Grey’s Anatomy is the longest running scripted primetime ABC television show of all time. Ellen Pompeo is the highest-paid actress on television, banking twenty million dollars each season. Grey’s is poised to surpass ER as the longest primetime medical drama, as it waits for its sixteenth season renewal, and it has received thirty-eight Emmy Award nominations during the nearly two decades it has been on the air.
Meredith Grey has gone from a damaged intern having an affair with a resident and caring for her ailing mother to a widow with three children who runs the general surgery department at Seattle Grace. More characters have passed away on Grey’s Anatomy than most shows introduced during their entire runs, and the show is nearly unrecognizable now when compared to its first season because of its revolving cast of characters.
With twenty-nine principal cast members during its fifteen seasons, the writers of Grey’s Anatomy have so much history to contend with that maintaining continuity is an uphill battle that they often lose. As such, there are some details about our favorite dark and twisty surgeon at Seattle Grace that don’t make much sense at all. The confusion goes deeper than the debate on her hair color or who the next romantic lead of the show will be. Everything from her age to her internal motivations have been altered, forgotten and recreated during the show’s epically long run, and viewers are struggling to keep up.
Here are the 20 Things That Make No Sense About Meredith In Grey's Anatomy.
20 Her Half-Sisters
When a show has been on the air for nearly two decades, it’s understandable that a few plotlines may get recycled. After all, who’s really going to notice if four of the show’s leads are revealed to have massive tumors in a principal cast of over twenty-five characters?
However, it's hard to believe that Meredith Grey would have two half-sisters who she knew nothing about and that both of those women would come work as surgeons at her specific hospital in Seattle.
This is not even mentioning Lexie Grey’s questionable medical timeline – she started her medical internship program when most students are finishing their undergraduate studies – or Meredith conveniently forgetting her mother’s pregnancy before Maggie Pierce was born in the '80s.
19 She Doesn’t Contact Derek’s Sisters When He's About To Pass
Derek Shepard’s sisters were extremely important to him - so much so, that during the second episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Shepard explicitly states that if he were ever to be in a coma, he’d want all four of his sisters with him.
Meredith forgets this not-so-tiny detail when actually faced with a comatose Derek Shepard and takes him off of life support without giving his sisters a chance to say goodbye, including Amelia Shepard, who is her coworker and is easily reachable by phone. Meredith ignoring a key aspect of her husband’s personality, his love for his sisters, is more than an example of Meredith’s selfishness. It’s a lack of continuity and a disappointing, out of character oversight.
18 Getting Together With George
George O’Malley’s unrequited love for Meredith was well-chronicled during the show’s first season, enforcing the characters’ friendship, as O’Malley’s feelings for Meredith led him to provide emotional support when Derek Shepard chose to stay with his wife. Meredith never saw O’Malley as anything more than a friend, even after her break-up with Shepard.
Meredith getting together with O’Malley came from a desire to be wanted and treated well after Shepard had broken her trust, and O’Malley was clearly in denial about Meredith’s lack of interest. Still, it’s hard to believe that O’Malley would take advantage of Meredith in her vulnerable state or that Meredith would choose O’Malley as a physical rebound rather than an emotional one.
17 She Failed Her Intern Exam… And Still Became A Resident
The year 2007 was a rough one for Meredith Grey. Her stepmother passed away from a case of the hiccups, her father blamed her for the loss of his wife, her mom passed away, and she literally passed, and understandably, she cracked under pressure. Meredith didn’t answer a single question on her intern exam.
The logical next step here would have been to see Meredith repeat her intern year like George O’Malley does after failing that same exam.
Meredith would have been able to explore new dynamics with her peers while sorting through her many issues, and the show wouldn’t have to suffer through too drastic of a change. Instead, through some nepotism and a large suspension of disbelief, Meredith is allowed a do-over and breezes through to her residency, while poor O’Malley is given the short end of the stick yet again.
16 Her Inconsistent Pregnancies
After miscarrying her first child due to apparent stress from the Seattle Grace active shooter situation in season six, Meredith is told that the real reason for the loss of her child was actually a “hostile uterus.” Medically, in the real world, this means that it is difficult for a woman to become pregnant due to a variety of factors, including hormonal imbalances. It is treatable through synthetic estrogen or certain bypass techniques and does not necessarily cause miscarriages.
Meredith is able to conceive multiple times during the show, and she even manages to have a fairly normal pregnancy and gives birth to a healthy baby girl. A medical drama probably could have come up with a more realistic plotline for Meredith after writers’ decided that they wanted to complicate her family planning.
15 She Modeled Her Life After Ellis
After hating her mother, Ellis Grey, for most of her life, Meredith follows in her footsteps, as she becomes a mother while still chasing her medical aspirations. Meredith places the blame for her issues on her mother’s workaholic tendencies while raising her daughter, then still chooses to start her family just as her medical career is gaining momentum.
