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Grey's Anatomy: The Meredith Issue That Made Ellen Pompeo Feel Happy About Leaving

It isn't exactly unprecedented to see medical shows last for decades, but "Grey's Anatomy" was always more than a procedural. Combining heightened romance with bizarre medical stories, Shonda Rhimes' first foray into network television became a phenomenon for a reason. But after 19 seasons, it is time for the titular character to move on from Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Throughout friendships, heartbreaking moments, and eventually children, Meredith Grey has led a full career and, by extension, Ellen Pompeo has done so as well. The actor has carried the show on her shoulders since 2005, and she doesn't feel bad about leaving now.

"I've been on the show so long, I'm happy to let that go. We're past that point," Pompeo told Katherine Heigl in an interview for Variety. But it wouldn't be "Grey's Anatomy" without some romantic setbacks. One of the reasons that Pompeo could let Meredith go was because of her frequent drama with the men in her life. "I think it's OK for Meredith to stop making bad decisions. One of my frustrations is the Nick and Meredith of it all. Scott Speedman plays Meredith's love interest, Nick Marsh, and I love Speedman. Somehow, Meredith can't figure out how to make a relationship work, still, after all this time." But while some may want Meredith to get an uncomplicated happy ending, she left the show in the only way the confident doctor could.

Meredith has come a long way from pick me, choose me

As Meredith packs up her life to move her children to Boston, she and Nick don't leave things on the best of terms. Through a series of miscommunications, both are on opposite sides of the issue. Nick thinks Meredith is abandoning him, while she doesn't feel adequately loved. In a dramatic conclusion in the scrub room, Meredith defines her position in no uncertain terms. 

She needs to put her kids first, and she won't be begging a man this time. This harkens back to one of the show's most famous scenes. Far back in Season 2, Meredith begs Derek (Patrick Dempsey) to pick her over his estranged wife, Addison (Kate Walsh). Pompeo was famously appalled by the scene, deeming begging a man onscreen to be unfeminist and embarrassing. But now we get to see Meredith in full character progression. Though she and Nick have a lot of issues to work through, it shows how much Meredith has grown. She is putting herself first and leaving the character on good terms.

"I felt so happy to be able to step away, and I felt like I accomplished something incredible," Pompeo added. "Everywhere, as I'm sure everywhere you go, people just run up to me and say, 'I love you!' It's weird and strange, but it's just love coming at me." And it isn't exactly curtains for Nick and Meredith either. The ending of Season 19 showed there may just be hope for the couple yet.