Since 2005, Ellen Pompeo has led the cast of "Grey's Anatomy" — and bled more than her fair share as poor, traumatized Meredith Grey, who seems to have lost everyone and everything she's loved over 19 seasons; not to mention dying ... or nearly dying on more occasions that we can count.
When she wasn't sobbing over the death of her mother, father, half-sister, stepmother and best friends like George (T.R. Knight), she was busy overcoming the aftermaths of a plane crash, a bombing, a shooting, drowning and a COVID coma ... and we're just getting warmed up.
In honor of her farewell episode as a series regular airing Thursday at 8 p.m. on ABC, we ranked the most traumatic incidents of her tragedy-strewn life.
13. Meredith commits insurance fraud and gets fired
In the Season 15 finale, Meredith lists a young lymphoma patient as her daughter so the girl can get an expensive surgery. When her lie is found out, she's fired ... but quickly rehired, thankfully.
12. Meredith's house burns down
Okay, okay, by this Season 19 episode we knew Meredith was leaving the show. Did viewers really have to watch her lose her family home too?
11. George dies
George (Knight), one of the show's original characters, was tragically killed off in the Season 5 finale after being hit by a bus. In one of the best uses of misdirection ever, a patient arrives in the ER with severe injuries that leave him unrecognizable, while under the impression that George is off joining the military. It never crosses their mind that it could be him.
But when the patient spells out "007" — George's nickname — on Meredith's hand, she realizes the horrible truth. Season 5 left us hanging about whether it was George or Izzie (Katherine Heigl) who died, but the Season 6 opener revealed it was kind-hearted George's time.
10. Meredith's stepmother dies, and her father blames her
Sarah Grey (Mare Winningham), who Meredith thinks of as her "surrogate Mom," comes into the hospital with the hiccups and ends up dying in one of the cruelest turns of fate on the series. Meredith's already estranged father Thatcher (Jeff Perry) blames her for Sarah's death and now Meredith has to live with that.
9. Meredith drowns ... and no one notices
We would rank this extremely traumatic episode — in which Meredith does die temporarily after being knocked into the water following a ferry crash — much higher, but Meredith herself didn't seem to think dying was as big a deal as everyone else did.
8. Meredith nearly dies of COVID
Giving Mer COVID, putting her in a coma and nearly dying was traumatic for audiences and, of course, her family and fellow doctors. Thankfully, this was not how Pompeo's character was written off the show, but it was a tough watch as she fought for her life yet again ... the surprise cameos from past "Greys" favorites helped though.
7. Meredith gives birth and almost dies ... during a blackout!
As if giving birth wasn't dramatic enough, Mer had to have an emergency C-section after falling down the stairs and injuring her spleen. To really up the ante and make the operation even more precarious, the power is out thanks to a thunderstorm. Meredith and baby live, thanks to the calm, capable hands of Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson).
6. The bomb
Who could forget this iconic nail-biting Season 2 two-parter where Meredith holds a live explosive embedded in a patient on the operating table? Meredith is ready to be blown to smithereens to save everyone else in the hospital, but the head of the bomb squad (Kyle Chandler) is able to safetly extricate it ... until it blows up as he's trying to take it out of the building, killing him instantly.
Meredith is knocked back by the explosion (the stunt double got a concussion in the scene). Her friends drag the dazed and bleeding Meredith to the shower, where they carefully wash away the blood and residue from the bomb, but they can't wash away the image of Kyle's character getting blown to bits.
5. Her mother slit her wrists in front of her
When she was just a girl, Meredith's mother Ellis (played in flashbacks by Sarah Paulson) slit her wrists in front of her and ordered her not to call 911. This devastating childhood trauma is Exhibit A in why Meredith grew up "dark and twisty." When we first meet Ellis (played as an adult by Kate Burton), she has Alzheimer's, which makes their often volatile relationship even more heart-wrenching.
We had to suck in a breath when Meredith came home to a bloodied kitchen years later, after Karev's (Justin Chambers) mentally unstable patient and girlfriend had just slashed her wrists, leaving a shockingly stoic Meredith to clean up the mess.
4. The shooting
An angry widower, who blames Derek (Patrick Dempsey) for his wife's death, shoots Derek as Meredith looks on helplessly, while Cristina (Sandra Oh) holds her back. The gunman lets her and Cristina take Derek to the O.R. to save his life, where he then points the gun at Cristina. Meredith calmly tells the gunman to shoot her instead as all three lives hang in the balance.
3. The assault
Meredith is alone in a small, private room with a patient who suddenly goes into a fugue state and begins brutally attacking her. Since no one can hear or see the assault, the damage inflicted on her is horrific: Her leg and arm are broken, and so is her jaw. She also suffers a dislocated elbow and hearing loss in one ear. Her jaw has to be wired shut and when her children are finally allowed to see her, they're terrified of how she looks, causing her to have a panic attack.
The Season 12 episode charts her healing process over six weeks and the moment when she agrees to meet the patient, who had no idea of what he was doing and wants her forgiveness.
2. Derek dies
Meredith and Derek have been through so much on the series, but our hearts couldn't take it when he died after a car accident. Her bedside farewell is one of the most heartbreaking moments of the entire series.
1. The plane crash
In the most devastating episode ever, Meredith survives a plane crash, but has to watch half-sister Lexie (Chyler Leigh) die. As if that wasn't enough, the effects of the crash kept spreading, as Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) loses a leg and a strangely subdued Mark (Eric Dane) is revealed to have been fatally injured.