Grey's Anatomy has produced a lot of medical miracles — remember when Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) removed a bomb from someone's chest? — but none so impressive as Josh Radnor's brief but well-publicized appearance on the show. While Radnor's character could make a reappearance, he probably won't. And if you watched the episode, you'll know exactly why. Josh Radnor appeared on Grey's Anatomy as a greying version of his How I Met Your Mother character Ted Mosby. By the end of the episode, Meredith Grey has politely escorted him out of the narrative as if to say, no, don't worry, I won't be dating Ted Mosby.
Grey's Anatomy fans can sleep well tonight, rest assured that their favorite heroine won't be matched with another random love interest.
Ted Mosby's appearance on the episode spanned wider than just those 45 minutes, though. (To clarify: The actor's name is Josh Radnor. The character's name is John. But mostly, he is Ted Mosby.) Earlier this week, ABC sent out a titillating little press release that claimed Ted would play Meredith's love interest in the show. The news prompted groans: Hasn't Meredith Grey been through enough? Her husband Derek Shepard (Patrick Dempsey) died. Her last boyfriend (Martin Henderson, devastatingly handsome and also boring) left her when he discovered that his ex, whom he thought was dead, was in fact alive. Meredith has survived a mass shooting, a near-drowning, and, in season 13, an explosion at her hospital. Her mother was awful, and her father pretty neglectful. Not to mention, Meredith has three kids and a little sister (Kelly McCreary), all of whom live with Meredith. Why add Ted Mosby to the mix?
It doesn't help that Ted has a reputation, one that's hard to separate from Radnor himself. Radnor played Ted for 10 seasons of How I Met Your Mother and has yet to find another defining role — for now, Radnor is Ted, and Ted is Radnor. The character encapsulated a lot of what was wrong with rom-com heroes. In the pilot episode of How I Met Your Mother, Ted drags a blue French horn to Robin's house to prove his love for her. In the same episode, he tells her he loves her, hours into their first date. He's the "good guy who's actually terribly, terribly bad" the same title Jim from The Office (John Krasinski) later earned.
Foisting him on Meredith Grey was comically abhorrent. Grey's has been in search of a new "love interest" for a while now, ever since Dempsey left the show. But Pompeo seems insistent that she doesn't need a love interest.
"Everybody was devastated when Patrick Dempsey left," Pompeo said on Late Night with Seth Meyers last year. "And I think that the network especially thought the show was never gonna make it, and they rushed in a new love interest like 30 seconds later. Because I could never the carry the show — let's not get crazy!"
Ted's entrance felt a bit like another "rushed in" love interest, a panic replacement for Henderson, who left at the end of season 13. With his romantic reputation, too, the move seemed like meta-commentary on Meredith's troubles. Meredith needs a new love interest? Let's introduce the most tired love interest of all time.
And, on the episode, Ted was tired. His character's name was John and John did not get a last name. He wore a sweater and sported some new grey hairs. He complained that dating as an adult was hard. He brought up his failed marriage. He complained about the modern lack of privacy, something he's passionate about because he makes privacy software. (Lol, Seattle joke! That's where Amazon's mammoth campus is.) John wasn't even meant to go on a date with Meredith. Both he and Meredith had been set up on blind dates, and they accidentally ended up on the wrong date. There are just too many greying men named John in Seattle, I guess. This, too, speaks to the randomness of the pairing. Like, eh! John could have been anyone. Meredith's love interest could have been any blandly handsome man, the faceless guy of Sally's dreams in When Harry Met Sally.
Which is only partially why he didn't stay. After their date, John revealed that he didn't like women with kids. They're "desperate," he said. They move too fast. Meredith, remember, has three kids. At that, Meredith politely says goodbye and strides calmly back through the doors of the hospital. John pulled a Ted Mosby and nipped his romantic chances in the bud. Meredith, meanwhile, maybe doesn't need a mate anymore — at least, she's not so lonely that she'll take a whiny software engineer who hates single mothers. If anything, it's John who tried to rush things. Or, if we're going meta, it's the network who tried to rush things. And casting Josh Radnor/Ted Mosby/John was Pompeo's way of saying: nah. Maybe it's time to let the old rom-com ways die. (It takes a lot to change TV, hell, it takes a lot to try!)
As for Meredith Grey's love life, maybe, like Ted Mosby should have, everyone can cool it a little.