Major changes are happening Grey’s Anatomy season 19, but it’s still the same show you know and love. The long-running medical drama added 5 new cast members to play Grey Sloan’s new residents, and Meredith’s upcoming exit will go down when the show returns in February 2023.
Despite the show being called Grey’s Anatomy, there will be less of Ellen Pompeo than ever before. So, what does Ellen’s reduced role on the show mean for the show’s future? Who else is returning? HollywoodLife has rounded up all the latest updates about Grey’s Anatomy season 19.
Grey’s Anatomy Season 19 Promo
Ahead of the season 19 premiere, ABC released a promo for the new season. In the footage, Meredith brings the new residents to the OR. “You will save lives with this equipment, and you will end them,” Meredith says bluntly to the new residents.
Season 19 picks up with a new residency program. Meredith says they have to “prove the haters wrong.” Nick calls the new residents “diamonds in the rough.” Alexis Floyd, one of the new cast members, points out that the hospital is “going through a bit of a rebirth.” Second chances will be a “big theme” of season 19 for “both the interns as well as many of the characters you know and love already.”
Grey’s Anatomy Season 19 Premiere Date
Grey’s Anatomy season 19 premiered October 6 on ABC. The series will keep its 9 p.m. ET timeslot on Thursdays. Sister series Station 19 will air at 8 p.m. and the Hilary Swank-led series Alaska Daily will air at 10 p.m.
“Grey’s Anatomy is a true phenomenon, beloved by audiences around the world. Whether they catch it live on ABC, or stream it on Hulu or globally on Disney+ or Star+, it’s clear that fans can’t get enough of Shonda Rhimes’ brilliant creation,” Dana Walden, chairman of Entertainment, Walt Disney Television, said in a statement when the show was renewed. “We have enormous faith in Shonda, Krista Vernoff, Ellen Pompeo and the entire creative team to unlock new, untold stories that will continue to focus on modern medicine, tackle the issues that shape the world around us, and resonate deeply with loyal fans for years to come.”
Shonda, the creator of the series, also said: “I couldn’t be more excited that we get to keep telling the stories of Meredith, Bailey, Richard, and all of the other doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial for another season. This is a true testament to Krista Vernoff, the cast, the crew and all the writers who keep the audience on the edge of their seat week after week. And it would not be possible without the generations of incredible fans who have supported Grey’s Anatomy for so many years.”
Ellen Pompeo’s Status In Season 19
Grey’s Anatomy will feature less of Meredith Grey than ever before. Ellen Pompeo will appear onscreen for only 8 episodes of season 19, Deadline reported. She will continue to be an executive producer. The actress will continue narrating, although she may not do the voiceover in every episode.
Ellen’s limited screen time as Meredith comes as the actress prepares to tackle her first role outside the world of Grey’s Anatomy. She will star in the Hulu limited series that’s based on the true story of Ukrainian-born Natalia Grace and her U.S. adoptive parents, who claimed that she was an adult “sociopath” pretending to be a child. Ellen is set to play the mother in the series.
“I’m so excited. I feel really happy and grateful that the company gave me an opportunity to do something different with my new limited series,” Ellen told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY at the D23 Expo on September 9.
Her sendoff episode will air on February 23 when the show returns from its winter hiatus. The episode is titled “I’ll Follow The Sun.”
“[Grey’s is] still gonna be just fine without me — I’m still gonna do the voiceover,” she told Deadline at D23. “And I’ll be back at Grey’s for the finale, and we’ll see if we can keep it going,” she said. “I’m gonna always be a part of that show – I’m an exec producer on that show, I’ve spent two decades of my career on that show, it’s my heart and soul, and I’ll never truly be gone as long as that show’s on the air.”
A week after the fall finale, Ellen posted on Instagram, “I am eternally grateful and humbled by the love and support you have all shown me, Meredith GREY and the show for 19 seasons! Through it all….none of it …would have been possible without the best fans in the world. You all are RIDERS and you all have made the ride so fun and ICONIC!! I love you madly and appreciate you right back. This isn’t your first time on the rollercoaster… you know the show must go on and I’ll definitely be back to visit. With a lot of love and immense gratitude.”
Following the news about Ellen’s limited onscreen role in season 19, former co-star Jesse Williams defended her decision to scale back. “That woman has worked so hard all year, every year for 20 years for that franchise,” Jesse told E! News’ Daily Pop. “Whatever time she takes off is well-earned, and I’m sure they have a master plan.”
Grey’s Anatomy Season 19 Cast
In addition to Ellen, Grey’s Anatomy veterans Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. returned as Dr. Miranda Bailey and Dr. Richard Webber. Ellen, Chandra, and James are the only remaining cast members who’ve been series regulars since season 1.
Ellen signed a one-year deal in January 2022 to return for season 19, according to Deadline. Chandra and James signed new multi-year pacts that included season 19. Fellow series regulars Kevin McKidd, Kim Raver, Caterina Scorsone, Chris Carmack, Camilla Luddington, Kelly McCreary, Jake Borelli, Anthony Hill, and Scott Speedman are expected to return in season 19.
On August 3, Kevin shared a behind-the-scenes photo of his first day back on set to film season 19. “Day 1 back at it! So grateful and happy to see everyone and start telling new stories together!” he wrote.
Kim also celebrated the start of season 19 production. “Off to First Day Of SEASON 19 filming @greysabc! Thank you sweet friend @joeywolffer for the beautiful shirt I’m wearing today! I love it,” she captioned her Instagram photo.
