Thirteen seasons later, a lot has happened to Dr. Meredith Grey, the central character in Grey’s Anatomy.
Brought to life by Ellen Pompeo’s acting and Shona Rhimes’ writing, Meredith Grey is a beloved character who has, in many ways, changed the way female protagonists are portrayed on broadcast television. She is a mother of three who is not just defined by motherhood. She was a wife who wasn’t just defined by marriage. She is a full, complex, flawed person who loves her profession and is always there for her family, patients, and friends.
In thirteen years, we’ve seen Meredith mature, change, make mistakes, and go through the highest ups and the lowest downs. From a surgical intern, she went on to become a resident, an attending, and eventually the Chief of General Surgery.
Along the way, Meredith lost many loved ones, but kept believing in her purpose and profession. She loved a very difficult mom, turned a one-night stand into a husband, and performed some of the most miraculous medical procedures ever seen on a (fictional) TV series. But while there is nothing Meredith Grey can’t do, there is also seemingly nothing that can’t happen to her.
TGIT fans, rejoice! These are the 15 Worst Things That Happened To Meredith Grey.
15 FOUND OUT THAT DEREK WAS MARRIED
While it is safe to say that Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd’s romantic journey in Grey’s Anatomy is one of the most popular original love stories on television of the 21st century (so far), things weren’t always that great between those two.
As a matter of fact, when Meredith began to be interested in Derek, the awkwardness between the two was simply due to the fact that she was an intern at a hospital where he was already a surgeon – which complicates things on a professional level. However, there was much more to Derek’s story, and it was discovered during the first season’s finale episode (titled “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?”) that he also had an estranged wife of many years, Addison Montgomery.
Meredith, while infatuated by Derek, aka McDreamy, had to deal with the fact that their fling was an actual full-fledged affair.
14 BRUTALLY ATTACKED BY A PATIENT
Episode 9 of season 12 – “The Sound of Silence” – was a pretty dangerous and intense moment in Meredith Grey’s life. A car accident happens and the people involved in the situation are rushed to the hospital where Grey’s Anatomy takes place. The doctors are divided to treat individual people, and Meredith is assigned to treat an injured patient called Lou, with whom she is left alone.
Due to something called "post-seizure hyper-aggression", the patient becomes very angry and attacks Meredith to the point of leaving her nearly unconscious on the floor. Her co-workers (and friends) eventually find her and unite to tend to her multiple injuries, which are bad to the point of leaving Meredith unable to speak for a while.
Fun fact: this episode was directed by the legendary Denzel Washington. It was his first and only time directing Grey’s Anatomy.
13 UNKNOWINGLY OPERATED ON A FRIEND, THEN HE DIED
George O’Malley was one of the original Grey’s Anatomy characters right from the pilot episode, “A Hard Day’s Night”. After he suddenly decided to join the army during the show’s fifth season, however, his fate was changed abruptly once again: on episode 24 of that season, called “Now Or Never”, a disfigured and unrecognizable George (due to being run over by a bus) is treated by Meredith at the hospital, but dies.
George’s death was, evidently, hard on everybody, including Meredith. Most of the season 6 premiere episode (“Good Mourning”) was about the general feeling of devastation following the revelation that the John Doe patient was actually indeed George, and that he died while being treated by his co-workers.
Most notably, fans of Grey’s Anatomy had very mixed feelings in regards to George’s death.
12 HER FATHER BLAMED HER FOR HER STEPMOTHER’S DEATH
Susan Grey, Meredith’s stepmother, goes back and forth to the hospital with hiccups, but is continually sent back home as the matter does not seem to be too serious. As she comes back once again feeling a sudden chest pain, she is rushed to surgery, but eventually dies. This takes place on during season 3 episodes 22 and 23 – the two-part “The Other Side Of This Life” event.
Thatcher Grey, Meredith’s father and Susan’s husband, becomes devastated by the loss of his wife, and proceeds to blame Meredith and slap her. Their father-daughter relationship, which was already pretty strained by that point, only becomes even more difficult.
At the day of Susan’s funeral, a drunk Thatcher paid Meredith a visit at the hospital, and told her to avoid attending her stepmother’s funeral.
