|Grey's Anatomy character|
|First appearance||"A Hard Day's Night"
1x01, March 27, 2005
|Created by||Shonda Rhimes|
|Portrayed by||Ellen Pompeo (adult)
Nicolette Collier (young)
Claire Geare (age 3)
Aria Leabu (Season 11 flashbacks)
|Occupation||Attending general surgeon at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital|
|Family||Ellis Grey (mother)
Thatcher Grey (father)
Lexie Grey (paternal half-sister)
Molly Thompson (paternal half-sister)
Margaret "Maggie" Pierce (maternal half-sister)
Laura Thompson (paternal half-niece)
|Significant other(s)||Finn Dandridge
|Children||Zola Grey Shepherd (daughter, with Derek)
Derek Bailey Shepherd (son, with Derek)
Meredith Grey, M.D. is a fictional character from the medical drama television series Grey's Anatomy, which airs on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in the United States. The character was created by series' producer Shonda Rhimes, and is portrayed by actress Ellen Pompeo. Meredith is the series' protagonist, and was introduced as a surgical intern at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital (later Seattle Grace-Mercy West Hospital, and now Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital), eventually obtaining the position of resident, and later attending. As the daughter of world-renowned surgeon Ellis Grey, Meredith struggles with the everyday life of being an attending, maintaining the relationship with her one-night stand and eventual husband Derek Shepherd, her new-found motherhood, and the friendships with her colleagues.
Meredith is the narrator of the show and serves as the focal point for most episodes. Pompeo's connection with Patrick Dempsey (Derek Shepherd) is acclaimed as a high point of the series. Rhimes has characterized Meredith as not believing in good or bad, but doing what she thinks is right. Pompeo has been nominated for several awards, winning many of them, for her performance on the show. Grey has been positively received by television critics, with Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times referring to her as "the heroine of Grey's Anatomy". News of Pompeo leaving arose when it was made clear that her contract ended after the eighth season. Speculation occurred again when Rhimes reported that Grey's Anatomy will be returning for a ninth season. TVLine reported that Ellen Pompeo has signed on for two more years, along with her fellow cast members.
Dr. Meredith Grey is the daughter of world-renowned surgeon Ellis Grey, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College. The night before Grey's internship begins, she has a one-night stand with Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), a stranger she meets at a bar. She discovers the next day that he is an attending neurosurgeon at her new workplace, Seattle Grace Hospital. Grey is assigned to work under resident Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), and befriends her fellow interns, George O'Malley (T.R. Knight), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers). Grey initially resists Shepherd's advances, but they eventually begin a relationship. She is surprised by the arrival of Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh), Shepherd's wife, having been unaware that he was married. Shepherd struggles to choose between the two, but ultimately returns to Montgomery. Grey is devastated and turns to searching for her father, Thatcher, though their brief reunion fails to give her any closure regarding her childhood. She learns that her father re-married and had two more daughters, which is why he never fought for her. Grey has a series of one-night-stands, including one with O'Malley, who is in love with her. When she cries in the middle of their encounter, their friendship temporarily ends. Grey embarks on a relationship with veterinarian Finn Dandridge (Chris O'Donnell), but it comes to a close when she reunites with Shepherd.
Her mother experiences a completely lucid day, and expresses her great disappointment at how ordinary Grey has turned out to be. Following a ferryboat accident, Grey is knocked into the water and has to be rescued by Shepherd. She flatlines at the hospital, and awakens in an "afterlife", where she interacts with deceased former acquaintances. Ellis dies in the interim, and Grey meets with her mother, who tells her that she is anything but ordinary and urges her to wake up. Grey is subsequently resuscitated. She is promoted to a resident, as her half-sister Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh), begins working at Seattle Grace Hospital as an intern. Grey initially rejects Lexie's attempts to form a relationship, but slowly softens towards her. Shepherd pushes Grey to make a greater commitment to their relationship than she feels able to, and the two break up once more. He begins dating a nurse, Rose, and Grey sees a therapist, Dr. Wyatt (Amy Madigan), to seek happiness. She initiates a neurosurgical clinical trial, enlisting Shepherd as a consulting neurosurgeon. The trial fails repeatedly, but the final patient they treat survives, which leads them to reuniting and moving in together. When Stevens is diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma, Grey convinces Shepherd to operate on her. He agrees to perform the surgery, and later proposes to Grey in the hospital elevator. Stevens begins to plan the perfect wedding for a reluctant Grey, but when, on their wedding day, Shepherd discovers that Stevens has a second brain tumor, the couple let her and Karev marry instead.
