Since its inception in 2005, Grey’s Anatomy was nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster. The show – which follows the ups and downs of a group of Seattle surgeons – was recently renewed for an impressive 19th season. For nearly two decades, fans have laughed, cried and shared the heartbreak of seeing their favorite characters fly through the wringer.
Of all the doctors in the popular medical drama, no one has had it worse than Meredith Gray (Ellen Pompeo). Meredith is almost always at the forefront of drama. From growing up with an emotionally distant mother to losing her husband, trauma has been pivotal in Meredith’s story. It’s hard to pinpoint the biggest struggles she’s had to face, but she comes through it stronger than ever with everyone.
Almost losing his license (season 16)
When a desperate father can’t afford to care for his sick daughter, Meredith plays with fire and commits insurance fraud. The action comes with dramatic consequences of his right to practice on the line.
There wouldn’t be a lot of show Meredith lost her license, so in the grand scheme of things, that’s not a big deal. That’s not to say it’s not without challenges; look how many friends she had ready to take the fall for her, DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) is even ready to go to jail! If Meredith fell, Gray Sloan would too.
Popping a Glove (Season 1)
Believe it or not, Meredith was once a naive, fresh-faced trainee who slept wherever she could find him. No, seriously, she falls asleep in the OR and pierces a patient’s new heart with her fingernail.
It turns out that Meredith isn’t entirely at fault in this case, as the patient’s heart muscles were already decaying. It could have cost Meredith her entire career, especially at such an early stage, and it’s the first of many scandals she finds herself embroiled in.
Becoming the Other Woman (Season 2)
Meredith’s entire world crumbles around her when Addison (Kate Walsh) arrives at the hospital. During a torrid love affair with Derek (Patrick Dempsey), Meredith falls hard and fast for McDreamy.
Addison’s introduction leads into the show’s original love triangle. All is not bad, however. This arc allows for some of Meredith’s most iconic lines, including the “Choose Me” speech in an effort to win Derek back. However, instead of fighting for her affection, the couple unceremoniously shout their sexist hypocrisy – which pits women against each other.
Losing custody of Zola (season 8)
Derek and Meredith are immediately in love with baby Zola when she arrives at the hospital in Season 8. It’s not long before the two are signing adoption papers, ready to start their family.
The other shoe eventually drops when Zola is abruptly removed from their guard. They recover Zola but not without some difficulties. Meredith’s relationship with Alex (Justin Chambers) and Bailey (Chandra Wilson) suffers setbacks; his reputation as a surgeon diminishes and Derek’s groundbreaking Alzheimer’s trial is canceled.
Assaulted by patient (season 12)
When a patient has a seizure in the ER, Meredith is left alone to tend to him and is brutally beaten upon awakening. The attack leaves her with severe trauma and in desperate need of medical attention.
Temporarily deaf with her jaw closed, the Surgeon General needs several surgeries and communication has become a major challenge in her recovery. As if that wasn’t hard enough to watch, even her children can barely stand to be around her, frightened by their mother’s hurt appearance.
Drowning (Season 3)
With several near-death encounters under his belt, Drowning is vying for the top spot. Meredith has an out-of-body experience where she reunites with ghosts from her past.
Content in the afterlife, Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) gives Meredith the wake-up call she needs to reevaluate her recent actions. To make matters worse, his mother, Ellis (Kate Burton), is also near death as Derek works to revive her. She and her daughter cross paths in Limbo, reconciling their relationship before Meredith is resurrected.
Getting COVID (Season 17)
If anyone were to catch COVID, it would be Meredith Gray – who spent most of season 18 fighting for her life in a coma as she visited a purgatory beach.
With the increase in deaths, the chances of Meredith making it seem less and less likely by the second. It looks like this could be the end. Never one to admit defeat, Meredith eventually recovers and returns home with her children.
Losing Derek (Season 11)
No one was ready to say goodbye to Derek Shepherd let alone his wife. Before his death, he and Meredith face one of their toughest challenges yet, creating an explosion of unresolved marital issues.
Just when everything is starting to look promising, Derek is killed in a car accident and Meredith makes the heartbreaking decision to turn off her life support. The accident takes its toll on all the characters, but Meredith takes it the hardest as a widow and single mother – for their unborn (and third) child no less.
The shooting (season 6)
by Gary Clark (Michael O’Neill) the killing spree traumatizes the entire team, but Meredith is at the heart of it all; Clark is on a mission to eliminate Lexie (Chyler Leigh), Richard (James Pickens Jr.), and Derek – all of whom are closely aligned with the leading lady.
Not only does she have to watch her beloved Derek take a bullet, but the stress of the situation also induces a miscarriage. Meredith is about to lose everything she holds dear. She is powerless for the moment before selflessly offering her own life in exchange for her family’s safety.
Plane crash (season 8)
Probably the worst thing that ever happened Grey’s Anatomy is the unfortunate theft. What are the odds that the only plane carrying America’s top surgeons will crash in the middle of nowhere?
As Meredith walks out with a few cuts and bruises, she is faced with the death of her younger sister, Lexie. This is the only event that seems to have marked Meredith and the other survivors. The show often reflects on their PTSD from the incident, highlighting how the show’s trajectory has changed.
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