Best and Worst Boyfriends for Meredith on "Grey's Anatomy," as Ellen Pompeo Leaves Show

Over the course of 19 seasons, she's had several failed romances, bad hookups and one unforgettable epic love.

Meredith Grey has said goodbye to Seattle. After 19 seasons and more than 400 episodes, Ellen Pompeo, who has played the title character on Grey's Anatomy since 2005, has moved on. When we first met Meredith, she was an intern alongside Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), George O'Malley (T.R. Knight), and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers), but became a surgical resident, then attending surgeon, and closed out her run on the series as chief of surgery. While Pompeo will not appear too often now, if at all, she will continue to record voiceovers for the show. February 23rd marked her final episode as a series regular and wrapped up the character's storyline, as she moved to Massachusetts, where she accepted a job offer from her former colleague Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams), who is working on a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

However, there's room for her to return at any time, and Meredith made a point to say, "I'm only going to Boston and I'll probably be here next week." But everyone knows she's not likely to, at least not very often, and Richard (James Pickens Jr.) declared, "This place won't be the same without you." And it won't be. Meredith Grey brought the drama, delivered unforgettable lines like the "Pick me. Choose me. Love me" speech she gave in season two to Derek (Patrick Dempsey), and of course had a string of messy love affairs. As a tribute to the iconic and beloved TV character, here's a list of Meredith's greatest and not-so-great romances ranked from worst to best. Do you agree?

10. George O'Malley


From the pilot episode, it was clear that George was deeply infatuated with Meredith, who was his colleague and roommate, but he kept his feelings from her because she was with Derek. However, in season 2, things weren't going well for Meredith. Derek went back to his ex-wife Addison (Kate Walsh), which was soul-crushing and Meredith slept with George in a moment of bad judgment, which she regretted immediately. In fact, she cried during the stomach-churning hookup that strained their friendship, but the two were able to move past their mistake. Although Meredith made plenty of poor choices, this was one tops them all. Lesson learned–don't sleep with your friends unless you want them out of the friend zone. Many fans were outraged that George and Meredith slept together and so was the showrunner, Krista Vernoff. During Variety's Women of Grey's Anatomy panel, Vernoff shared that she had a big fight with creator Shonda Rimes over it. "I was like, 'No! Everybody will hate us,'" Vernoff said, with Pompeo chiming in to say, "I cried for real during the scene." But as Vernoff pointed out, "[Rhimes] was like, 'They don't have to love it, they just have to watch it and talk about it. It's not always about being likable, it's about entertainment.'" That said, Pompeo revealed, "I've still never watched it."

9. Steve Murphy


You might not know him by name, but you'll surely remember why he ended up in Seattle Grace Hospital. While trying to get over Derek in season 2, who went back to Addison for a minute, Meredith meets a cute guy at the bar, Steve Murphy (Sunkrish Bala), takes him home and has a one-night-stand. She's under the impression she probably won't see him again, but she actually runs into him sooner than she'd like to. It's a nightmare situation when he shows up in the ER with an erection that hasn't gone away since their encounter. Even more humiliating is when Derek has to perform surgery on Steve. The situation was a complete disaster and Steve is never seen nor mentioned again. 

8. John


How I Met Your Mother's Josh Radnor had a small guest-starring role in season 15 as John. Although he first hits it off so well with Meredith that she reschedules her entire day to spend more time with him, it quickly sours after John shares he has no interest in children. In addition, he unintentionally insults Meredith when he complained about dating needy, desperate single moms. Bye John! Hopefully Meredith learned to ask upfront if someone likes kids before rearranging her schedule for them. 

7. William Thorpe


William (Scott Elrod) was a doctor at Bauer Army Medical Center and he could have been the right guy, but he came at the wrong time. Meredith was dealing with the loss of Derek and trying to get her life back on track when William entered the picture. He was the first man she dated after the death of Derek. She avoided his advances for a while, but he finally convinced her to go out with him. However, she just wasn't ready and after their third date she screamed at him to get out of her house. We'd like to believe things could have ended differently if Meredith had been in a better place. This is a case of when someone tells you where they're at in life, believe them. 

6. Atticus Lincoln (Link)


For a hot second, Link (Chris Carmack) was entangled in one of Meredith's infamous love triangles. He was battling for Meredith's attention along with Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti). Although Link is wildly handsome and used to women throwing themselves at him, she does not choose him. In fact, she stands him up and doesn't show or call to let him know she's not coming to a party he invited her to. Link does end up as one of Meredith's dating casualties, but he moved on with Amelia (Caterina Scorsone), so it all worked out. Many fans were rooting all along for Andrew and they got their wish. Sorry Link!

