She’s back! During the May 18 Grey’s Anatomy season finale, Ellen Pompeo stepped back into the role of Meredith Grey — and into a very familiar t-shirt. When Meredith’s fellow doctors travel to Boston for the Catherine Fox Awards, they convene at her lab and find her hunched over research (in “mad scientist mode,” as Nick puts it). “We have to question everything we know about Alzheimer’s if we’re gonna cure it,” Meredith says.
It’s good to see Meredith entering a new era of her career, and maybe making medical history while she’s at it. But despite leveling up, she’s still very much the same old Mer — as evidenced by the Dartmouth t-shirt she wears in the lab. Does it remind you of something? It should! Meredith actually wore the same shirt (or one just like it) while visiting her mom’s assisted living facility in the very first episode of Grey’s Anatomy ever. Fitting, then, that she dons the same tee while trying to cure her mom’s illness.
This isn’t the only time the shirt has resurfaced, though. In fact, Meredith wore the shirt on several occasions throughout Grey’s Anatomy. She was a fan of it during the early days of dating Derek, for example. After Meredith almost died during the Season 2 hospital explosion, she was getting existential about forgetting their last kiss (they were on a break at that point). “It was a Thursday morning,” Derek said. “You were wearing that ratty little Dartmouth t-shirt you look so good in. The one with the hole in the back of the neck. You’d just washed your hair. You smelled like some kind of... flower.”
There’s another good reason why the Dartmouth t-shirt gets so much screen time on Grey’s Anatomy, too: it’s not just Mer’s alma mater, but series creator Shonda Rhimes’ too. By the end of her undergraduate career, she was running the Black Underground Theater Association — an experience that cemented her long-running creative career.
“One of our productions that year was George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum. It’s a fantastic play, but it was also very challenging to put on,” she recalled in a recent interview with the school. “We all worked very hard to get it right. On opening night, as I watched my schoolmates perform the result of our hard work, it had an indelible effect on me. I knew I would always want to work in the arts.”
Clearly, that Dartmouth tee represents multiple layers of Grey’s Anatomy history!