Grey and Shepherd marry by writing their wedding vows on a post-it note. Having become a heavy drinker following Susan's death, Thatcher experiences liver failure. For Lexie's sake, Grey agrees to donate part of her liver to him. Thereafter, she discovers she is pregnant soon before a hospital shooting, endangering Shepherd. In the midst of the crisis, Grey miscarries the baby. She learns that she has a "hostile uterus", which leads her to consider her other possible genetic flaws. Shepherd, worried about the possibility that she will develop Alzheimer's, initiates a clinical trial hoping to cure the disease. Grey opts to work on the trial, with Shepherd. When the chief of surgery, Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.)'s wife, Adele, is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, she receives a spot on Shepherd's trial. Grey tampers with the drugs so that Adele does not receive the placebo. She and Shepherd decide to adopt Zola, an orphaned baby from Malawi, and make their marriage official. When the truth about Grey's tampering comes out, however, a furious Shepherd tells her he cannot raise a child with her. Grey is fired, and tries to conceal both this and her marital separation from the adoption counselor. Although Webber steps down as chief of surgery and takes the blame for the trial tampering to protect Grey, Zola is taken away. She and Shepherd reconcile and fight to get Zola back, eventually having her returned to them. As her last year of residency is coming to a close, the residents travel around the country, searching for the best jobs in their specialties. In order to finish their residency, the residents must take the medical boards, and Grey passes them successfully. She decides to take a job offer at The Brigham and Women's Hospital, and is subsequently involved in an aviation accident, killing Lexie, and leaving her and her co-workers stranded.
Following their rescue, Grey becomes an attending general surgeon at Seattle Grace Mercy West. Her newfound attitude leads to her being dubbed "Medusa" by the hospital's new interns. In mid-season, Grey becomes pregnant for the second time. In the aftermath of the plane accident, the hospital is sued and eventually found guilty of negligence. Each victim including Shepherd, Yang, Robbins and herself must receive $15 million of compensation, which leads the hospital to a near bankruptcy as the insurances refuse to pay. Those doctors and Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) buy the hospital with the help of the Harper-Avery Foundation to prevent it from closing, and each become members of the new directing board. She asks Bailey to perform gene mapping on her to finally know whether she has Alzheimer's genes like her mother or not and she tests positive for more than one of the genetic markers for the disease.
During this time, Meredith discovers she is pregnant again and she gives birth to a son. The baby is delivered via C-section during a storm because it was not in the correct position. While stitching Meredith up, the obstetrician who operated on Meredith is called away to another patient and intern Shane Ross completes the stitching. When blood begins to appear from everywhere, Meredith diagnoses herself in as being in DIC. Bailey performs a spleen removal, which saves Meredith's life. In return, Derek and Meredith name their son Bailey.
Having given birth and having two kids at home Meredith is torn between being a great surgeon and a great mother citing multiple times "I don't want to become my mother". This causes a rift between her and Cristina as Meredith is no longer up on the current evidence to support clinical judgement. Derek agrees that he would step back from surgery and take care of the kids more and let Meredith shine. Meredith is called to make a decision about Richard's care as he named her as POA after he was electrocuted during the storm. Meredith currently takes up a research study that includes 3D-printing a portal vein. Meredith and Cristina, still not seeing eye to eye, continue to argue and keep their distance from each other until Cristina approaches Meredith at April's wedding saying that she's doing all of it alone while Meredith has a husband and kids to support her. Meredith admits of being jealous of Cristina because she has become what they both set out to be (great surgeons) and nothing but time and focus to dedicate to surgery. They realize that they are becoming different people and growing apart. Cristina later decides she has to depart Seattle. Meredith and Derek's relationship begins to struggle again when Derek goes to Washington DC to meet with the president in taking on a clinical trail. He comes back to Seattle with a chance to work in the National Institutes of Health in Washington DC and has found Meredith work in James Madison Hospital. Meredith is upset because she has built a life in Seattle and a family and doesn't want to move.
Meredith also helps Cristina write her Harper Avery speech and is there when she loses. Having struggled to come to terms with it, she finally accepts that her best friend is going to moving across the globe. They say goodbye and dance it out one last time. Cristina says to Meredith that "Don't let what [Derek] wants eclipse what you need. He's very dreamy, but he is not the sun. You are". Derek later decide to stay in Seattle with his family. Unbeknownst to Meredith, a plausible half-sister, a daughter of Ellis and Richard, starts working at Grey Sloan Memorial.
Meredith finds out she has a half sister called Maggie Pierce who is now working in Grey Sloan Memorial. Meredith thinks she would have remembered if her mother was pregnant and thinks Maggie is lying until she finds a hospital document confirming the revelation. Meredith tries to piece together her relationship with her mother and half sister by going through old videos of her and her mother. She eventually recovers her repressed memories of the pregnancy when she's views her mother's diary and has a change of heart, choosing to accept her and begin building a relationship. While her relationship with her grows, her relationship with Derek stalls because he constantly keeps telling her he gave up a chance in Washington DC to stay with her and later confesses to Amelia he feels drained from the focus he has to give on his family. Meredith later tells him to go to Washington DC and they part ways, with her being left with the children alone.
Casting and creation
Pompeo discovered Grey's Anatomy after a year of doing nothing but reading scripts looking for the project that suited her best. While casting actresses for the part of Meredith Grey, series' creator Shonda Rhimes said: "I kept saying we need a girl like that girl from Moonlight Mile, and after a while, they were like, 'We think we can get that girl from Moonlight Mile.' I spent time with her and got to know her, and then we started casting for the men." She reported that Grey was not an easy role to cast. Rhimes was informed that the actress in question was Pompeo, who had a deal in place with ABC, having previously tested for a pilot show on the network. It has been speculated that Pompeo was the first character to be cast, but when asked, she said she did not know of this. When asked of how she created Pompeo's character, Rhimes said:
|“||"[I was] in my pajamas at home, which is where I spent a lot of time writing. I kept asking myself, 'What kind of woman should the heroine be?' I thought she should be someone who had made some big mistakes. As it turns out, Meredith also has another problem: She is trying to live up to her mother's renowned career in surgery. Meredith is the daughter of a mother who basically never spent any time with her—the daughter of a mother who now has Alzheimer's and doesn't even remember her."||”|
Pompeo was cast as the program's titular character, described by Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times as "a prickly, independent sort whose ambition, and ambivalence, is fueled by the fact that her mother was a gifted surgeon and now suffers from Alzheimer's." Grey also serves as the show's narrator, and as such was likened in early reviews to Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), the narrator and protagonist of Sex and the City. After her initial contract with Grey's Anatomy expired, Pompeo negotiated a new one, in which she would be paid US$200,000 per episode, making her the highest-paid cast member on the show. In 2012, Forbes recognized Pompeo as the eighth highest-paid actress on television, with a salary of US$275,000 per episode for her role on Grey's Anatomy.
Pompeo's second contract with Grey's Anatomy expired after the eighth season, and speculation arose that she would be leaving after this. In September 2011, Pompeo reported that she is open to the idea of extending her contract, if invited. She told TV Guide: "I would never turn up my nose at [Grey's Anatomy]. As long as the stories are honest and truthful, and Patrick [Dempsey] and I feel there is material for us to be passionate about, it still beats a 9-to-5 job any day. If I hear from the fans that they want us to keep going, then I would continue because we owe them everything." E! Online reported in May 2012, that Pompeo, as well as all original cast members have signed on for two more years. With the Huffington Post 's announcement of season nine having officially been renewed, the contract is set into place for Pompeo to return.
