‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Creator Shonda Rhimes Says She’s ‘On the Fence’ About Ending the Series After Season 18

After Grey’s Anatomy fans witnessed the return of fan-favorite characters like Patrick Dempsey, T.R. Knight, Eric Dane, and Chyler Leigh in Season 17, many fans began to speculate that Season 18 will be it’s last. Even the show’s star Ellen Pompeo has confirmed the theories were “not far off.” But, where does Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes stand on concluding the show? 

What does the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ ending look like for Shonda Rhimes?

Shonda Rhimes wearing a black and white dress to the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.
Shonda Rhimes | Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

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Since 2017, Krista Vernoff has served as the showrunner for the show. Shonda Rhimes passed the baton to her after stepping down from the position. But, the Grey’s Anatomy creator is still the executive producer and has the final say as to when the medical drama will end. 

While the show is currently in its eighteenth season, Rhimes has thought about what the end of the series would look like. But, will Grey’s Anatomy Season 18 be it’s last? Well, according to Rhimes herself, she simply doesn’t know how the show will end.

In an interview with Adweek, Rhimes admitted that she’s still “on the fence” about how the show should end. “I’ve given it a lot of thought, and at this moment, I’m on the fence,” she explained. “Like, are we done? Should we do a few more? Should we see where we’re headed? And I’m on the fence. I go back and forth.”

Despite numerous rumors that suggest the end is near, Rhimes says that’s not going to happen, at least not right now. In 2020, Rhimes and Walt Disney Television chairman of Entertainment, Dana Walde, discussed the idea and said the show couldn’t end “in the middle of a pandemic.”

“The longer the pandemic went on, the less good it felt, the idea that we would end in the midst of this medical crisis,” Rhimes continued. “And so that stopped being interesting to me.”

The ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ creator wrote the ending ‘a good eight times’

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Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes has put a lot of thought into how the show will end – so much so that she’s written the ending multiple times. In an interview for Variety’s Show Woman of the Year issue, Rhimes shared that she wrote the ending to the medical drama “a good eight times” on separate occasions.

“I’ve written the end of that series, I want to say, a good eight times,” she explained. “I was like, ‘And that will be the end!’ Or, ‘That’ll be the final thing that’s ever said or done!’ And all of those things have already happened. So I give up on that, you know what I mean?”

Once Rhimes handed over her position as showrunner, she lost the right to decide what the final scene was. So, she has no idea how the show will end. “If you’d ask me this question three years ago, or prior to Krista arriving, I would have said, ‘Yes, I can tell you exactly how it’s going to end,’” Rhimes continued. “But once you hand off the ball for real, it’s just different. So I don’t know yet.”

Showrunner Krista Vernoff has ‘new ideas’ for how the show will end

The current showrunner, Krista Vernoff, shared a similar sentiment to how the show will conclude, saying she has “something percolating” but is not sure of the direction to take. In an episode of the At Home with the Creative Coalition podcast, Vernoff shared her thoughts for an ideal ending.

“The percolating changes,” she explained “I had some ideas percolating during the first seven seasons — I used to pitch things to Shonda and she’d go, ‘That’s a season eight idea.’”

Vernoff continued, “Every year, I never know if I’m writing the last season of the show, literally. I percolate new ideas every year. If we ended it this year, what would it be?”

For the show’s star, Ellen Pompeo, she wants to continue the narrative (if it’s possible). In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, the Grey’s Anatomy star noted “creatively, as long as there’s something to do,” then the medical drama will continue.

“Miraculously, we keep coming up with ways to have a reason to stay,” she continued. “And if there’s a reason, that warrants it.” 

Grey’s Anatomy airs on ABC.