11 DEREK MOVED TO WASHINGTON D.C.
The last two episodes of Grey’s Anatomy’s season 10 – “Everything I Try To Do, Nothing Seems To Turn Out Right” and “Fear (Of The Unknown)” – circled around the fact that Derek received an offer to work at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. and decided to take the job and move. As Meredith put her foot down and refused to move with him, their marriage was suddenly in a really bad shape.
Most of Meredith’s story in season 11 is about her dealing with Derek’s months-long absence. Things get ugly to the point where she becomes convinced that he has cheated on her. The couple later figures out their situation and Derek decides to take one last trip to D.C. to wrap things up and come back to Seattle, but tragedy soon strikes...
10 FORCED TO WORK WITH THE DOCTOR RESPONSIBLE FOR DEREK'S DEATH
Penelope Blake, or Penny, was introduced to Grey’s Anatomy on episode 21 of season 11, titled “How To Save A Life”, as one of the doctors responsible for Derek Shepherd’s death. Cut to season 12’s fourth episode, “Old Time Rock And Roll”, and Penny was reintroduced to Grey’s Anatomy as Callie Torres’ new girlfriend and Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital’s new resident doctor.
Throughout all of season 12, it was very hard for Meredith to get used to having Penny around. Seeing her face every day reminded Meredith of the people who mishandled her now-deceased husband on the operating table. Their relationship did get slightly better with time, but it certainly also helped that Penny left with Callie to New York before season 12 even properly ended.
9 CRISTINA YANG LEFT
Cristina Yang was a fan favorite and Meredith’s “person,” which means that her leaving was extremely hard for everyone to deal with, and certainly just as difficult for Meredith as the death of a loved one.
Season 10 episode 24 – “Fear (Of The Unknown)” – featured Cristina’s departure. The character moves out of the country to Zurich, Germany, with Shane Ross. Many Grey’s Anatomy fans feared that Cristina would be killed off (like so many other characters), but her last scene in the series was actually with Meredith, dancing, which turned out to be an incredibly emotional and fitting farewell moment.
It was so hard for Meredith to lose her “person” that, when Maggie Pierce became Cristina’s substitute (as the new cardiothoracic surgeon), the two of them clashed in multiple occasions for reasons that were honestly not even that serious.
8 HER MOTHER HAD ALZHEIMER’S
Meredith went through a lot with her mother, Ellis Grey, a legendary doctor who started to suffer from Alzheimer’s just as Meredith was starting out her internship at the hospital (which was the beginning of Grey’s Anatomy as a series).
While living at the Roseridge Home for Extended Care, Ellis was often convinced that she was still going through her residency, and that Meredith was a friend of hers from college. It was hard on Meredith to not be recognized by her own mother just as she was dealing with the pressure of starting a new job. She also couldn’t count on Ellis, though she was a renowned doctor, for any tips on how to be better at work.
By the fifth episode (“Shake Your Groove Thing”) of the show’s first season, Ellis’ condition became much worse and everything she owned had to be signed over to Meredith.
7 DEREK GOT SHOT, THEN MEREDITH HAD A MISCARRIAGE
Meredith and Derek have gone through a lot (together and separately), and one of the worst situations they’ve gone through was when he got shot. The hospital in Grey’s Anatomy was invaded by a shooter (called Gary Clark), on season 6 episode 23 (“Sanctuary”), and the event went on until episode 24 (“Death And All His Friends”), which was also the season finale.
Derek is shot by Gary Clark just as Meredith has found out that she is pregnant. As Derek is being treated, Meredith is convinced that he is going to die, and ends up having a miscarriage. It is only during the second episode of season 7 (“Shock To The System”) that Meredith tells Derek about her miscarriage. It is also when she is finally cleared to go back to work.
6 HER MOTHER TRIED TO COMMIT SUICIDE
Though Ellis was married to Thatcher Grey, she had an affair with fellow doctor Richard Webber in the 1980s, and as that didn’t work out and Richard left, Ellis tried to commit suicide.
The problem is that Ellis, in a desperate cry for love and attention, tried to commit suicide right in front of her daughter, Meredith, who was only a little girl at the time. Ellis told Meredith to not call 911 and bled out right in front of her daughter. As she passed out, Meredith wisely called 911, and ultimately ended up saving her mother’s life.