Grey is the protagonist and focal point of the series. She has been called "intelligent, compassionate, hard-working, oftentimes outspoken, easily distracted, and indecisive" by Grey's Anatomy executives. Pompeo says she is unaware if her character knows how to have fun, adding: "All of my scenes with [Dempsey] are the same—we're either breaking up or having sex." Her personality has evolved over the past few seasons from depressed, to happy and "fixed". Pompeo said to Good Morning America, "I am so incredibly lucky to have Patrick [Dempsey], to have the chemistry that we do, we have an amazing relationship, and it's like any other relationship, you have your ups and downs. But we work it out, and we've found a way to do this for this long and still get along, and make it work and believe in what we're doing." Pompeo told Entertainment Weekly: "It's awkward with Patrick [Dempsey] because he's like my brother. As soon as the camera is off, I'm like, 'Is your hand on my butt?' But there are millions of girls who have been waiting for this, so I feel an obligation to the fans." Rhimes used the dog "Doc", which Meredith and Derek shared, as a metaphor of their relationship during the second season. She characterizes Grey as doing what she thinks is right:
|“||Meredith is the girl who put her hand on a bomb in a body cavity. Meredith is the girl who tried to help a serial killer kill himself, so that he could donate his organs. Meredith—and this is obvious—has a compass that has always led her to shades of grey. She does not believe in black-and-white, she does not believe in good or bad, she does what she thinks is right.||”|
The character had a one-night stand with George O'Malley, in the second season. Series writer Stacy McKee, said of the sexual encounter: "There’s no turning back. There’s nothing George and Meredith can do. The damage is done – things will never be the same. They’ve just changed something important in their lives FOREVER and…they are freaking out." Grey's character development has also been known as an influence on the creation of her half-sister, Lexie Grey. Particularly, it has been made clear that they both share the same motives. McKee offered her thoughts: "Meredith and Lexie both want to succeed. They want to be strong. They want to feel normal. They want, so much, to be whole. But it’s a struggle – a genuine struggle for them. Being hardcore doesn’t come naturally. Sometimes, they have to fake it." Grey's personality has been compared with that of Alex Karev's. Rhimes offered the insight:
"I like to create moments for him and Meredith. Because, in my head, they are very similar people. Even though Karev can be such an ass, even though he’s arrogant, even though he gave O'Malley the Syph. He and Meredith are both lost, both lonely, both former screw-ups who got their acts together. In another lifetime, they would be really good friends. So throughout the season, we watch them pause from time to time to look at each other and see that they are mirrors of one another.—Shonda Rhimes, Grey Matter
Pompeo fights for a truthful storyline for her character—she wants it to be realistic and says you can't always wrap it up in a neat little package. Referring to Grey's tampering with Shepherd's trial, Pompeo said: "Listen, what Meredith did clearly crossed a line. Derek has a right to be pissed." Following the tampering, Rhimes said she believes that Grey and Shepherd are meant to be together and that it in the end, they will end up with each other. Grey's relationship with Cristina Yang, has been looked upon as "sisterhood", and Yang has repeatedly referred to Grey as "her person". This led to the two being dubbed "the twisted sisters". At the conclusion of season three, the duo went on a "honeymoon" together, and Rhimes called it her favorite detail of the finale. Grey has been characterized, by some, as "whiny". Rhimes offered her insight:
|“||I've heard a lot of talk about Meredith being whiny but the truth is, she's got a mom [who died of] Alzheimer's, no other family to speak of, and the man she loves is married. She's pretty freaking lonely, people. She's got a right to get her whine on. So, when she falters, it's partly because she's got nothing to hang on to. As she says in the first episode, she needs a reason to go on, she needs some hope.||”|
Rhimes felt that the 100th episode showed well Meredith's evolution throughout the show from a "dark and twisty girl" to a "happy woman". She said: "She is the thing her mother wished for her. She is extraordinary. Because, to get past the crap of your past? To move on? To let the past go and change? That is extraordinary. To love? Without fear? Without screwing it up? That is extraordinary. It makes me happy to see her happy."
