Grey’s Anatomy:  4 Predictions for the Series Ending

As Grey’s Anatomy is already three episodes into its 17th season (I still can’t believe it’s been on the air for 15 years!), much of its fan base still wrestles with the lingering question: when will the show end, and how will it end? Shonda Rhimes has said in the past that the show will not continue without Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey, and as Ellen’s contract is set to expire at the end of this season, I feel confident in saying that we’ll be bidding farewell to Grey Sloan Memorial sooner rather than later. Additionally, it seems as if the writers are determined to implement Covid into the Grey’s universe for the entirety of the season -- since the real-life pandemic has only worsened over time, the show-runners may decide to cancel out of fear that viewers will stop tuning in just to watch the horrific reality play out on national television. Regardless of what the outcome is, here are a couple of predictions for how the final season will end:

1. Meredith dies from Covid-19

This is a newer theory I’ve been pondering in light of the first few episodes of the 17th season that have aired. While I don’t think the writers would ever plan to kill the main character, Covid has certainly put a damper on their storytelling limitations, so this prediction may not be far off. At the conclusion of the two-part season premiere, Meredith collapses in the parking lot and the scene cuts to a dream in which she is standing on the beach. Suddenly, Derek, who has been dead for five years, appears-- and no, this isn’t CGI, it’s actually him! Apparently, Derek will be sticking around throughout this season as a central figure in Meredith’s hallucinations, presumably due to complications of Covid. The decision to bring back a dead character we never thought we’d see again, let alone the love of Meredith’s life, isn’t something the show-runners would take lightly. Not to mention, the voiceover for the promo for next week’s episode suggests another character from Meredith’s past will make an appearance. Maybe the idea is to resurrect George, Mark, Lexie, Ellis, and others, as a show of appreciation for the millions of fans who have invested in the show for so long. 

2. Meredith doesn’t die, but she’s in a coma for most of the season

This is also a strong possibility and one that might sit better with a majority of viewers. Recently, Jimmy Kimmel interviewed Ellen Pompeo and shared some of his predictions for Meredith’s fate, the most notable and realistic one being that she would be asleep in a coma for half of the season. Ellen played coyly and started to smile, prompting laughter from the audience and suggesting that this may very well be the central plot of the Covid-stricken season. This would allow the series to explore the inevitable rollercoaster of emotions experienced by Meredith’s fellow surgeon and closest friends at Grey Sloan as she fights for her life, and we would hopefully get a decent amount of screen time from Derek (in addition to other ex-characters). 

3. Meredith has Alzheimer’s and the entire series is a flashback

The potential for Meredith contracting Alzheimer’s is perfectly rational since she shares so many similarities with her mother who died of the disease and she has tested positive for multiple genetic markers of Alzheimer’s. The theory that has been circulating around in the last few years is that Meredith gets Alzheimer’s and the show transitions to the present-day where she is sitting in a nursing home accompanied by her oldest daughter, Zola. It’s speculated that the events that have transpired in Grey’s have been documented in a journal by Meredith, exactly how her mother wrote about her experiences in journals and passed them down to Meredith. Zola presumably reads aloud what Meredith has written in order to remind her about her surgeon days, which is why we get first-person narrations from Meredith at the beginning of each episode. 

4. A classic happy ending with zero deaths and Zola as a new intern 

The series would come full circle if Zola were to carry on the legacy of her parents and become a world-renowned surgeon (probably a neurosurgeon, following in the footsteps of Derek). It’s also possible that Alex comes to his senses and reunites with Jo, Callie and Arizona could return for the final episode and be officially back together, or maybe Meredith becomes chief of surgery. I doubt all of these will happen because Grey’s Anatomy isn’t exactly a “happy” show -- we’ve seen a shooting, plane crash, bus crash, a fire that nearly burned down the hospital, a bomb in a body cavity, and so much more. At the same time, the show has remained committed to telling stories of romance, friendship, career aspirations, and strong female characters. Who knows, maybe just as the series is ending on a high note, the hospital self-destructs and everyone dies. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!