‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Does Jesse Williams’ Exit Signal the End of the Show?

Fans have fallen in love with the characters on Grey’s Anatomy over the course of the 17 seasons that the show has been on the air. But as the seasons have gone on, viewers have had to say goodbye to some of their favorite characters. Last season, Alex Karev left the show when actor Justin Chambers decided he wanted to take his career in a different direction. Jesse Williams has been a Grey’s Anatomy cast member for years, but now the actor, who plays Dr. Jackson Avery, is leaving. Do all of these exits mean the end of Grey’s Anatomy?

Headshot of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Jesse Williams for season 17
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Jesse Williams | Mike Rosenthal via Getty Images

Jesse Williams’ exit from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Williams joined the Grey’s Anatomy cast in season 6 when Mercy West Medical Center merged with Seattle Grace Hospital. In season 7, he became a series regular.

“I will forever be grateful for the boundless opportunities provided me by Shonda, the network, studio, fellow cast mates, our incredible crew, Krista, Ellen, and Debbie,” Williams said in a statement.

“As an actor, director and person, I have been obscenely lucky to learn so much from so many and I thank our beautiful fans, who breathe so much energy and appreciation into our shared worlds,” he continued.

“The experience and endurance born of creating nearly 300 hours of leading global television is a gift I’ll carry always. I am immensely proud of our work, our impact and to be moving forward with so many tools, opportunities, allies, and dear friends.”

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Though Williams has already announced his exit, fans can see him on the show for a few more weeks. His final episode will air on May 20th.

“Jesse Williams is an extraordinary artist and activist. Watching his evolution these past 11 years both on screen and off has been a true gift,” Grey’s Anatomy executive producer/showrunner Krista Vernoff told Deadline in a statement. “Jesse brings so much heart, such depth of care, and so much intelligence to his work. We will miss Jesse terribly and we will miss Jackson Avery — played to perfection for so many years.”

What does this mean for ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 18?

Grey’s Anatomy Season 18 has not officially been announced quite yet. The renewal depends on the show closing deals with remaining original cast members Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson, and James Pickens.

In February, Williams told People that he doubted the show would be ending any time soon.

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“I remember six years ago being like, ‘Yeah, two more years makes sense,'” he said. “And then two more years, and then two more years. And I made a joke earlier that Grey’s is like betting against Tom Brady — you just don’t do it.”

“Obviously, people are riveted,” Williams said. “If it was easy to keep a show going on this long, this many hours, this many episodes a season, this many seasons, everybody would do it.”