Ellen Pompeo Got ‘Frustrated’ by ‘Grey’s’ for Not Letting Meredith ‘Figure Out How to Make a Relationship Work’: She Can ‘Stop Making Bad Decisions’

Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey had many love interests over 19 seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy,” from Patrick Dempsey’s Derek Shepherd to Scott Speedman’s Nick Marsh, but such constant relationship conflict ultimately became a source of frustration for the actor. During a “Grey’s” reunion interview with Katherine Heigl as part of Variety’s Pompeo lamented over Meredith’s lack of growth in her love life.

“When you stay on a show and with a character that long…for me, I really need to make sense of things and I really need to see evolution and growth,” Pompeo said. “And with network television specifically, there has to be some consistency for the audience. The audience wants familiarity. The writers get stuck in the consistency of something, and it’s harder, which I always would argue against and say, ‘We have such an incredible fan base. They’re so loyal. They’ll literally come along with us no matter what we do.’ I think it’s okay for Meredith to stop making bad decisions.”

Pompeo wanted Meredith’s love life to stop being a source of conflict for the character, as it proved her inability to grow from previous relationships she had.

“One of my frustrations is the Nick and Meredith of it all,” Pompeo said. “Scott Speedman plays Meredith’s love interest, Nick Marsh, and I love Speedman. He’s fantastic. And somehow, Meredith can’t figure out how to make a relationship work still after all this time. And I guess if she were to make it work, then where’s the conflict?…There has to be conflict. It’s not that I don’t think there shouldn’t be conflict. There should be conflict. I guess I just have different ideas about what the conflict should be.”

Pompeo stepped down from her series regular role on “Grey’s” in February, midway through the show’s 19th season. Until that point, Pompeo had been the face of “Grey’s” since its 2005 pilot episode.

“I’ve been on the show so long, I’m happy to let that go,” Pompeo told Heigl about about moving on, although she added “it’s a little bit of trickery, because I’m not completely gone.”

Pompeo is no longer a series regular on “Grey’s,” but she still provides voiceover as Meredith remains the narrator of every episode. The door remains open for her to return, as she did in May during the Season 19 finale.

“I will be making some appearances hopefully next year, if I can find some time,” Pompeo told Heigl.

Pompeo has often been vocal about her issues with “Grey’s Anatomy.” On an episode of her “Tell Me” podcast last August, she encouraged the series to change the way it approaches stories about social issues. She said she grew tired of episode one-offs and wanted social issues to be more “subtly” threaded through a season.

“I think if I had any desire honestly it would be to be less sort of preachy in one episode about certain things,” Pompeo said at the time. “It’s like, we do one episode about let’s see…Asian hate crimes is one that we did this past season that was really moving. I think I’d like to see things happen a little more subtly and over time. You know, consistently and less sort of hit you over the head for just one hour and then we never talk about it again.”

“Grey’s Anatomy” will return to ABC for a 20th season. Click here to read Pompeo and Heigl’s full “Actors on Actors” conversation.

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