Kate Walsh, who plays the beloved Dr. Addison Montgomery, returned for a handful of season 18 episodes. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Kate about possibly returning for season 19. “It was fun to go back. She might make an appearance. We’ll see. I don’t know,” she said. On Sept. 7, Kate confirmed via Instagram that she’s indeed returning for the new season. Kate is back in a recurring role and makes her first appearance in the third episode, according to Variety.
New Cast Members
Season 19 features many new faces. Grey’s Anatomy added several cast members who will be first-year surgical residents at Grey Sloan. On August 10, James shared the first look of the new cast members on set and in their scrubs. “Let’s give a warm welcome to the new Interns of the Grey’s family, excited for season 19,” he captioned the Instagram photo.
- Harry Shum Jr. will play Benson “Blue” Kwan, according to Deadline. Blue is “sharp-witted, impatient and brilliant. He is generous by nature but competitive to a fault, naturally gifted, and used to winning at everything. A family crisis interfered with his career plans and now he’s got a lot to prove.” The show will dive into Blue’s backstory and “explain why Daniel is a little older than your typical medical resident.” Harry wrote on Instagram that he is “honored to be joining this iconic show.”
- Adelaide Kane will play Jules Millin, TVLine confirmed. Jules is a first-year surgical resident who was “raised by drug-addled artist/hippies and somehow emerged as the only real grown-up in the family. Because she always had to take care of herself and her parents, Jules can be a little bossy — but her heart is always in the right place. She’s not afraid to break the rules to save a life, and sometimes it gets her in trouble.” Following the casting news, the Reign alum posted the following on Instagram: “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV! So hyped to be a part of such a historic series!!! Can’t wait to be covered in fake blood and bodily fluids on a daily basis. tysm!” Adelaide teased that Jules can be “bossy and a little impulsive, but she’s very kind-hearted.” She may have a romantic connection Link!
- Midori Francis will play Mika Yasuda. According to Deadline, Mika is another first-year resident who is a “middle child with eight siblings. She is used to being overlooked and underestimated and uses it to her advantage. Mika is dealing with overwhelming student loans from med school, but she’s scrappy and confident she can make it in the program and rise to the top.” Midori noted that Mika is a “jokester and likes to make people laugh.” Sometimes her sense of humor gets her in “trouble.”
- Alexis Floyd will play Simone Griffin, a new first-year surgical resident who is a “funny, whip-smart, high achiever with a complicated family dynamic. She grew up in Seattle, but never wanted to work at Grey Sloan because of a painful personal history with the hospital,” according to Deadline. Alexis says that Simone brings a very “grounded but emotional connection to her work.”
- Niko Terho will play Lucas Adams. Deadline reports that Lucas is “the charming black sheep of his family. Likable to a fault, he has a great mind, but doesn’t have the grades to match. He’s determined to prove himself as a surgeon, just like many in his family that have come before him, but he will have to stop relying on his people skills and put in the work.”
How Did Season 18 End?
Owen and Teddy were seen leaving Seattle with their kids after refusing to give life-ending medication to a man whose wife, a former veteran, was dying. When Owen didn’t comply with the man’s demands, the man reported the couple to Bailey. Owen and Teddy resigned and quickly left town.
Kai and Amelia’s relationship hit a snag when Kai revealed that they didn’t want kids. However, at the end of the episode, Kai couldn’t tear themselves away from Amelia. Meanwhile, Jo and Link vowed to get their friendship back on track.
Grey Sloan’s residency accreditation was pulled in the finale, which meant Schmidt and other residents had to leave. Meredith had pretty much decided to leave Seattle for Minnesota, but Jackson begged her to pull her resignation because Grey Sloan would be doomed if she didn’t. Bailey beat her to the punch.
“You broke it, you bought it,” Bailey said after revealing she was quitting to protect her health and sanity. Meredith told Nick that he should go back to Minnesota. Nick finally walked away after being pushed by Meredith. Just after he left, Meredith knew she made a mistake. The last moments of the final showed Meredith running after Nick.
Is Grey’s Anatomy Ending After Season 19?
Grey’s Anatomy has not been renewed for a milestone season 20 yet. If the show does get a renewal, it likely wouldn’t be announced until early 2023. Grey’s Anatomy, which premiered in 2005, is already the longest-running primetime medical drama of all time and recently celebrated 400 episodes.
Ellen has been vocal for years about Grey’s Anatomy ending. “I mean, I’ve been trying to get away for years,” she told Entertainment Tonight in 2021. “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.”
She admitted to Insider in 2021 that she’s “been trying to focus on convincing everybody that it should end. I feel like I’m the super naive one who keeps saying, ‘But what’s the story going to be, what story are we going to tell?’ And everyone’s like, ‘Who cares, Ellen? It makes a gazillion dollars.'”
The actress has also been honest that the show could continue on without her. “The show speaks to a lot of people, and the young people love the show,” Ellen told Entertainment Tonight in 2022. “It’s inspired so many generations of healthcare workers, so, I think for the young people, it’s a really good piece of content.”
She continued: “We’re going to try to keep it going for the young people, not necessarily with me, but keep it going beyond me.” When asked if the show would technically be called Grey’s Anatomy if she was no longer on the show, Ellen replied, “We’ll find someone, or maybe, we won’t.”
However, Jesse Williams, who plays Dr. Jackson Avery, isn’t so sure the show would go on without Ellen. “I don’t know, it would be a different show [if she left], she’s the heart of that show, she’s Grey, so unlikely,” he told Access Hollywood in June 2022.