All the Times Meredith Grey Almost Died (or Suffered Another Trauma)
We know there’d be no Grey’s Anatomy without Meredith Grey … especially because creator Shonda Rhimes has said that Grey’s will end whenever Ellen Pompeo is done with the role. Even so, we still bite our nails whenever Mer has a brush with death — like here, in Season 17, when she’s battling COVID-19.
And Meredith has had many, many close calls over the years — in addition to all of her assorted other trials and tribulations. Between bomb blasts and patient attacks and hospital shooters and multiple visits from the Grim Reaper, our poor Mer must be the unluckiest character on TV. Just scroll down to see all the misfortune and tragedy that has befallen Dr. Grey over the years…
When she has to save her mother
After Richard (James Pickens Jr.) chooses to stay with Adele (Loretta Devine), his wife, over Ellis (Kate Burton), his coworker-turned-lover, Ellis cuts her wrists and prohibits a young Mer from calling 911. But Mer calls for help after Ellis passes out and thus saves Ellis’ life.
When Ellis develops Alzheimer’s
At the start of Grey’s Anatomy, Mer has already moved her mom into an extended care facility, since Ellis has developed Alzheimer’s disease and oftentimes doesn’t recognize her daughter.
When her boyfriend’s wife shows up
After starting as a surgical intern at the hospital then known as Seattle Grace, Meredith falls for neuro attending Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) … not long before his secret wife, Addison (Kate Walsh), waltzes into the scene.
When she nearly blows up
In Grey’s Anatomy’s Super Bowl episode of Season 2, Mer jams her hand inside a patient’s body to stabilize the bomb in his chest cavity after a paramedic panics and flees. Miraculously, Mer doesn’t blow up right then and there, but later, she’s only feet away when the bomb squad guy turns into “pink mist.”
When she falls into Elliot Bay and nearly drowns
In Season 3, Mer is one of the first responders on the scene after a ferry crashes into a dock. But she gets knocked into the water during the rescue effort, and she would have died if Derek hadn’t jumped in and retrieved her (very blue) body.
When her mother dies
Later that season, Ellis dies of a heart condition — not long after a bitter moment of lucidity in which she expresses her disappointment that Mer had become “no more than ordinary.”
When her stepmother dies
Thatcher Grey (Jeff Perry), Mer’s dad, brings wife Susan Grey (Mare Winningham) into the hospital for what should be a routine procedure toward the end of Season 3. But after the operation, Susan develops a “toxic megacolon” and dies, and Thatcher slaps Meredith across the face when she delivers the sad news.
When George dies
At the end of Season 5, Mer realizes that her John Doe patient—who was hit by a bus trying to save a patient—is her friend George (T.R. Knight). She only finds out when he traces his “007” nickname on her palm, mere moments before he takes his last breath.
When Izzie nearly dies of cancer
Izzie (Katherine Heigl) nearly dies in the Season 5 finale, too. After her brain tumor operation, Izzie develops hyperkalemia and flatlines in Alex’s (Justin Chambers) arms. Luckily, Alex ignores her “do not resuscitate” order, and Izzie lives to see another day (and to leave the show half a season later).
When Derek is shot
Gary Clark (Michael O’Neill) returns to the hospital in the two-part Season 6 finale to enact revenge on the surgeons he blames for his wife’s death — Derek included. Face-to-face with the killer on the hospital catwalk, Derek almost talks the guy down, but then April (Sarah Drew) barges in and Gary fires a bullet that nearly ended Derek’s life.
When she suffers a miscarriage
During that finale — as Cristina (Sandra Oh) saves Derek’s life and as Meredith treats a wounded Owen (Kevin McKidd) — Mer feels intense pain and starts bleeding. “I’m having a miscarriage,” she tells April, matter-of-factly, before getting right back to work.
When her daughter is taken away
Much of Season 7 revolves around Mer and Der trying to adopt Zola, a spina bifida patient Alex flew in from Malawi. They gain temporary custody of Zola, but then a social worker takes the baby away in Season 8 after discovering Mer has been fired and that she and Derek aren’t living together — and after Mer temporarily steals the child! (Luckily, Mer and Der are able to finalize the adoption later in the season.)
When she survives a plane crash that kills her sister
Amazingly, Mer survives the Season 8-ending plane crash with just a puncture wound, but her half-sister, Lexie (Chyler Leigh), isn’t so lucky. Pinned by the tail section of the plane, Lexie passes away while Mer searches for a missing Derek.
When she nearly dies during childbirth
At the end of Season 9, Mer has the misfortune of needing an emergency C-section during a superstorm and a power outage at the hospital. Baby Bailey is delivered safely, but afterward, Mer suffers a hemorrhage that Shane (Gaius Charles) and adult Bailey (Chandra Wilson) barely manage to repair.
When Cristina moves away
For nearly 10 seasons, Cristina is Meredith’s “person”… and then she moves to Switzerland to follow her cardio dreams. Mer supports Cristina’s decision, of course, but gone are the days when she could just dance it out (or drink it out) with her BFF.
When Derek dies
In perhaps the worst trauma of them all, Derek dies in Season 11 after his car is hit by a truck — and after the doctors at a local clinic botch their treatment of his head injury.
When a patient attacks her
A seizure patient unwittingly attacks Mer in a fugue state in Season 11, leaving Meredith with multiple injuries — including a concussion, a dislocated jaw, a dislocated elbow, a leg fracture, a forearm fracture, fractured ribs, a pneumothorax, a larynx injury, and hearing loss. It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation for her Grey Sloan colleagues, but thanks to their efforts, Mer makes a full recovery.
When she goes to jail
Mer initially avoids a jail sentence after committing insurance fraud for the sake of an undocumented patient in Season 15, but the following season, Mer is put behind bars anyway after a judge orders her to go to jail to make up the community hours she missed during one of Zola’s hospitalizations.
When she gets COVID-19
And in Season 17, Mer’s selflessness shows up again as she logs long hours at the hospital and puts herself in harm’s way to save as many COVID-19 patients as she can. No good deed goes unpunished: She soon comes down with the virus herself.
Grey’s Anatomy, Midseason Return, Thursday, March 4, 9/8c, ABC