The character has received mixed to positive reviews from television critics. Grey has constantly been defined as "the heroine of Grey's Anatomy". Ellen A. Kim of Amazon said the show overdosed on her "overly simplistic" voice overs. After Pompeo not receiving an Emmy nomination for her work as Grey, McNamara of the Los Angeles Times suggested that Pompeo, "who has worked very hard and against all narrative odds to make Meredith Grey an interesting character at last" should have received a nomination at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards. Entertainment Weekly 's Tanner Stransky referred to Grey as the "trusty voice over master" of Grey's Anatomy. Former television columnist for The Star-Ledger Alan Sepinwall expressed his boredom on the focus given on Grey's relationships storylines while reviewing the second season's finale: "On those occasions when Meredith's not involved in a plot about her love life, I do kind of like her, but those moments are so infrequent compared to her constant angsting over McDreamy -- not to mention all those seemingly unrelated storylines that always turn into a metaphor for that relationship -- that I really, really can't stand her." During the show's third season, the development of the character received negative reviews, with Cristopher Monfette of IGN stating that her storyline has become "some bizarrely under-developed sub-plot about depression and giving Derek a season's worth of reconsidering to do." Also during the third season, Robert Rorke of the New York Post noted the decline in Meredith's role in the show, expressing disappointment: "She used to be the queen of the romantic dilemmas, but lately, she's been a little dopey, what with the endless McDreamy soliloquies." Similarly, Macleans.ca found their storyline in the fourth season overused, "This whole 'Oh I need more time,' but 'Oh, I'm jealous if you look at someone else' angst was tired in the second season, frustrating in the third and now a total channel changer. The will-they-or-won't-they plot doesn't work because they've already been in and out of that relationship too many times. Meredith is a nag and McDreamy is henpecked." On a more positive note, her relationship with Shepherd was included in AOL TV's list of the "Best TV Couples of All Time" and in the same list by TV Guide. Reviewing the first part of the eighth season, TV Fanatic wrote: "this season belongs to Meredith Grey. She is the heart and soul of the show and has been outstanding. This is a character that used to be so dark and twisty and has now grown into a more mature woman. Ellen Pompeo has been at the top of her game this season."
Pompeo has been nominated for multiple awards for her portrayal of Grey. She and the Grey's Anatomy cast won Best Ensemble in a Television Series at the 2006 Satellite Awards. During the following year's ceremony, she was named Best Actress in a Television Drama Series. She was among the Grey's Anatomy cast members awarded the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series accolade at the 13th Screen Actors Guild Awards, and received nominations in the same category in 2006 and 2008. Pompeo received a Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama Series nomination at the 64th Golden Globe Awards – the program won Best Drama Series at the same ceremony. Also in 2007, Pompeo and the female cast and crew of Grey's Anatomy received the Women in Film Lucy Award, which honors those "whose work in television has positively influenced attitudes toward women." Her performance has garnered two People's Choice Award nominations. At the 37th People's Choice Awards, she was nominated against Dempsey and Oh in the Favorite TV Doctor category, and the following year, she was a contender in the Favorite TV Drama Actress category. In 2007, show-business awards reporter Tom O'Neil commented that Pompeo was overdue an Emmy Award nomination for her role in Grey's Anatomy. Readers of O'Neil's awards website, The Envelope, included Pompeo in their 2009 nominations for Best Drama Actress in the site's Gold Derby TV Awards. Entertainment Weekly launched the EWwy Awards in 2008, to honor actors who have not received Emmy nominations. Pompeo was nominated in the Best Actress in a Drama Series category, and placed fourth, with 19 percent of readers' votes.
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