She falls in love with a married man, has his children, raises them alone, and wins a Harper Avery Award, just like her mother. Her professional life causes a rift in her relationship, like Ellis’ Harper Avery nomination leading to the termination of her relationship with Richard Weber. Instead of learning from her mother’s mistakes, Meredith has done something that she swore she’d never do: she has become Ellis.
14 Her First Marriage Wasn't Legal
In a touching display of friendship, Derek Shepherd and Meredith Grey gave their perfect wedding to their dear friends Alex Karev and Izzie Stevens so that the couple could be married before Stevens possibly succumbed to her advanced brain cancer.
Shepherd and Meredith then have their own, private marriage ceremony in the comfort of their own home, where they write their vows on Post-It notes and promise their lives to each other.
This was all romantic and dramatic, but why on Earth would they not bother going down to City Hall and legalizing the marriage at any point before they tried to adopt their daughter? They most likely already had a marriage license, and the tax benefits alone would have been incentive enough to go through with the final step of their marriage – actually getting married.
13 She Tried To Hold Derek Back
It isn’t easy having a family with two working parents. Nannies help, and Seattle Grace has shown its daycare center on Grey’s multiple times, but Meredith’s frustration with being a mother first and a surgeon second rang true as it was depicted onscreen. Asking Derek Shepherd to take a year off from his practice to give Meredith the opportunity to work was brave and fair, considering the time that she had taken off up until that point.
However, expecting Shepherd to turn down the opportunity of a lifetime at the White House was out of character and unreasonable. Shepherd staying at Seattle Grace meant accepting a demotion, while Meredith could have kept her seniority in DC. Staying behind without Shepherd ran contrary to Meredith’s character development, especially since she expected Shepherd to make himself smaller rather than thriving with him.
12 She Ran Away To San Diego
A large factor in Meredith’s reluctance to move to Washington D.C. came from a fear of airplanes that developed after the plane crash that ended the lives of multiple doctors at the end of season eight. This makes sense, considering the circumstances. What doesn't make sense, however, is how Meredith fled from Seattle to San Diego following her husband’s loss, telling no one of her location or her miracle pregnancy.
Her decision to choose Seattle over her husband indirectly lead to his passing, but once he’s gone, she immediately leaves. Her love for him wasn’t enough to keep her with him, but his loss was enough for her to ignore all of the reasons she had fought to stay. It’s confusing, upsetting, and utterly heartbreaking.
11 She Stayed At Seattle Grace
During season eight’s plane crash, Cristina Yang keeps asking why all of the doctors at Seattle Grace lose their lives. It was a tongue-in-cheek joke anticipating a question that all Grey’s viewers have at least once during the series. There are shootings, bombs, car crashes, drownings, a flood, a power outage, a bus explosion, and an earthquake during the twenty years that Meredith has worked at Seattle Grace.
At least fourteen doctors and family members have passed away under unusual circumstances at the hospital, filling it with horrible, PTSD-inducing memories.
Somehow, Meredith still works there. After losing parents, a sibling, a husband, best friends, and coworkers, she never thought to just go across town to the other, better-ranked hospital and leave a hospital that is so unlucky it might be on top of the Hellmouth.
10 She Still Has Her Medical License
In order to help Richard Webber’s wife Adele, Meredith enrolls her into her clinical trial for patients experiencing rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s. She tampers with the trial to give Adele the experimental drug rather than the placebo, even after Derek Shepherd's warnings that doing so would ruin both of their careers.
Of course, because this is Meredith Grey, once her wrongdoing was exposed, no one suffered any long-term consequences. Richard takes the fall for Meredith to protect her job, but neither one loses their medical license. Richard eventually becomes the head of the residency program, while Meredith is the head of general surgery. Shepard had no real backlash for being involved. Everyone was just fine and still eligible to perform surgeries in a respected hospital, somehow.
9 She Considered Herself The Other Woman
After learning that Derek Shepherd was a married man, Meredith halted her physical relationship with him, only being intimate with him one time after learning of his marital status. She legitimately felt guilt for unknowingly dating someone’s husband and didn’t actively try to home-wreck Addison Montgomery’s marriage.
Despite the fact that many of her actions during this complicated time were respectful of Montgomery and her marriage, she still bonded with Mark Sloan when they realized that they both considered themselves homewreckers. Meredith’s characterization centers around her “dark and twisty” tendencies, so her pessimistic framing of the situation would make sense in her own mind, but there’s logically little to support her enduring belief that her relationship with Shepard began with any wrongdoing on her part.
8 She Is Still Alive
Meredith’s self-destructive and occasionally life-threatening tendencies put her in many dangerous situations. She has nearly escaped passing away so many times that its statistically improbable that she would still be alive. Setting aside the fact that she briefly drowned while helping at a ferry boat crash site, Meredith’s life makes no sense because anyone else who’d had this many close calls would not longer be with us.
