Love has always been tricky for Meredith Grey. Even when McDreamy was alive and well, their relationship had its ups and downs. But after Derek died in season 11, love became even more complicated for the widow. And before she learned to love again with DeLuca in season 15, Meredith almost had another man in her life. According to Grey’s Anatomy executive producer Krista Vernoff, they were looking to cast a potential love interest for the titular character in season 14. At least until the word got out.

“[TVLine’s] Michael Ausiello found out that we were casting a European scientist as a potential love interest for Meredith [Ellen Pompeo],” Vernoff tells EW. “When that got leaked, I went into the writers’ room and said, ‘That’s not interesting to me anymore. What else could this character be?’”

Credit: Byron Cohen/ABC via Getty Images

Just like that, Meredith’s new man disappeared and was replaced with … Marie Cerone? “That character became Marie Cerone [Rachel Ticotin], the old friend of Meredith’s mom [Kate Burton],” Vernoff says. “It was a much more interesting story than some temporary love interest. We changed it because we wanted to thwart expectations.”

In other words, Marie Cerone owes her existence to a spoiler.

A version of this story appears in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now, or buy your choice of two different Game of Thrones covers — Daenerys or the Starks. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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