A popular fan theory imagines Grey’s Anatomy’s ending with a grown-up Zola becoming the surgeon that saves Meredith’s life. Here’s why it could work.
One fan theory about Grey’s Anatomy’s series ending sees Meredith being saved by her daughter Zola. Though there are certainly many theories drummed up by fans surrounding the beloved medical drama’s ending, this particular theory is a favorite. It showcases the high-stakes drama that the series is known for while providing closure for its protagonist.
In its early days, Grey’s Anatomy centered Meredith’s foundational emotional arc on her relationship with her mother, Dr. Ellis Grey. Indeed, it was Ellis’ battle with Alzheimer’s that motivated Meredith to become a surgeon. Throughout her residency at Grey Sloan Memorial, Meredith showed a preference for neurosurgery, participating in different clinical trials (one of which was for Alzheimer’s) and specifically seeking out Derek’s tutelage. Ellis, however, died before Meredith was able to find her mother a cure.
With Grey’s Anatomy being potentially canceled after its next (and 18th) season, the show’s core mother-daughter relationship certainly deserves closure. As the fan-favorite theory suggests (via Elite Daily), Meredith’s daughter Zola is the answer. The theory imagines Meredith suffering from Alzheimer’s, which inspires a grown-up Zola to pursue a career in neurosurgery and, what’s more, actually find a cure for her mother. Though just a theory, this ending effectively offers the perfect bookend for Meredith because it pays homage to the original mother-daughter dynamic that has burdened and inspired her since the beginning. More importantly, with Zola ultimately becoming the neurosurgeon that Meredith wanted to become and now needs, she represents the crowning achievement of Meredith’s legacy as both a surgeon and a mother.
Since season 1 of Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith has dealt with the emotional trauma caused by Ellis’s prioritization of her career over motherhood. In the middle seasons, as Meredith built a life with Derek, she strove to balance her personal and professional lives out of fear that she’d end up like Ellis. Now, Meredith is portrayed as both an award-winning surgeon and an all-providing mother. She became the great surgeon that Ellis was and the great mother that Ellis wasn’t. If the series gives Meredith the ending that the fan theory suggests, it would underscore Meredith’s triumph over her initial emotional trauma and, by extension, refute the misogynistic idea that she must choose between being a Harper Avery Award-winning surgeon or raising a healthy family.
Narratively speaking, this ending isn’t out of the realm of plausibility. Ever since Zola was introduced to the series, key moments from her childhood have mirrored key moments from Meredith’s. Both have had to call 911 to help their mothers, who collapsed in the kitchen, and both lost their fathers at young ages (though in different ways) and grew up in a household run by a single mother who was also an award-winning surgeon. Clearly, Grey’s Anatomy has already been laying the breadcrumbs for emotional parallels between Meredith and Zola. The show is adept at nodding to its own past and bringing themes full circle, especially when providing its beloved characters with appropriate exits.
Therefore, it seems most fitting that Meredith, Grey’s Anatomy’s longest-standing protagonist, gets a perfect happy ending. Cured of the disease that wrecked her mother while inspiring her daughter to achieve greatness would be that ending. Even the fans, especially those who have stuck with the show for almost two decades now, deserve to see a happy, healthy, and surrounded-by-love Meredith.