a bigger part of his life, and a lawsuit from a past patient.

But if there was one thing Private Practice was adamant about doing it was giving Addison her long overdue happy ending, and she ends the season married to Jake Reilly (Benjamin Bratt) and also reunites with Naomi (Audra McDonald). Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) is sober and happy and falls in love with another doctor named James Peterson (Matt Long). Amelia is another character who fans wanted nothing but the best for, as she quickly became a fan-favorite character. But unlike the rest of the Private Practice crew, her story didn’t end in Season 6, as she moved on to Grey’s Anatomy, where her story continues to this day.

Violet (Amy Brenneman) is forced to face a life without Pete after he dies suddenly in a surprising twist for the final season. The final season follows her as she attempts to rebuild her and Lucas’ (Jack & Joey Bobo) life, and struggles to do so. It’s a tragic arc for the character, but once again shows how unafraid Private Practice is to get into the tragedies and heartache that naturally come with life. Sam (Taye Digs) films a documentary-esque show about his life. He also reunites with Naomi when she returns to L.A. for Addison’s wedding. The pair have a seemingly innocent one-night-stand, but as it turns out, that one night resulted in Naomi getting pregnant, and by the end of the show, she and Sam decide to remarry, bringing everything full circle.


‘Grey’s Anatomy’: 10 Iconic Addison Montgomery Scenes Before Her Return

The Ruler of All That is Evil is coming back once more to show why she remains a fan-favorite.

In another large twist, it’s revealed that Charlotte (KaDee Strickland) is pregnant with triplets, which throws a bit of a wrench in her and Cooper’s (Paul Adelstein) life. Throughout the series, we quickly learn that Charlotte isn’t the most maternal person. She’s never had much desire to be a mother and never seemed to waiver in her decision, which was a storyline you didn’t often see for women at the time. It made the surprise addition of Cooper’s son Mason (Griffin Gluck) all the more intriguing. Through him, we saw a new side to Charlotte as she slowly embraced the boy into her life, and became a prominent mother figure to him. It’s one of the series’ best storylines, as heartbreaking as it was at times, and it set up her storyline in the final season perfectly.

With Pete’s sudden death, Charlotte has to work extra shifts at the hospital, so to put a pregnancy — let alone a triplet pregnancy — on top of that was a fascinating twist. She ends up on bed rest, which is the last thing she wants, and in the time she spends bedridden, we are treated to many cheesy dance sequences. They’re dream sequences of sorts, a way for Charlotte to escape the boredom of bedrest, and though they’re a little ridiculous, they certainly succeed in cracking a smile. It just proves even more how different Season 6 was.

‘Private Practice’ Became a Police Procedural In Its Final Season

Brian Benben as Sheldon Wallace in Private Practice
Image via ABC

One of the biggest storylines in Private Practice’s final season centers around Sheldon (Brian Benben), who is one of the show’s more underrated characters. In Season 6, Sheldon discovers he has prostate cancer, something he keeps a secret from his colleagues for much of the season. But it’s through this difficult time that he meets and falls in love with a woman named Miranda (Diane Farr). Miranda too has cancer, and though she’s initially hesitant to befriend Sheldon for fear of yet another friend dying in front of her, the pair inevitably fall in love and have a sweet romance. Sheldon’s storyline ends with him leaving the practice and traveling with Miranda as she reaches her last stretch of life. But as big of a storyline as this was for Sheldon, it wasn’t his main arc in Season 6.

Sheldon is a psychiatrist, so we often see his interactions with his patients, but Season 6 portrays one of his more dangerous patients in the form of Nick Calhoun (Carter MacIntyre), who was seeing Sheldon because he had pedophilic urges. Though Private Practice had previously dealt with some dark storylines, this was one of its more disturbing ones, made even more so when a little girl named Sarah (Kylie Rogers) goes missing from St. Ambrose Hospital. It becomes clear to Sheldon that Nick is the one who kidnapped her, and thus begins the season-long storyline of trying to find Sarah and bring her home safely. They are successful by the season’s end, and Sarah is brought home unharmed, but the storyline changed the show’s trajectory nonetheless. The arc was a complete 180 from the usual medical-based storylines and instead felt more like a season of Law & Order than Private Practice. It was still a good storyline, but tonally jarring.

Season 6 of Private Practice is wildly different from the seasons that preceded it, and yet it worked. Most shows, when closing out a series, opt for one or two consecutive storylines to tie things together. But Private Practice took a risk with Season 6, and it paid off greatly. Shonda Rhimes has always excelled at creating characters that audiences get attached to, so giving each character their moment to shine in the show’s final season was a brilliant approach to wraping up the show. And the final episode brought everyone together and everything full circle, leaving behind what is one of television’s better final seasons in its wake.

Private Practice is available to stream on Hulu in the U.S.



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