Grey’s Anatomy has a challenge ahead of itself when it finally crafts its ending, and one dark fan theory would be an insult to its devoted, longtime audience. Grey’s Anatomy’s title as the longest-running medical drama of all time continues to be upheld, with Ellen Pompeo inking a new deal bringing back the show for a returning character-packed Grey’s Anatomy season 18. Old favorites like Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) and Megan Hunt (Abigail Spencer) will return, a sure sign that the show is heading into its endgame, and one theory of a particular tragic ending for Grey’s Anatomy and Meredith is a possibility.
Looking back at previous episodes foretells the show’s direction for its final ever climax. Ever since Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) ɗ𝔦ᥱd shockingly in the finale of season 2, Grey’s Anatomy has proven that it is unafraid to ƙ𝔦ℓℓ off beloved characters. This penchant came to a head in season 11 when Derek (Patrick Dempsey) was ƙ𝔦ℓℓed in a car accident. Some believed the show could not survive the departure of its male lead, especially since ƙ𝔦ℓℓing him was the most upsetting choice the show could make. However, Grey’s Anatomy had teased Derek Shepherd’s ɗᥱαꚍɧ for years. Ultimately, the writers understood how to craft a ɗᥱαꚍɧ for him that would allow Pompeo’s Meredith Grey and the audience to grieve but ultimately move on.
The next epic tragedy Grey’s has been hinting at is not ɗᥱαꚍɧ, but illness. There is a tragic theory that the ending of Grey’s Anatomy will reveal that Meredith has Alzheimer’s. From the moment Ellis Grey (Kate Burton) was introduced, the possibility of her daughter inheriting the disease that she herself had has hung over the show. In season 9, Meredith tested herself for the genetic markers for the disease, her results coming back positive for more than one marker of Alzheimer’s. Ellis’ Grey’s Anatomy season 18 return will remind the audience of all the horror Meredith went through watching her brilliant surgeon mother’s brain betray her. Showing, or even implying, that the same terrible experience will happen to Meredith Grey is too cruel for such a soapy show and would be an insult to not just her character, but also to loyal audiences.
Meredith is such a memorable character because she is indestructible. She has survived a bombing, near-drowning, a shooting, a plane crash, even a Covid-19 triggered coma. Her whole character arc has been about wanting to give in to ɗᥱαꚍɧ but being strong enough to say no. Grey’s Anatomy has a strong metaphysical streak, most prevalent during the episodes when one or more of its characters roam the afterlife. Meredith straddled life and ɗᥱαꚍɧ for almost the entirety of Grey’s Anatomy season 17, communicating with multiple ɗᥱαɗ characters on the beach. During these storylines, ɗᥱαꚍɧ is certainly not frightening. The choice Meredith makes to wake up from her Covid-induced coma is powerful because it is implied that she could otherwise be with Derek on the other side. ɗᥱαꚍɧ itself has never scared her the way that Alzeheimer’s does.
After almost two decades with Meredith, watching her be tortured by an incurable illness is not the way she should end her small screen reign. Viewers would much rather look forward to the possibility of Meredith and Hayes (Richard Flood) ending up together. After all, it is the romance that propelled the show to such rating heights. If Grey’s Anatomy does choose a less than joyful ending, having Meredith finally ɗ𝔦ᥱ when she is truly ready, instead of inflicting her with the cruelty of Alzheimer’s, would bring closure. It would not be a twist, but it would provide pathos while letting the rest of the story remain intact.