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By George, the old O'Malley will be missed

I'll miss Dr. George O'Malley on "Grey's Anatomy." And yet, I won't miss Dr. George O'Malley on "Grey's Anatomy."

By George, the old O'Malley will be missed.

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello revealed Wednesday that actor T.R. Knight won't be returning to the ABC medical drama. I suspect my divided feelings about this are shared by many "Grey's" fans, for a very simple reason. The George O'Malley who ended up disfigured and possibly dying on the show's season finale hadn't been the original George O'Malley for quite some time.

Remember back when the show started? George was kind of a puppy-dog character. He was the guy friend that all the show's beautiful women turned to instinctively, yet when he became romantically involved with them, it was always a disaster. Who doesn't know someone like that?

Part of George's charm was that he made mistakes. In romance, in friendship, and also, professionally. He was dubbed "007" for his "license to kill" when he choked while performing surgery. Later in the third season, he failed his intern exams and had to go through the mortification of repeating the internship while his friends all moved on.

One of my favorite George plots involved his family. The O'Malleys weren't used that much on the show, but they lit up the screen whenever they appeared. Unlike Meredith's wrenching family life, with an Alzheimer's-stricken mother who never seemed to care for her and a father who started a new family without her, George came from a close-knit group. His brothers, Jerry and Ronny, teased him like crazy, but it was revealed that they respected him as the family hope, the one smart boy who was making good. His dad, played by the delightful George Dzundza, was always entertaining, and his death felt more wrenching than most losses on "Grey's."

Despite a strong start, George's plotlines wavered and stumbled. First he slept with Meredith, his big crush -- what was that about? Then he ran off with Callie Torres, a plot that seemed to exist mostly so she could refer to herself as "Callie O'Malley." But the Callie relationship was a hundred times better than the real disaster, the George-Izzie love affair, dubbed "Gizzie" by viewers. While I could buy that George and Callie found comfort in each other, George and Izzie never rang true as a couple to me, and from then on, Knight's character was just kind of lost. Even his dramatic (presumed) death scene felt cribbed from that "ER" episode where Dennis Gant's beeper goes off and the other doctors realize the mangled body on their table is their co-worker and friend.

Show creator Shonda Rhimes told Ausiello that she intentionally cut back on George's plotlines in this last season to make her final-episode twist work. Her theory is supposedly that fans were used to not seeing George, so when he didn't show up much in the episode, no one would make the leap that he was the disfigured John Doe who saved a woman from death by bus.

Yeah, I'm not buying it. If George's character had been as integral a part of the show as, say, Sandra Oh's Cristina, there's no way his role would have been cut back for a shocking twist. It's sad that a character with so much promise ended up fizzling out. I'd say I'll miss him, but I've already been missing him for several seasons now.

Should "Grey's Anatomy" have killed off George? And what should happen to his fellow dying doctor, Izzie? Share your thoughts in the comments.