It was not too long after this incident that Ellis found herself pregnant with Richard’s child, Maggie, and decided to move to Boston with Meredith to hide. After Maggie was given up for adoption, Ellis and Meredith finally started to make a life for themselves in the new city.
5 SHE WENT THROUGH ANOTHER AIRPLANE INCIDENT
There was a first – and much more terrible – airplane incident in Grey’s Anatomy (more on that later), but nonetheless, the second airplane incident was also quite worrisome.
It happened on episode 20 of season 13, titled “In The Air Tonight”, where unbeknownst to both parties, Meredith Grey and Nathan Riggs ended up on the same flight going to the same conference. While that in itself was already pretty awkward as Meredith was trying to avoid Nathan’s charming advances on her, the flight had major turbulence and several people needed medical assistance on board. It was certainly not easy to treat people on a trembling airplane going through heavy turbulence.
Thankfully, the plane did not crash and no one actually died. If anything, it just brought Meredith and Nathan closer together, even if she had to relive extremely painful memories of the first airplane incident she was involved in.
4 NATHAN’S WIFE WAS FOUND ALIVE
Just as Meredith finally gave into the fact that she was falling for Nathan and realized that their relationship deserved a chance, a very Grey’s Anatomy plot-twist took place: Nathan’s wife, gone missing for ten years, has been found alive.
While Meredith was apparently happy for Nathan and expressed how great it would feel if she found out that there was a way to have Derek back from the dead, it was still a quite awful situation for her to go through.
For a very long time, Meredith found several reasons to fight back against her feelings for Nathan. Then, just as she was starting to seemingly move on from Derek and give Nathan a chance, his (by all accounts deceased) wife was found alive.
3 THE INFAMOUS AIRPLANE INCIDENT
The infamous airplane incident took place in the Grey’s Anatomy season 8 finale, called “Flight”. Involved in the airplane crash, among other people, were Meredith Grey, her half-sister Lexie Grey, her husband Derek Shepherd, and her co-workers Cristina Yang, Arizona Robbins, and Mark Sloan.
If being involved in an airplane crash wasn’t already bad enough, Meredith was pretty much the only doctor who was left mostly unscathed, and therefore had to tend to Arizona’s broken femur, Cristina’s dislocated arm, and Mark’s internal injuries. The pilot, Jerry, also had major spine damage. To top it all off: Lexie was seemingly crushed under the airplane, and Derek was missing.
By the end of “Flight”, Derek was indeed found, but Lexie died holding Mark’s hand. Losing a half-sister, just as they were starting to really bond, left Meredith devastated.
2 DEREK DIED
Arguably the most horrifying thing that ever happened to a conscious Meredith Grey was to lose Derek for good. Sure, he temporarily disappeared during the airplane incident and was shot when a loose shooter invaded the hospital, but nothing was harder on Meredith than Derek’s actual death, which took place during season 11 episode 21, “How To Save A Life.”
As previously mentioned, Derek died in the midst of giving up his job in Washington, D.C. in order to move back to Seattle and save his marriage with Meredith. In between those events, however, he tried to assist people who were involved in a car accident, but was fatally hit with the car’s explosion. Doctors attempted to save Derek, but ultimately mishandled him and were unable to stop his death.
The last actual Grey’s Anatomy episode Derek was featured in, however, was the season 11 finale, titled “You’re My Home.”
1 SHE (TEMPORARILY) DIED
On season 3 episode 16, “Drowning On Dry Land”, Meredith is shown sinking underwater while she and a few co-workers were tending to a ferry boat incident. Between this episode and the next, “Some Kind Of Miracle”, Meredith actually temporarily died and was seen experiencing an afterlife, out of body-like moment.
She is eventually brought back to life by a team of doctors who work on her, but Grey’s Anatomy genuinely made fans question if this was the end of the series’ protagonist.
Though it was hard to see her mother commit suicide, face Alzheimer’s, and die, and while it was horrible to experience her husband being shot, disappearing during an airplane crash, and eventually dying… nothing can be considered worse for Meredith than when she actually temporarily died herself.
What are other horrible things that happened to Meredith during Grey's Anatomy? Do you think that some of these moments were actually not that bad? Let us know in the comments below!