Meredith held a bomb inside of a patient’s body and barely handed it off before it exploded in the hands of the bomb technician.
She also had prolonged exposure to toxic blood, she drowned for a long time, she asked an active gunman to shoot her, and her plane crashed. Yet here she is, waiting for the next ridiculous trauma that life throws at her.
7 She Barely Talks To Cristina
Cristina Yang was Meredith’s person. More than a best friend, a husband, or a family member, Yang was the one person who Meredith always relied on and trusted. Since Yang left Seattle Grace for Switzerland, all we’ve really heard from her was that Meredith didn’t tell her where she had run away to after Derek Shepherd's car crash.
There was no confirmation that Yang came to Shepherd's funeral, as she didn’t stay with Meredith after his passing or visit her newborn child and nary a text has been sent between the two onscreen. Long-distance friendships are hard, but with modern technology like Skype, FaceTime and texting, completely dropping off of the face of the Earth is a cause for confusion.
6 She Gives Thatcher Part Of Her Liver
The last viewers had seen of Thatcher Grey, he had drunkenly, publicly blamed Meredith for his wife’s passing and uninvited her from the funeral. This comes after he abandoned her and started a shiny new family that allowed him to forget about the daughter he left behind.
Even if Thatcher treating Meredith horribly wasn’t enough to dissuade her from saving his life, a complicated position to navigate, Thatcher had multiple daughters and presumably many other family members. Even if Lexie and her sister weren’t matches, how was there no other family member able to donate their liver other than his estranged daughter? There’s no reason it should have been Meredith except as an opportunity to inflict more unnecessary pain on our protagonist.
5 She Had A Busy Two Years
Everything that happened over the first five seasons of Grey’s Anatomy occurred during a two year period. Because the intern year occurs during seasons one through three and Meredith’s first year of residency is seasons four and five, there are many plotlines that happen in a short timeframe.
Plotlines such as George’s marriage and divorce with Callie, Denny Duquette’s storyline with Izzie Stevens, and Christina’s doomed engagement to Preston Burke all happen over the course of less than twelve months.
Meredith and her friends have known each other for only two years by season six, and so much crazy drama has occur in the midst of eighty hour work weeks and eight hour surgeries that it’s almost like they could fill half a decade’s worth of life experience.
4 She's Always Drinking
Meredith drinks a lot of tequila for a doctor. While she’s shown abstaining from drinking while on-call, Meredith spends most of her down time getting drunk at Joe’s Bar or at home, and even had to be hooked up to an IV during a massive accident to sober herself up for work.
The state of near-constant hangover that she must be functioning in would make her workdays impossible, and the likelihood that she’s be called in during her downtime to work during a disaster situation at Seattle Grace, the grand mecca of disaster, is fairly high in the world of Grey’s Anatomy. How she manages to drink so often without a sponsorship from Pedialyte or AA is a mystery to us all.
3 Her Age
In the script for Grey’s pilot, Meredith is supposed to be thirty-two years old. After taking time off to travel through Europe with Sadie and to care for her ailing mother, it's understandable that Meredith would be older than the average medical intern. It’s clear that the Grey’s writing team put some thought into Meredith’s backstory in the early years of the show and realized that between taking the MCAT and helping Ellis, there’s no way that Meredith could have started her internship at the median age of twenty-seven.
Meredith’s birth year is confirmed as 1978 multiple times during the course of season eleven, retconning her initial age to be twenty-eight. The writers probably weren’t too concerned about continuity ten years after the fact, but Meredith’s original age made much more sense than her current one.
2 Her Disappearing Children
After a hullaballoo regarding who should watch the children and how to be an active parent and a surgeon, Meredith’s children have completely disappeared from the show after Derek Shepherd's passing. The children are occasionally referenced, but haven’t been shown in the hospital daycare, her home, or her carpool.
Her children have become an afterthought, despite the fact that they were the main source of conflict between Shepard and herself before he passed away.
Some of these children should be starting school, while others are still in infancy, but having Meredith completely forget that she chose to give birth and adopt multiple children erases multiple seasons of character development geared towards family and motherhood.
1 She Has Gone Through An Improbable Amount Of Trauma
As mentioned multiple times, nothing seems to go right for long in the life of Meredith Grey. Meredith's mother passes away while Meredith was unconscious, she lost her husband, her boyfriend had a wife, she nearly passed away multiple times, she couldn't have children, and everyone she knows left or passed away.
Every aspect of her life, from family to spouses to friends, ends with a major trauma and loss. She’s still continuing on with her life and career, while most people would be deep in therapy and rarely leaving their homes if faced with the same amount of sorrow. Meredith is a strong woman, but what she has been through could drive even the most optimistic individual to depression.
Are there any other aspects of Meredith's character that make no sense in Grey's Anatomy? Sound off in the comments!