Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice Wiki

Ellis Grey

5,533pages on
this wiki
Ellis Grey
Biographical information

August 6, 1953


2007, Seattle



  • Sugar
  • Nurse
  • Girl
  • Little Lady
  • Dead Mommy


Family information
Professional Information

Attending General Surgeon

Character information
First appearance

A Hard Day's Night

Last appearance

She's Leaving Home


GA: 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, and 11

Portrayed By
It's awful being a grownup. But the carousel never stops turning. You can't get off."
— Ellis Grey

Ellis Grey was the mother of Meredith Grey and the ex-wife of Thatcher Grey. She was also the birth mother of Maggie Pierce. During her time, she was a world famous surgeon who was twice honored with the Harper Avery Award. She was later diagnosed with Alzheimer's.


Early LifeEdit

Ellis was born on August 6, 1953. Little to nothing is known about her childhood. At some point in her life, she met Thatcher Grey. They married, and welcomed Meredith into their lives in 1978.

Affair with RichardEdit

Meanwhile, Ellis had finished med school and started her surgical residency at Seattle Grace Hospital, where she was often looked down on as she was one of the few and first female surgeons. Due to her large professional drive and her wanting to prove herself, she worked a lot and didn't spend much time with her family.


Ellis is left alone after Richard chooses Adele.

She bonded with her fellow resident Richard, who was also being looked down on because of his skin color. They soon started off an affair and began planning a life together. In June 1983, the two of them made a deal to tell their spouses about their affair and leave them, as they didn't want to continue cheating. Right after making the deal, Richard overheard that Ellis was put on the short list for the Harper Avery Award for the Grey Method, being the first resident to ever make it onto that list. That night, Ellis told Thatcher, but Richard chose to be with his wife, Adele, because he was hopelessly jealous of Ellis's professional success and didn't want to feel like that his entire life. 


Ellis slit her wrists.

Suicide AttemptEdit

Devastated over the fact that Richard left her, Ellis slit her wrists in front of Meredith as a cry for Richard's attention. Ellis told Meredith not to be scared of the blood and forbade her to call 911. Eventually, Ellis passed out and Meredith called 911. Ellis was transported to the ER and her life was saved thanks to Meredith.


While being treated, Ellis was discovered to be pregnant with Richard's child, which is why she decided to move to Boston. She stopped drinking wine and wrote down what she ate in her journals, indicating Ellis did want her baby to be healthy. Ellis took her daughter with her and they hid in their apartment. Ellis cried a lot, but Meredith knew not to ask any questions. Eventually, Ellis's water broke and she gave birth to Maggie on November 22, 1983, giving her up for adoption. She was sure she wanted to sign away all her rights to the baby, because she needed to start over after Richard left her. She wanted to find a way to step off the carousel, to start again.

Living in BostonEdit

Then, Ellis and Meredith didn't have to hide anymore, so they moved across town to a nice house. Meredith started first grade and Ellis started her fellowship at Mass Gen, continuing her career.


When Meredith started her internship, Ellis was suffering from Alzheimer's and resided at the Roseridge Home for Extended Care. Her case was advanced, and she most often thought she was still completing her residency.

After her disease progressed to the point where she could no longer handle her own affairs, they had her sign everything over to Meredith. ("Shake Your Groove Thing")


Ellis was brought to the hospital with cramping pain and diarrhea. Because of her Alzheimer's, she was confused and aggressive. She believed that George was Thatcher and Burke was Richard. Scans confirmed diverticulitis, but also revealed a liver mass. They biopsied the mass, but it was found to be benign. ("Make Me Lose Control")

They removed the mass and three days later, she was stable and recovering well. She disappeared from her hospital bed and was found around the hospital wearing scrubs and thinking she was still a doctor. They got her to come back to her room, but she disappeared again, this time going to a scrub room to prepare for a surgery she believed she'd be doing. Because of her multiple escapes, she had to be put in restraints. ("Deny, Deny, Deny")

Once she had recovered, she was discharged back to Roseridge. ("Bring the Pain")

Alzheimer's TrialEdit

After finding out that Ellis had Alzheimer's, Richard began to visit her at Roseridge. He then asked Derek to come check on Ellis and see if she was eligible for an Alzheimer's research trial. She was and Richard convinced Meredith to agree. ("Begin the Begin")

