Warning: SPOILERS for Grey’s Anatomy season 18 ahead.
Nick and Meredith’s relationship might be smooth sailing in Grey’s Anatomy season 18, but the direction it could go only risks confirming that Grey’s Anatomy has a problem with love stories ending happily. The medical drama has long been infamous for letting its main characters fall in love before abruptly separating them and ruining their chance at a happily-ever-after. The only couples who either ended up together or had the chance to rebuild their romantic relationship did so off-screen after the actors who played them had left the show.
While only starting dating at the beginning of Grey’s Anatomy season 18, Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith and Nick Marsh (Scott Speedman) had long been a fan-favorite couple after Meredith performed the surgery that saved him in season 14. Despite living in different states, Nick and Meredith managed to spend time together as she decided to start working on a trial to cure Parkinson’s at the Grey Center in Rochester, Minnesota, created precisely to lure her there by David Hamilton (Peter Gallagher). After the trial’s success, Hamilton offered Meredith a permanent place at the Grey Center, which might seem a positive outcome for Meredith and Nick’s relationship, but it could also put a strain on it, as the job might mean more time spent with Nick, but also less time with her kids in Seattle.
Grey’s Anatomy season 18 clearly described Nick and Meredith as being serious with each other, as they respectively met their families in season 18 episodes 12 and 13. Grey’s Anatomy season 18 episode 12 saw Meredith meeting Nick’s niece Charlotte in Minnesota, and the following episode had Nick have dinner with Zola, Ellis, and Bailey Shepherd in Seattle, proving they want to continue their relationship. If that were to potentially bring Meredith and her children to Minnesota to accept Hamilton’s offer, though, it would also mean Meredith would have to leave Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, thus leaving the show and proving Grey’s Anatomy characters can only ever seem to find their happily-ever-after off-screen after leaving the show.
Despite happening out of the blue and causing Grey’s Anatomy’s fans to prefer Karev dead over the storyline that ended up writing him off the show, Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) was one of the characters finding his happily-ever-after with Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) only off-screen and far away from Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Similarly, Jesse Williams’ exit from Grey’s Anatomy granted Jackson Avery and April Kepner (Sarah Drew) the chance to move their family outside Seattle and away from Grey Sloan, and while that didn’t guarantee a happy ending for their romantic relationship, their final episode together in season 17 heavily implied it. Callie Torres went to New York for love, and even Yang moved away for happiness in her career. Meredith moving her family to Minnesota might give her the happy ending with Nick she deserves, but it would do so away from Seattle, as has happened to many friends and coworkers before her, furthering the deep-seated belief no romantic relationship can end happily at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.
Grey’s Anatomy’s happy ending problem might be refuted if the show ended with Meredith moving to Minnesota for a new exciting job like the one Hamilton offered her, but the medical drama has already been renewed for season 19. Meredith could indeed accept the job part-time as she did for the Parkinson’s trial, letting her split her time between Seattle and Rochester, but that couldn’t count as a proper happily-ever-after, as Nick and her would still only spend little time with each other, at least considering the concern they both voiced about spending not enough time together. Moreover, it could strain their relationship, risking them breaking up, which would only finally prove how Grey’s Anatomy is unable to portray a romantic couple having their happily-ever-after.