Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice Wiki

Ellis Grey

4,999pages 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


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 a baby girl, 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 we were first introduced to Ellis, she 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. As a result, she seldom recognized her daughter, but delighted in visits from Richard Webber. When Richard decided to salvage his marriage to Adele, Meredith was forced to break the news to Ellis that he would not be visiting any more, which caused her to relive their initial break-up.

She briefly became lucid ("Wishin' and Hopin'") and the last thing she remembered was her fight with Meredith about going to medical school. On discovery she had Alzheimer's she was distraught and had a cardiac episode, leading to her being admitted to Seattle Grace. While she was there, she met Cristina and Derek, showing how perceptive she really is, working out the close relationship with Cristina and Meredith and working out Derek is the boyfriend, despite only short periods of contact with each of them.


While Meredith's life lingered in the balance after drowning, Ellis flatlined and was unable to be revived. And though her relationship with Meredith hadn't always been strong (she told her daughter that she was just 'ordinary' after finding out about Derek in her one day of lucidity), everything was set right and Meredith's feelings were fine with her mother's death when, as Meredith was hanging between life and death, she saw her mother's spirit who told her she was 'anything but ordinary.' She was later cremated, put into a beautiful urn, and for a time was "hanging out in the back of Meredith's closet." 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.

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, 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).

It's very likely that the new doctor working at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital is Richard's biological daughter with Ellis, as she, Maggie Pierce, stated that Ellis Grey is her birth mom. 

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.

Career Edit


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