Richard's VisitsEdit

Richard started visiting Ellis after her Alzheimer's was revealed to him. They shared stories of their residency, a time she remembered well. Meredith saw them together and after thinking about it, told Richard he should keep visiting her as it made her happy. ("Break on Through")

Refusal to EatEdit

The nursing home called Meredith because Ellis had been refusing to eat. Ellis said she didn't have time because she was working. When Richard showed up with food for her, she immediately started eating it. Meredith later had to break the news to Ellis that Richard wouldn't be visiting her anymore because he'd decided to commit himself back to his marriage. ("Staring at the Sun")

While reliving the first time Richard left her, she had to be reminded that it had happened thirty years prior. ("Don't Stand So Close to Me")


One morning, Ellis woke up in her nursing home completely lucid. She remembered everything except the last five years and the fact that she had Alzheimer's. Ms. Henry thought it was best that Meredith tell her about the Alzheimer's. Ellis apologized to Meredith for the fight they'd had and tried to figure out why she was in a home. Meredith told her she had Alzheimer's and that she lived in a residential facility. Ellis started to cry and then collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital. They ran tests to determine the cause of her arrhythmias. Because she was in the Alzheimer's research trial, she asked for a consult with the neurosurgeon who got her into the trial. When she met with Derek, she figured out that Meredith was seeing him. Ellis was diagnosed with a heart condition that could be treated with meds, but Burke decided to do surgery because Meredith said she's often not compliant with medication. She tried to refuse the surgery, but since Meredith was her medical proxy, it wasn't Ellis's decision to make. Meredith said she wouldn't let Ellis refuse the surgery because she said killing her mother wouldn't be another thing that happened to her. During her last lucid moments, she reminisced with Richard about the life they could have had together. Meredith came back and told Ellis that she still hoped they'd find a cure and the two of them would have another chance to get to know each other, but by then, she wasn't lucid anymore. ("Wishin' and Hopin'")


Ellis became agitated and aggressive, so she was given lorazepam to calm her down. Later that day, she coded and was unable to be resuscitated. ("Some Kind of Miracle")

Posthumous HistoryEdit

Meredith's Near-Death ExperienceEdit

When Meredith drowned in Elliot Bay, she saw her mother in a sort of afterlife, saying she didn't belong there. She said that Meredith was anything but ordinary before telling her to run. ("Some Kind of Miracle")


She was later cremated, put into a beautiful urn, and for a time was "hanging out in the back of Meredith's closet." ("Scars and Souvenirs")

Her ashes were later washed down a surgical sink at Seattle Grace Hospital by Meredith and Richard, who saw it as a fitting tribute for her final resting place to be so closely associated with the hospital which she dedicated her life to. ("Haunt You Every Day")

Alternate UniverseEdit

In the alternate universe, Ellis never developed Alzheimer's, Richard chose her instead of Adele, and they raised Meredith together. Ellis is also Chief of Surgery and Chief of Staff at Seattle Grace. 


She was extremely overbearing, intense, arrogant, driven, and hardworking.



Richard WebberEdit


Richard leaves Ellis for Adele.

During her residency, she had an affair with former SGH Chief of Surgery, Dr. Richard Webber, when they were both residents. As residents, the two doctors had a defining moment in both their careers and their relationship when they took care of one of the first patients diagnosed with G.R.I.D. (Gay-related immune deficiency, an early name for AIDS).

Late in their relationship, Ellis became pregnant by Richard. She gave the baby up for adoption at birth.

Thatcher GreyEdit

She was married about 30 years ago to Thatcher Grey, who left the family when Meredith was young, partly as a result of Ellis's affair. Ellis and Richard planned to leave their respective partners and get married but eventually Richard chose Adele over Ellis, although he did still have feelings for her.

Ellis decided to slit her wrists in front of Meredith and forbade her to call an ambulance. When her mother passed out Meredith rang an ambulance and her mother lived. Years later with the help of her psychiatrist Meredith realized that her mother wasn't trying to commit suicide, she cut her wrists in the hopes that Richard would find out and take her back. However, Richard never heard about the incident and she was too stubborn to ask.


