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Grey's Anatomy: The theory that will break your heart

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ABC/Michael Desmond

Roll with me for a second here, Grey’s Anatomy fans. The following piece is mere speculation and not based in any first-hand knowledge or reporting — just my years of being a student of Shondaland and fan of the longtime show.

Ever wonder why Grey Sloan has the worst luck? Two hospital shootings, a flood, an earthquake. One of the doctors was hit by a bus. Another was run down by a semi-truck while stopped in the middle of the road. And a third was electrocuted. Half a dozen doctors wound up in a plane crash. And one flew through the front windshield of her car and lived to tell the tale.

Sure, this string of tragedies and accidents may just be the result of 13 seasons of Shonda Rhimes and the Grey’s Anatomy writers keeping the action and drama abundant, but what if there’s more to it? What if some of this never really happened? How would that be the case?

Grey’s Anatomy fans have speculated before the series could end with the revelation that Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) has Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. It’s the disease that led to the demise of Ellis Grey (Kate Burton), Meredith’s mother, in season 3, and Meredith tested positive for several genetic markers for Alzheimer’s in season 9.

Alzheimer’s disease first found its way to Grey’s Anatomy in the pilot. In that episode, Meredith’s voiceover narration was revealed to be a story she was telling her mother at an assisted living facility. Could Meredith’s subsequent voiceovers be stories she now tells her three children sometime in the future? And if Meredith suffers from dementia, perhaps her memories of the hospital glory days are altered, and her tale twines fact and fiction.

Much like in the “If/Then” episode — in which Meredith’s mother was never diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, changing many of the dynamics throughout the hospital — perhaps Future Meredith is supplying (somewhat) happier endings for her fellow interns than what actually happened.

In that alternate-reality episode, George didn’t die in that bus accident but flunked his intern exam and was never heard from again, and Izzie was just an unstable intern who got fired after stealing a heart for her patient Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Instead, Meredith remembers George dying a hero and Izzie bravely surviving cancer and going off on her own — relatively happier, or at least more meaningful, endings.

If the theory about Meredith’s future is true, perhaps Derek (Patrick Dempsey) didn’t die tragically in season 11 when they were happily married; maybe, in reality, Derek left Meredith, but Meredith doesn’t remember it that way.

It’s a heartbreaking outcome, and it’s everything Meredith has feared since the beginning of the show. So, do you think the story of Grey’s Anatomy is the product of Meredith’s Alzheimer’s? Or is Grey Sloan really just a dangerous place to work? Vote in the poll below.

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