5. Andrew DeLuca


After sharing a drunken kiss at Alex and Jo's wedding at the end of season 14, Meredith begins fantasizing about the Italian doctor and who can blame her? Throughout season 15, Andrew pursues her and the two begin a complicated romance, but aren't a great match. Even though Andrew was sweet and fiercely protective of Meredith–like he'd go to jail to cover for the insurance fraud she committed–there were too many hurdles to get over. Andrew breaks up with Meredith because he realizes she doesn't respect him. In addition, he showed signs of mental illness and continued down a spiral. Their relationship was sadly never meant to be. His storyline came to a tragic end when he was convinced that a patient was a victim of human trafficking, but nobody would listen. Although he finally managed to prove he was right, he was stabbed by the human trafficker and died. 

4. Nathan Riggs


Nathan Riggs (Martin Henderson) was another promising contender for Meredith, but he rivaled her in emotional baggage. Nathan lost his fiancee Megan (Abigail Spencer) when she went missing while deployed in Iraq where they were working as surgeons. He blamed himself and never got it over, but tried to move on when he met Meredith. The two became close and it looked like maybe they could make it together, but Megan is found alive. After a lot of back and forth between the three of them, Meredith encourages Nathan to fight for Megan because not everyone gets a second chance at love like he did.

3. Nick Marsh


Nick (Scott Speedman) gets a spot in the top three because he's the last relationship we see Meredith in and it shows how far she's come from the "pick me" days with Derek. We first meet Nick, a world-class transplant surgeon, back in season 14 when he stops by Grey Sloan to pick up a donor liver for a patient who's awaiting a transplant. However, he has had his own medical emergency and falls under the care of Meredith who reveals Nick has made her feel something she hasn't felt before. While that was the end of the storyline for Nick, he comes back in season 18 and the two start a long-distance relationship–he's in Minnesota and she stays in Seattle where he eventually moves. But things don't stay good for long. In season 19, Meredith decides she's moving to Boston for her family and doesn't discuss it with Nick. He confronts her and says, "I know it's been a lot but what was your plan? You're going to leave and not call me back." While he's upset about the situation, she's upset about something else. She told him "I love you" and he didn't say it back. He quips back, "I didn't do and say exactly what you thought I should do and say exactly on your timeline so this whole mess is my fault that's what you're saying." 

She tells him, "I'm a grown woman with a big life, a big career and three kids, and this move is what my daughter needs. 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. I'm not going to beg you to love me." After realizing he did love Meredith, he called her while she was at the airport. "I fell in love with you the first day I met you," he said. "I fell in love with you the second day I met you and I have loved you every minute of every day that I have known you." She responded, "I can't quite hear you. We're about to take off so I'll call you when we get settled." Since that's the last episode Meredith is in as a series regular, it's doubtful we will see these two reunite, but it's Grey's Anatomy so you never know. 

2. Finn Dandridge


Finn (Chris O'Donnell) will always be the one who got away–well, in our eyes. Meredith shared a dog with Derek and Addison. When the dog becomes sick, a really sweet and handsome veterinarian comes to the rescue. Finn not only gets the dog back to good health, but has a thing for Meredith. Since Derek is giving his marriage to Addison another try, Meredith goes on a few dates with Finn, who dotes on her and does everything to win her over. But he honestly never stood a chance even though he deserved one. She compared him to her former partner constantly, and even cheated on Finn when Derek came back into the picture. We all know who she chose, but it was sad to see Finn go. 

1. Derek Shepherd


It all started with a one-night-stand that turned into an epic love affair, in one of the longest-running iconic dramas. Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd randomly hook up after meeting at a bar. They never expected to see each other again, but surprisingly ran into one another at Seattle Grace Hospital where she was an intern and he was the Head of Neurosurgery. They had a turbulent relationship, and kept the drama going with their on and off again status that seemed to somehow involve every other character. Through all the gut-wrenching tragedies, fights, secrets, and various love triangles, they stuck by each other until the end. At the time of Derek's death in season 11, they were happily married with three kids, and until Meredith's departure in season 19, we watched her try to pick up the pieces of her life, date and juggle family and career. While fans were hoping Meredith would meet someone else whom she adored as much as Derek, he was always her true love. Her McDreamy. 

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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