Meredith Grey is scrubbing out.
“Grey’s Anatomy” said goodbye to the end of an era as longtime star Ellen Pompeo and her beloved character bid farewell in her last episode as a series regular in Thursday’s emotional winter premiere. Titled “I’ll Follow the Sun”, a reference to the 1964 Beatles song, the doctors at Grey Sloan plan a surprise send-off on Meredith’s last day at the hospital, as they toast to her one last time before she begins her new life in Boston.
“You know, once upon a time, you were the bane of my existence, but no, you grew up to become one of my points of pride,” Dr. Bailey said before choking up.
“Dr. Grey, what Dr. Bailey is trying to say is that this place won’t be the same without you,” Dr. Webber said before officially sending Meredith off to Boston.
Meredith made sure to make her mark before saying goodbye to Grey Sloan. While her final surgery didn’t go as planned, she was sure to take a stand when it came to her relationship with Dr. Marsh with a speech that called back to the infamous “choose me” monologue she delivered to McDreamy.
“I want you in my life if you want to be in my life,” Meredith told Nick before scrubbing out. “But if I have to choose, I’m going to pick me. And I am not going to beg you to love me.”
While Nick tried to share his love for Meredith before she made her departure, it seemed all too clear that she was putting her focus on her life, her career and her family as she made this major move.
Though Thursday’s episode marks Pompeo’s final appearance as a regular, this won’t be the last time viewers will see the character. The 53-year-old actress is expected to appear at least one more time before the current 19th season is over. She will continue to narrate the rest of the season and fulfill her duties as an executive producer, and the door remains open for her character to drop by in the future.
While Meredith won’t be roaming the halls of Grey Sloan week in and week out, Pompeo promised she’ll visit, and a teaser even hinted at an eventual return. “For the record, it’s not really my final,” Pompeo told ET earlier this month. “It’s a little bit of a trick they’re playing on people.” She confirmed, however, that she won’t be around in the interim: “It is my final episode for a while.”
Original cast member Chandra Wilson told ET ahead of the episode that it would be filled with nostalgia. “When are we not ever nostalgic, right? When do we not ever throw you back to the beginning and bring you into the present?” she teased. “So I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of that.” Wilson also revealed producers kept the episode under lock and key, with the cast seeing it for the first time along with everyone else: “They’re not even showing that final cut to us. So, we won’t see it until everybody else sees it, but it’s a really exciting time.”
See below for reactions to Meredith’s farewell to Seattle.
— FaliceBarchie ✨ the last haggie 🦄 (@anchors_ahoy) February 24, 2023
— laura (@lauraamayyyy) February 24, 2023
— S 🎠 (@staywithgaetani) February 24, 2023
Meredith Grey is iconic and I’m crying. #GreysAnatomy
— Melanie Rose (@melaniedrose) February 24, 2023
— Nella (@NellaSays) February 24, 2023
What did Ellen Pompeo do to deserve this horrible send off OMG!?!?!?!?! This is worse than when Alex left at least they gave it some razzle dazzle and trauma?!?$ wtf!!!! #GreysAnatomy pic.twitter.com/A7B0EQAuRv
— Camm ☁️ (@cammiemark) February 24, 2023
— marie 🦋 (@ilyjowilson) February 24, 2023
— Piszczykowski ∆ I SAW LOUIS AND HARRY (@xluvmeharry) February 24, 2023
— sahh 💭 (@pompeosxl) February 24, 2023
Here come the speeches whew tears all tears #GreysAnatomy
— SNOW WHITE BLACK (@SexyN_UrCity) February 24, 2023
— Lusey (@itsslusey) February 24, 2023
— Katherine (@Perezgirl_98) February 24, 2023
— ang (@carinaswhore) February 24, 2023
Out of every Grey’s exit, Meredith’s is by far the most underwhelming and unemotional. Who wrote this episode? #GreysAnatomy
— Jessica Ales (@JessAlessandra) February 24, 2023
— Central Ellen Pompeo (@centralep_) February 24, 2023
“Grey’s Anatomy” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.