HomeEntertainment NewsThe Post-it Note’s Return Explained

The Post-it Note’s Return Explained

Back in 2009, legendary TV couple Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) of Grey’s Anatomy simultaneously set the highest and lowest standards of romance when they wrote their wedding vows on a Post-it note in the resident’s lounge. Throughout their marriage, the Post-it was a symbol of MerDer’s enduring commitment, but after Derek’s death, it was also a constant, electric-blue reminder of a love story cut short by tragedy. When Meredith’s house caught fire during a lightning storm in the Season 19 fall finale of Grey’s Anatomy shortly before her move to Boston, the iconic Post-it note was saved from a fiery death. Through the survival of the beloved Post-it note, Meredith was reminded that while her love for Derek will always be a part of her, it was time to choose herself.


Related: In Defense of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’s Musical Episode

Where Did the Post-it Note Come From on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?

The Post-it’s origins date back to Season 5, Episode 24 “Now or Never,” when Meredith and Derek plan to go to City Hall to get married but can’t seem to find the time. Lost in a lavender haze before anybody knows that John Doe is George O’Malley (T.R Knight), Meredith and Derek write their vows on a Post-it, using a stack of sticky notes and Cristina’s (Sandra Oh) favorite pen as their things old, new, borrowed, and blue. They later get legally married at the end of Season 7 in order to adopt Zola, but the Post-it continued to be the real symbol of their commitment to one another.

In Season 6, when Derek draws his patient’s inoperable spinal tumor on the wall above his and Meredith’s bed, the camera pans up to their framed and mounted wedding Post-it, as Meredith observes Derek’s intellect and passion and is reminded of all the reasons she loves her husband. Throughout Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith and Derek are also allowed to “call Post-it,” meaning that even when they’re at odds, they have to choose each other above all else. For example, when Derek wants to report Richard (James Pickens Jr.) to the board because of his alcoholism, Meredith “calls Post-it” and tells Derek that he can’t betray her friend. Later in the show when Derek wants to follow his career to D.C. and force Meredith to abandon hers, leaving their marriage up in the air, Derek “calls Post-it” and chooses a life with Meredith and their kids.

The Post-it Note Symbolizes Meredith and Derek’s Love

Image via ABC

Speaking of D.C., while their sticky note vows may have survived a fire, we all know that Meredith and Derek’s love story throughout Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t quite so indestructible. While Derek was a brilliant surgeon and a devoted husband, he had an enormous ego, and that combined with Meredith’s flight-risk tendencies led them to have many turbulent moments. Meredith fell for Derek as a young intern, and when she later learned that he was married to badass bombshell surgeon Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh), she was left feeling abandoned and insecure.

In Season 2 Episode 5, we get one of Grey’s Anatomy’s most quoted scenes when Meredith corners Derek in a scrub room and lays out all the reasons that he should be with her instead of Addison. She ends her speech by saying “Pick me, choose me, love me,” and the idea of shrinking herself to be with Derek became a troubling recurring theme. Throughout her marriage, Meredith, while a confident and fiercely independent woman, also had to constantly fight to have her career seen as important. Derek’s arrogance didn’t leave much room for her ambition, and Meredith often had to justify her desires.

However, Meredith and Derek’s love was strong, and they eventually resolved their issues (shoutout to the Post-it) with Derek agreeing to stay in Seattle after traveling once more to D.C. As we all remember, this turned out to be an ill-fated trip and Derek was struck by a semi-truck, later dying in an under-prepared ER. Following her husband’s death, Meredith returns home and lays in her half-empty bed, staring up at the Post-it on the wall and feeling an overwhelming urge to escape (which, of course, she does). Upon her return to Seattle almost a year later, the Post-it sits on her dresser until she falls for new trauma surgeon Nathan Riggs (Martin Henderson) and tucks her vows away in a drawer in order to let herself move on.

The Post-it Note’s Return Helps Meredith Realize That She Needs to Put Herself First

Ellen Pompeo in Grey's Anatomy
Image via ABC

Flash forward to Season 19, and Meredith finds herself at a crossroads when she’s torn between moving to Boston because of Zola’s (Aniela Gumbs) education and promising Alzheimer’s research, and staying in Seattle with her new love interest Nick Marsh (Scott Speedman). While Nick is arguably her best post-Derek boyfriend, Meredith is once again being asked to choose between her own desires and her partner’s, and ultimately she decides to make the move. Soon before her departure, Meredith’s sister Maggie (Kelly McCreary) finds the Post-it while helping to pack Zola’s room, and then manages to take it with her when the house catches fire in a freak lightning storm. When Meredith arrives on the scene, Maggie hands her the framed Post-it, and Meredith clutches it to her chest as she watches forty years of family history go up in flames.

While this moment is devastating (even though we later learn that the house survived the fire with virtually no damage), Meredith’s reunion with the Post-it is also incredibly symbolic. While the Post-it reminded Meredith of the potential for great love stories, it also reminded her that she needs to put herself first. In a great callback moment to the “pick me, choose me, love me” scene from eighteen years prior, Meredith goes to the hospital and finds Nick in a scrub room. She goes on to tell him that while she wants him in her life, she’s going to choose herself and her children, and she isn’t going to beg him to love her. In this moment we’re shown how much Meredith has grown since her intern years, and that while romantic love is beautiful and powerful, it isn’t everything.

When Meredith leaves Seattle in Season 19, she’s not escaping a trauma, but rather moving on from a place she’s outgrown. Was pretending not to hear Nick’s proclamation of love over the phone the best way to end their relationship? No, but we have to remember that while Meredith may have grown up a lot since we met her, she’s still our complicated (but beloved) twisted sister. The return of the Post-it note was vital to showing that Meredith was making the right choice in leaving Seattle, and reminded her that while her marriage to Derek was full of love, she should never have to sacrifice her dreams for a man.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments

%d bloggers like this: