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Meredith Grey prayer hands Grey's Anatomy Season 13 ABC

A casting leak led Grey's Anatomy's showrunner to axe Meredith Grey's post-Nathan Riggs relationship. However, it also led to the creation of a new character for Season 14.

Grey's Anatomy Season 13 had ended with Riggs (Martin Henderson) running off to be with Megan Hunt (Abigail Spencer), who was newly discovered to be alive. You may have recalled reading about plans for Grey's Anatomy to cast a 40-something doctor in Season 14 to be Meredith's new love interest.

Well, here's why showrunner Krista Vernoff scrapped those plans:

[TVLine’s] Michael Ausiello found out that we were casting a European scientist as a potential love interest for Meredith. 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?’

Guess we can safely say that leak did not come from Krista Vernoff herself, based on what she told EW. Instead, they decided to switch the character around, and cast Rachel Ticotin for the newly created role of Dr. Marie Cerone. Marie was an old family friend of Meredith's mother Ellis Grey, before the two had a falling out. Season 14 delved into the troubling backstory of Ellis allegedly stealing a surgical innovation she and Marie had worked on together, leading to Ellis' second Harper Avery award.

Grey's Anatomy Marie Cerone played by Rachel Ticotin ABC

Here's more from Krista Vernoff to EW on swapping Mer's new doc love interest for Marie Cerone:

It was a much more interesting story than some temporary love interest. We changed it because we wanted to thwart expectations.

For the record, here's the spoiler that TVLine had posted on the new doc casting in November 2017:

Question: I’m still perplexed as to why Grey’s Anatomy gave Martin Henderson the heave-ho. Any intel on what’s next for Meredith now that Nathan is no longer in the picture? —Tammy

Ausiello: For the record, I’m a bit perplexed, too. 'Merthan' was growing on me. The good news: Grey’s remains committed to finding a new love for Mer. Sources confirm to me exclusively that the show is quietly searching for a fortysomething actor to play a major new love interest opposite Ellen Pompeo. Character details are sketchy, but I’m told the guy in question will be a doctor from a foreign country who is sexy, fiery, impulsive and passionate about medicine. He also shares something major in common with Mer in that one of his parents (in his case his pa) was/is a renowned surgeon.

It's possible the change also came from reaction to the idea of Meredith getting another love interest so quickly after Riggs. Ellen Pompeo had said she was surprised at how quickly ABC wanted to get another penis into the picture after Derek died. But ultimately, she said, they didn't like the Riggs storyline so they ended it. This new doc was meant to be her next romance, but instead Mer focused more on work in Season 14, until the season ended with an unexpected kiss from Dr. Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti).

Grey's Anatomy Season 15 saw Meredith briefly play the field -- including one date with a character played by How I Met Your Mother's Josh Radnor -- and gave her a love triangle between new doc Link (Chris Carmack) and DeLuca. Mer went with DeLuca, and Link is now with Derek's sister Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone).

Grey's Anatomy Season 15 was billed as the Season of Love, but that news only came out after previous reports suggested Meredith might spend the season focused more on her work and children, since Ellen Pompeo wasn't in a rush to give Meredith another love interest.

Since they were determined to give Mer a new love interest anyway, I thought it might be Dr. Tom Koracick (Greg Germann). I thought he and Meredith had a playful chemistry, but Koracick has that chemistry with everyone. Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) just dumped him, but he doesn't know it yet, so Season 16 should show Dr. Koracick wide open for a new relationship. Actor Greg Germann is one of three stars who just got promoted to series regular status for the 2019-2020 season, so I'm looking forward to seeing a lot more from him, with or without a relationship.

Dr. Meredith Grey is not single, although her boyfriend was last seen in prison, taking the blame for her insurance fraud. Meredith was one of three doctors fired in the Season 15 finale, and she may be going to prison herself, although we shouldn't expect either of those events to last too long. She's the star of the show, after all.

Many Grey's Anatomy fans are still getting used to the idea of Meredith and DeLuca as a couple. Krista Vernoff said she was shocked by the backlash to Meredith finding love after Derek's death:

For me, that is not even a valid debate. I am shocked that anyone could simultaneously love a character and wish that she remain without romantic love for the rest of her life no matter how long her life is. That seems like a cruelty. And it seems like a cruelty rooted in reverence for her first love and I don't relate to it. I don't understand it. The idea that anyone could root for her to live a loveless life after being widowed at such a young age is crazy to me.

Some fans weren't upset with Meredith finding love, they just didn't see that love happening with DeLuca. Many viewers had hoped she'd be with Scott Speedman's Dr. Nick Marsh, if not Koracick, Link, someone new, or even her BFF Alex. (Mer and Alex fans should probably give up on that idea now that Jolex is married and probably working on a baby in Season 16.)

Find out what happens next for Meredith, Jo and Alex, Jackson and Maggie, Glasses and Nico, Owen and Teddy, etc. when Grey's Anatomy Season 16 premieres this September on ABC. Don't forget that ABC already renewed Grey's for Season 17, so we know the show will continue until at least 2021. That is pretty amazing. The question is where Meredith's life -- romance and otherwise -- will be at that point. Will she still be with DeLuca? Will they fast-forward into the future to show her grown children? We'll have to wait and see.

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