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Grey’s Anatomy: Why Meredith Will End Up With Hayes

As Grey’s Anatomy continues to follow Meredith, the writers seem to be positioning Dr. Cormac Hayes as her potentially perfect romantic partner.

As Grey’s Anatomy continues to follow Meredith’s life and career, the writers seem to be positioning Dr. Cormac Hayes as her potentially perfect romantic partner. The hit medical drama has a long history of introducing new beaus for its titular character – the very first episode began in medias res right after Meredith’s first night with Derek Shepherd, after all. But, after Derek’s untimely death in season 11, Meredith’s romantic entanglements have been rare and, for the most part, fleeting. Could Dr. Hayes a.k.a. “McWidow” change all of that before the series’ end?

Considering early interactions between the two, such a question would have been thought, by many, almost unbelievable. Having formerly worked with Cristina Yang in Switzerland, Hayes transferred to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital’s pediatric surgery department, eventually becoming the Head of Pediatric Surgery in the wake of Alex Karev’s abrupt exit from the show. Almost immediately, the Irish surgeon butted heads with Meredith, often challenging her medical opinions and paying absolutely no mind to her prestigious Harper Avery Award win.

However, as with so many past and original Grey’s Anatomy characters, Hayes was revealed to be not all that he appeared. Gradually, Meredith and the audience learned more of the newcomer’s fairly recent past, which left him a single father after the tragic death of his late wife, Abigail. The show’s writers have sporadically included flashback scenes to better flesh out Hayes’ backstory, effectively turning the outwardly cold man that Meredith first met into a far more sympathetic and relatable figure. In short, Hayes’ story, which involves a determined perseverance in the wake of great personal loss, mirrors that of Meredith’s.

This shared experience and demonstrable fortitude make the idea of a Meredith-Cormac coupling a satisfying one on a narrative level. Since the former’s earlier arc revolved heavily around Meredith and Derek (the seasons-long “will-they-or-won’t-they” drama, their professional competition, and, later, grappling with his death), his specter still looms large on the show and, for some fans, a conclusion in which Meredith ends up with someone else could be hard to reconcile. Yet, considering Hayes’ own history with bereavement, he will be the first to understand that he can in no way replace Derek, just as Meredith couldn’t ever fully replace Abigail. Instead, with each other, they could be finally given the permission to find a new happiness while still remembering the partners who, though gone, helped to shape them.

All of this is not to say that Dr. Meredith Grey needs to end up with anyone before the show reaches its eventual conclusion – she is a highly accomplished surgeon, a remarkable person, and the glue that keeps her family and community together. However, Grey’s Anatomy season 17 has been, perhaps in preparation for a series wrap-up, not-so-subtly pairing off many of its other major players. Jackson moved to Boston with April, his ex-wife. Catherine and Richard, Teddy and Owen, and Schmidt and Nico have all reconciled. Maggie, in a beautiful sun-kissed ceremony, got married to Winston. So, with a multitude happily ever afters in reach for so many characters, why shouldn’t Meredith get one, too – especially if her partner is understanding and supportive of her?

With so many seasons of Grey’s Anatomy behind us, it is forgivable to forget that much of the show’s early story was constructed to juxtapose Meredith with her ailing mother. A brilliant surgeon, Ellis Grey pushed everyone away from her, essentially dying alone. With so much of season 17 showing Meredith undergoing her own life-and-death struggle, it is not accidental that she was surrounded by a small army of people who have come to love and respect her. Meredith Grey is an award-winning surgeon and exceptional doctor because her personal connections don’t diminish her talent. Instead, they – along with her passion and willingness to occasionally break rules to do what’s right – enhance it. Should the series end with Meredith’s happy coupling with Hayes, it could be unquestionable proof that she, unlike her mother, is capable of having it all. After so many years of struggle, growth, and loss, she’s certainly earned it.

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