Grey’s Anatomy is one of television’s most popular shows and has been since its debut in 2005. For 18 seasons, fans have watched Dr. Meredith Grey and the other beloved doctors experience all the highs and lows inside and outside the hospital. The show recently returned for season 18, with many fans wondering if this season could be the last.
Ellen Pompeo has never been shy about acknowledging that the show will come to an end, it’s just a matter of when. The show’s 18th season recently premiered with notable returning characters coming back into the fold, and fans are wondering if that’s a sign that the end is near. Here’s what we know about a potential season 19, what Ellen has said about the show ending, and more.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 18
Grey’s Anatomy season 18 kicked off on September 30. After a season that revolved around COVID-19 and Meredith’s near-fatal bout with the virus, the show is now in a post-pandemic world. Meredith has fully recovered and is back at work. Meredith is asked to come to Minnesota by Dr. David Hamilton, who knew her mother, to discuss a potential job opportunity. He wants her to run a new project that will hopefully cure Parkinson’s. She takes the job but is pulling double duty in both Minnesota and Seattle.
While in Minnesota, Meredith crosses paths with Dr. Nick Marsh, played by new series regular Scott Speedman. He was last seen in season 14 when he had a kidney transplant. Sparks immediately started flying between Meredith and Nick after they had their big reunion.
Similar to season 17, which featured the returns of several fan faves in Meredith’s beach dreams, there have already been a number of familiar faces in season 18. Ellis Grey returned in the opening moments of the season 18 premiere in one of Meredith’s dreams. There have been a number of nods to Grey’s Anatomy’s earlier seasons, including Meredith re-wearing the same shirt she wore on her first day at Seattle Grace.
Kate Walsh made her long-awaited return as Dr. Addison Montgomery in the show’s third episode of season 18. Richard brings Addison back to Grey Sloan to help out with the residency program. Addison and Meredith finally addressed Derek’s death together, and Addison even met Meredith and Derek’s kids.
Meanwhile, Teddy and Owen officially got married. Amelia and Link are still on the outs after Amelia turned down Link’s proposal. Jo is juggling being a new mom to Luna and working again.
Is ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Ending?
Grey’s Anatomy is currently in its 18th season. ABC has not officially confirmed if the show will be renewed for season 19. The decision about season 18 was revealed in May 2021, so it may be a while before we hear about a potential 19th season.
When season 18 was officially confirmed, THR reported that Grey’s Anatomy vets Ellen, Chandra Wilson, and James Pickens Jr. all secured new deals to return for season 18 after negotiations. Ellen reportedly received “another salary increase,” keeping her broadcast television’s highest-earning actress.
“Grey’s Anatomy continues to be a ratings juggernaut,” Craig Erwich, President, ABC Entertainment and Hulu Originals, said in May 2021. “The fans loved this season. I thought Grey’s Anatomy did a really incredible job this year telling the stories of all the frontline heroes who are fighting the good fight (against) Covid. We will take Grey’s Anatomy for as long as we can.”
When Will ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ End?
Grey’s Anatomy will end when Ellen decides she wants to say goodbye to Meredith Grey. Ellen first started to really discuss the end of the long-running medical drama in 2016. “I think about it a lot. And I can’t really talk about my future plans, but yes, Shonda [Rhimes] and I talk about it,” she told Cosmopolitan. “We feel like we’re in this together, and I think we don’t want to do the show without each other. I think when either of us is ready, when we feel like it’s time to wrap it up [we will],” she revealed. “When she feels like it’s time to wrap it up, I’m happy to, and if I were to feel that way, she would probably be OK too. We have a good relationship in that way, and hopefully it’s a decision we’ll come to together.”
While Shonda will always be the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, she left ABC in 2017 to go to Netflix. She signed a $150 million deal with the streaming service. In the wake of Shonda’s departure, Krista Vernoff returned to Grey’s Anatomy for season 14 as showrunner and writer. She had been the executive producer and head writer of Grey’s Anatomy until season 7.
In 2017, Ellen admitted that the show will come to an end when she’s ready. “The story is about Meredith Grey’s journey and when I’m done, the show will end,” she told Variety. “I don’t know how long the show will go on. I know the network and the studio like to say they see no end in sight, but I think the audience will tell us when the show is no longer a fan favorite. I think it’s quite arrogant to assume the show can go on forever — I don’t like that approach. Right now, we’re very lucky to have the fans still hanging on, and I think the fans will let us know when it’s time to stop the show.”
She added, “Why walk away from a hit? You don’t walk away from something for nothing. And with the track record out there, I’m good to keep doing it for now.”
Over the years, Ellen has continued to tease that the show may be coming to an end sooner than later. “We’re getting there. Shonda and I will make that decision together,” Ellen told Us Weekly in 2018. Ahead of season 17 in 2020, Ellen admitted that it could have been the final season. “The truth is, this year could be it,” she revealed to Variety. “I’m constantly fighting for the show as a whole to be as good as it can be. As a producer, I feel like I have permission to be able to do that. I mean, this is the last year of my contract right now. I don’t know that this is the last year, but it could very well could be.”
The latest update from Ellen came in 2021 at the Emmys. She hinted that she may be nearing the end of her run, but the show’s impact keeps her coming back. “I mean, I’ve been trying to get away for years,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “I have been trying. It’s not because I haven’t been trying. I have strong relationships at the network and they have been very, very good to me, and have incentivized me to stay.” She added, “Miraculously, we keep coming up with ways to have a reason to stay and if there’s a reason, that warrants it.”
How Will ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ End?
Fans already have countless theories about how the show will eventually come to a close. From Zola becoming a doctor to a possible Alzheimer’s diagnosis, there are a number of possible endings for the show. Ellen knows how the show will ultimately end, but she’s staying tight-lipped. “I have no expectations and that’s how I survive,” Ellen told Variety in 2020. “The final episode I did [have an image], but I can’t really tell you because then I’ll have to kill you. Krista [Vernoff] and I talked about potential things.” She added, “I’ve signed on for one more season is all I can say.”