Elizabeth FallonEdit

Liz Fallon was Ellis's scrub nurse for 18 years. When Liz was dying of cancer, Meredith went to see her and after Liz made a comment about Ellis's perfect memory and Meredith couldn't stop laughing, so Liz asked what Ellis was diagnosed with. Shocked, Meredith ended up telling Liz about Ellis's Alzheimer's. Liz revealed that while she'd been Ellis's scrub nurse, she never met Meredith. When Meredith mentioned meeting Liz, Ellis remembered her fondly, that she was a great scrub nurse, asking how she was. ("No Man's Land")

It is unclear when those 18 years occured as Liz Fallon worked at Seattle Grace and Ellis left Seattle after her residency and later worked at Mass Gen, The Mayo Clinic and for the U.N. It has been strongly implied that she never returned to work at Seattle Grace.



Ellis tells Meredith to be extraordinary.

Ellis completed her surgical residency at Seattle Grace Hospital. She was the only female in her residency class. During her residency, along with Richard Webber, she treated and identified the hospital's first G.R.I.D. patient. During her final year of residency, Ellis created an audacious laparocopic technique to treat gallbladders and subsequently named it, audaciously, The Grey Method when it was published by The American Journal of Medicine. She listed herself as first author, and it put her on the short list for her first Harper Avery nomination. The nomination itself was groundbreaking as no resident ever had been nominated.

After her divorce with Thatcher and break-up with Richard, Ellis moved with Meredith to pursue a fellowship position at Massachusetts General Hospital. She then won the Harper Avery and dedicated the win to all the female surgeons in the world that would come after her. Ellis continued to be a pioneer in surgery as her distinguished career included tenures at Boston General, the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and for the U.N., and won another Harper Avery award.

She has also documented a significant aspect of her surgical training, in the form of videos, which were watched while the group were still interns, and in her journals, writing about her relationship with Richard and her surgical training, referencing staff at Seattle Grace, such as Margaret Campbell, and which Cristina greatly enjoys, for both medicine and romance. According to her journals, the decision of whether or not Ellis would get the first solo surgery was the greatest and most terrifying moment in her life.

Notes and TriviaEdit


Notable EpisodesEdit

These episodes are Ellis-centric or otherwise very informative about her life.

Memorable Quotes Edit

Anyone can fall in love and be blindly happy, but not everyone can pick up a scalpel and save a life.

You're waiting for inspiration, are you kidding me? I have a disease for which there is no cure, I think that would be inspiration enough!

You grew up. It's a shame. It's awful being a grown-up.

You are anything but ordinary, Meredith.

He's gone back to Adele. Of course he has. He's afraid. Afraid to be happy. And I'm all alone. Now I have to raise my daughter alone. How am I expected to do that?

See AlsoEdit


Grey's Anatomy, Season 1

A Hard Day's Night · No Man's Land · Shake Your Groove Thing

Grey's Anatomy, Season 2

Make Me Lose Control · Deny, Deny, Deny · Bring the Pain · Begin the Begin · Break on Through · Yesterday

Grey's Anatomy, Season 3

Time Has Come Today · Staring at the Sun · Don't Stand So Close to Me · Wishin' and Hopin' · Walk on Water · Some Kind of Miracle

Grey's Anatomy, Season 6

The Time Warp

Grey's Anatomy, Season 8


Grey's Anatomy, Season 11

I Must Have Lost It on the Wind · Only Mama Knows · She's Leaving Home

Start a Discussion Discussions about Ellis Grey

  • Recap on Only Mama Knows

    32 messages
    • I wonder if Maggie will ever state why she pursued Cardio. Dr. Burke I think mentioned why he went into it at some point, Dr. Hahn never mentio...
    • It's not so much how many cardio surgeons they've been through. It's how many different department heads they've been through. Burke, Hahn, Ted...
  • Kate Burton's return

    67 messages
    • So will the episodes on the Canadian Network air before the episodes that air on Thursdays, regularly?
    • Yep, starting five episodes in. Which is why we've made it the official policy that until the episode has aired in the US (Thursday at ...

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki