‘Grey’s Anatomy’: If Meredith Hated Her Mother So Much, Why Did She Name Her Daughter After Her?

For fans of Grey’s Anatomy, everything in the surgery-centered show is worth dissecting. That includes seemingly small details like the name of Meredith’s youngest daughter, Ellis.

Meredith named her after her mother, Dr. Ellis Grey, with whom she had an extremely troublesome relationship. Recently in a thread on Reddit, fans of the show discussed why Meredith made the decision to honor her late mother like that when they had a less-than-lovely relationship.

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy
Ellen Pompeo | Mitch Haaseth via Getty Images

A dark and twisty relationship

Meredith’s relationship with her mother was a major storyline in the first couple of seasons. She’s the only person who knows that Ellis has early-onset Alzheimer’s and, because of that, is the only person able to visit her in her care facility.

As time goes on, Meredith begins resenting her mother for forcing her to keep this big secret and it affects her performance as a first-year surgical intern.

Throughout the show, we’ve learned more and more about what their relationship was like before Meredith began working at the hospital. As a child, Meredith never felt loved by her mother. Ellis was a career-driven woman, who should have been honest with herself from the beginning: she didn’t want to be a mother. She resented Meredith for the time she had to spend caring for her instead of performing surgeries.

As if that weren’t enough, Ellis tried to kill herself in front of five-year-old Meredith, who had to call 911 herself. It was a troubled relationship from the very beginning.

Ellis Shepherd

In season 11, after Derek’s death, Meredith packs her bags and leaves without telling anyone where she’s going. Far away from the heartache she felt in Seattle, we see Meredith’s life begin to parallel her mother’s.

She lost the love of her life and is pregnant, so she left her home to have the baby elsewhere. We see her pregnancy develop complications and her eldest daughter, Zola, has to call 911 for her — just like Meredith had to do around the same age. In the end, her youngest daughter is born and Meredith names her Ellis Shepherd.

The show’s writers likely made the decision to name Meredith’s new daughter Ellis because of the parallels between their stories. While Meredith is away from Seattle, it’s likely she spent a lot of time thinking about her relationship with her mother.

She never got the closure she needed, so following in her mother’s footsteps to have this baby likely felt as close to closure as she would ever get.

What do fans think?

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Fans seem to dislike her daughter’s namesake. It’s clearly an attempt to bring life back to Meredith’s troubled mother-daughter relationship, but fans feel that the show should have been paying more attention to Derek’s death than bringing back such an old storyline.

Meredith’s mother died back in Season 3. The timing didn’t seem quite right to focus so heavily on their relationship right after such a major death happened in the show.

Fans also were quick to point out that if the show wanted to honor a former character, then Meredith should have named her daughter after her late sister, Lexie Grey. Lexie was a fan favorite and died in the plane crash of Seasons 8-9.

They posit that they could have used Ellis as a middle name, but it would have made more sense for Meredith to want to pay homage to the sister she loved instead of the mother who couldn’t love her.

Regardless of the options the writers had, it’s clear they wanted the sentimental touch of mirroring Meredith’s storyline with Ellis’s, and it definitely struck a chord with fans of the show.