It's been three seasons since Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) tragically died on Grey's Anatomy and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) has yet to find someone to follow in his romantic footsteps. Sure, she had something with Riggs (Martin Henderson), but did you really feel anything for that pairing until you knew it was going to end? If you look deep down you'll know that you didn't.
Listen, there's nothing wrong with Meredith taking her time to get back into the romantic depths. Mer/Der was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love and no one here is trying to replace it, but it would be great if Meredith found someone on her level who could help bring those butterflies back. Luckily, our girl is swimming in options these days. In fact, we have ourselves a good old-fashioned love triangle (or potentially a square, just hear us out) shaping up on Grey's. Naturally, when there are multiple men to choose from, we must pit them against each other and force the internet to fight to the death over which one is exactly the right fit for Meredith. Get your comment typing fingers ready, because here we go.
Why we like him: Of the men vying for Meredith's affections, Link (Chris Carmack) is the most Derek-like. He's charming and compassionate, but he also has an air of arrogance that his surgery skills back up. He was introduced to the Grey Sloan staff as an "Ortho God," which is something Derek would have totally been into. At the same time, he's not on Koracick's (Gregg Germann) level of full-of-himself. Link will dazzle you with his surgical achievements and then give himself an impromptu haircut to cheer up a kid with cancer. It's the best of both worlds.
The downside: Link's attributes are also his downfall. While he's the most Derek-like, he could never actually be Derek, so why should Meredith waste her time with an imitation of the man she already loved and lost? Plus, Link thinks he can woo Meredith without understanding all her dark and twisty ways, and we're just not sure he can handle all of her complexities.
Why we like him: If you'd told me last season that I would be hardcore stanning DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) I would have laughed right in your face. I was so disinterested in his impromptu kiss with Meredith at Jo (Camilla Luddington) and Karev's (Justin Chambers) wedding that I repressed it until it was brought up in the Season 15 premiere. Then Meredith had that sex dream that I didn't hate at all... and then DeLuca stepped up in a big way in the fall finale when he told Meredith to consider him an option.
The way he said "Meredith" and stepped into her personal space stayed with me for days. He's a dark horse who came from behind but is steadily moving to the front of the pack, and that's because he's put in the time to really get to know Meredith and understand what she needs — even if she can't admit it's what she wants. He's the most likely to stick around when things get ugly, and that's what Meredith needs in a man most of all.
The downside: He's a senior resident, which makes him Meredith's junior. Grey's Anatomy is no stranger to attendings dating junior staff members (Derek was an attending and started dating Meredith when she was an intern), but it makes you wonder if this will make things messy in the long run. Could DeLuca hang out in a longterm relationship with someone who might always overshadow him professionally? That was a factor in his relationship with Maggie (Kelly McCreary), and we'll need to see he's grown from those mistakes.
Why we like him: Will I die on this ship? It seems entirely likely. However, the amount of pure chemistry Nick (Scott Speedman) and Meredith shared during his one episode cannot be forgotten, and I will fight for it for as long as there is air in my lungs. Nick and Meredith knew each other for only a few hours but were already including each other in their dream retirements. In that short amount of time, it seemed like Nick already had figured out Meredith and how to challenge her and push her out of her comfort zone, which is nearly impossible for anyone else to do. What they had was magic and it was crushing not to see Nick be the one to walk through the door at Joe's Pub as Meredith declared she was ready to find her next big love.
The downside: He lives in Montana, first of all, and secondly, it's a behind-the-scenes issue. Speedman told fans gathered at the ATX Television Festival at the beginning of the summer that he's probably not returning to the show. It is hard for an established actor to come into a show 15 seasons in and try and make a mark, which makes it unlikely we'll see Nick Marsh again... but if he did find his way back to Seattle, everyone would be here for him and Meredith making those hypothetical dreams come true.
Who do you think should be Meredith's next great love? Vote in our poll below.
Grey's Anatomy returns Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC in 2019!