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Grey's Anatomy: Who Could Replace Meredith As Main Character?

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  • Posted on 07th Aug, 2022 14:13 PM
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Meredith Grey has long been synonymous with Grey's Anatomy, but season 18 showed she still wants to leave Grey Sloan. Here's who could replace her.

Ellen Pompeo returning as Meredith Grey for Grey’s Anatomy season 19 delayed Meredith’s departure from Grey Sloan, but Meredith is still set on leaving the hospital after it’s saved – here are all the characters who could replace Meredith as the main character. Although Meredith’s own surname is part of the medical drama’s name, talks about Meredith possibly leaving Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital have abounded, especially after Ellen Pompeo revealed she had been trying to convince everyone that Grey’s Anatomy should end for some time. Despite Pompeo’s opinion on the matter and Meredith’s desire to leave for Rochester in Grey’s Anatomy season 18, Grey’s Anatomy’s protagonist will return for season 19 in an even bigger role, as Meredith was made interim chief of surgery in Grey’s Anatomy season 18, episode 20.

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Meredith has always been central to Grey’s Anatomy, even if the show’s earliest seasons focused on the rest of the MAGIC group almost as much as they did on Meredith. As George (T. R. Knight) died and Izzie (Katherine Heigl), Cristina (Sandra Oh), and Alex (Justin Chambers) left, Meredith was left alone in bringing the weight of the show on her shoulders. Other characters, like her sisters Maggie (Kelly McCreary) and Amelia (Caterina Scorsone), became more prominent through the years, and Grey’s Anatomy slightly changed perspective in the stories it told, but Meredith had always remained essential to the show and its success.

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Related: Who Is Actually The Best Doctor In Grey's Anatomy?

Simultaneously, Grey’s Anatomy seasons 17 and 18 showed Meredith progressively drifting away from being an integral part of Grey Sloan Memorial. After all, Grey’s Anatomy season 17 saw Meredith ill with Covid-19 and therefore unconscious for most of it, while season 18 saw her splitting her time between Seattle and Rochester, which brought Meredith to realize that she’s actually ready to move on from the place where she did her residency and which gave her so much. While Grey’s Anatomy season 18 ended with Meredith holding the highest position she ever did at Grey Sloan Memorial, she never backtracked on her decision to finally leave the hospital the moment that she successfully helped its residency program get reinstated. Here’s who could replace Meredith Grey as Grey’s Anatomy’s main character if that came to pass.

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Jo Wilson

Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington) is one of the most probable characters to actually take Meredith’s place as protagonist if Pompeo were to definitely leave the show. Jo is one of the few interns who appeared throughout Grey’s Anatomy’s latest seasons whose story was thoroughly explored. While interns who were introduced in season 9 just like she was might have had story arcs, Jo’s story is one of the few that continued being developed through the years. Even when Karev shockingly left Jo in Grey’s Anatomy season 16, she remained one of Grey’s Anatomy’s central characters, being as crucial to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital as she was to its doctors and Grey’s Anatomy’s viewers.

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Besides her centrality to many of the hospital's storylines, Jo is also the only other Grey’s Anatomy character to have suffered almost as much as Meredith. Besides Grey’s Anatomy’s hate for true love, as it never lets love stories end happily onscreen, the medical drama is also famous for allowing its characters to suffer plenty of tragedies, with Meredith leading the way for the things she had to endure during the show’s 18 seasons. Jo comes as a close second to Meredith, as not only her personal tragedies were multiple, but the storylines that explored them also touched upon relevant themes, such as mental health and domestic abuse. While important themes were always explored in Grey’s Anatomy, most of them came in contact with Meredith in some way. Since Jo appeared, though, the exploration of similarly timely themes was shared between Meredith and Jo, making Jo Meredith’s perfect replacement if Meredith were to leave Grey Sloan.

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Maggie Pierce

Since she came to Seattle to learn more about her biological mother, Ellis Grey, Maggie Pierce steadily became one of Grey’s Anatomy’s central characters. Maggie’s bonds with Richard (James Pickens Jr.) and Meredith contributed to Maggie’s centrality to the show, as they simultaneously made her relevant to two of the hospital’s more well-connected people and the characters who have been the longest in Grey’s Anatomy. In the medical drama’s more recent seasons, Maggie’s story arcs became more prominent and more important, focusing both on her career, her familial relationships, and love stories, too, making Maggie one of Meredith’s possible replacements if her half-sister were to leave Seattle.

Related: Season 18 Secretly Broke Grey's Anatomy's Happy Ending Curse

Amelia Shepherd

Another character with the opportunity and charisma to be able to replace Meredith if she were to leave is her other sister Amelia. Coming from Grey’s Anatomy’s spinoff Private Practice, Amelia had to fight to be under her brother Derek’s (Patrick Dempsey) shadow from day one. After finally getting recognized as a doctor in her own right, Amelia also had the chance to have her storylines either introduce relevant themes to the show or massively influence what happened at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Not only has Amelia become one of the most beloved Grey’s Anatomy characters, but her romantic relationships are also extensively focused on by the show’s story, similarly to Jo’s and, in a more significant way, Meredith’s. Were Amelia to replace Meredith as Grey’s Anatomy’s main character, the medical drama would have as its protagonist a beloved character who’s the perfect connection between the show’s earliest protagonists, Meredith and Derek.

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Meredith Is Still The Protagonist, But She Leaves Grey Sloan

One possibility that could have potentially been foreshadowed by Meredith’s disconnection with what happened at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in Grey’s Anatomy seasons 17 and 18 entails Meredith leaving the hospital but still staying on as the show’s protagonist. While it might sound odd, as Grey’s Anatomy has always been as much about Meredith’s story as it has been about Grey Sloan Memorial, it’s also already happened in seasons 17 and 18. Grey’s Anatomy season 18 even beautifully detailed Meredith’s detachment from Grey Sloan’s happenings, which slowly evolved through the season, starting from Meredith accepting Hamilton’s (Peter Gallagher) offer to partly research in Minnesota and ending with her spending increasingly more time there, both for her work and her relationship with Nick (Scott Speedman).

While it could initially feel wrong, as Grey Sloan had always been Meredith’s safe space and the hospital’s story is inextricably linked to Meredith’s, it could also contribute to Meredith and the hospital’s individual achievements. After all, Meredith’s stay at Grey Sloan felt like a prison for her in Grey’s Anatomy season 18, and her story bringing her to new shores far from Seattle could fulfill Meredith as a character and let her develop even more. Even Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital could benefit from Meredith leaving in the long run, as Grey’s Anatomy season 18 worryingly highlighted how the hospital’s esteemed position was attributed almost entirely to Meredith’s presence there. Despite that, Grey Sloan’s residency program was shut down. If Meredith ended up leaving it after bringing it back to its glorious days, it could only benefit Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in the end.

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Grey's Anatomy's New Main Character Has Yet To Appear

Meredith’s replacement could also not be as obvious, being someone who previous Grey’s Anatomy seasons haven’t necessarily made a central character. Someone like Miranda (Chandra Wilson) or Teddy (Kim Raver), who, despite having had multiple story arcs conclude in different seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, was never as central to the main story as were those of Jo, Amelia, or Maggie. Similarly, if a resident like Taryn Helm (Jaicy Elliot) were to pivot to a more central role, that change would have to happen in Grey’s Anatomy season 19. If any of these options were to actually become Grey’s Anatomy’s main character instead of Meredith, it would definitely provide a significant change for Shondaland’s long-running medical drama.

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