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Grey's Anatomy Showrunner Krista Vernoff Explains Meredith's Underwhelming Exit

Diehards of "Grey's Anatomy" didn't quite know what to expect regarding Ellen Pompeo's exit after nearly two decades portraying Meredith Grey. However, what they got in Season 19, Episode 7 ("I'll Follow the Sun") definitely wasn't what they wanted. Fans have referred to the episode as "underwhelming" and "flat," and expressed annoyance that Meredith's sendoff from Grey Sloan wasn't more heartfelt.

According to outgoing showrunner Krista Vernoff, there's a reason why Meredith's sendoff isn't bigger. She told TV Line, "It wasn't a farewell episode, it was a leaving-Seattle episode, because we knew we were going to see Meredith again this season and more next season as well. So it was a different kind of farewell than some that we've done where it's like, 'That's the last you're ever going to see of that person.' We didn't want to do that. We wanted a sweet 'see you later' kind of thing for Ellen."

Not only is Pompeo set to appear in the occasional episode during Seasons 19 and 20, but she'll also continue her long-standing role as narrator for "Grey's Anatomy." Therefore, even if she's not physically seen for several weeks at a time as she begins a new life in Boston, fans can still feel her presence in each episode.

Meredith's exit features a callback to her iconic Season 2 line

Some fans argued that Ellen Pompeo's exit falls flat because there's a lack of nostalgia. On Reddit, u/Froggymushroom22 said, "She should've gotten everything. We should've had an appearance from old characters, we should've had flashbacks, we deserved all of it. SHE deserves that." Another user, u/RoseDarlin58, remarked, "It was a flat ep. Definitely not the send off Meredith deserved."

However, longtime fans may have noticed a callback to Meredith's iconic "pick me, choose me, love me" speech to Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey, who Pompeo had a real-life wedding registry with for a good cause) in Season 2, Episode 5 ("Bring the Pain"), which sees her begging him to be with her. In Meredith's sort-of farewell episode, when Dr. Nick Marsh (Scott Speedman) tries to get her to stay after previously rejecting her, she tells him, "I want you in my life if you want to be in my life. But if I have to choose, I'm going to pick me, I pick my kids and I pick what's best for us. And I am not going to beg you to love me."

"I'll Follow the Sun" might not be as emotional as fans envisioned, but this moment shows how much Meredith grows throughout "Grey's Anatomy," which certainly isn't underwhelming.