‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Fan Theory Explains Exactly Why Season 18 Will Be the Last

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • One ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ fan theory explains why season 18 will be the last
  • ABC waited until the last minute to renew the medical drama for season 18
  • Will ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ give fans time to prepare for the end?
Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey on ‘Grey’s Anatomy in a shot from January 6, 2020
Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey on ‘Grey’s Anatomy | Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images

Grey’s Anatomy is already the longest-running medical drama in television history, and it’s coming back for more. Heading into season 18, the series is still near the top of the broadcast TV ratings. But it’s not the pop culture juggernaut it used to be.

Could this possibly be the final season of Grey’s Anatomy? One fan theory explains exactly why season 18 will be the last.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ ended last season in the top 10

The season 17 finale of Grey’s Anatomy drew a total of 4.6 million viewers, and the series finished the 2020-2021 TV season as the sixth most popular show overall. The only programming that had better numbers was NFL football and The Masked Singer. The only scripted series that beat Grey’s Anatomy was NBC’s This Is Us.

The ABC medical drama has also found new fans on Netflix, which currently has all 17 seasons available for streaming. It’s clear the show still has a strong following, but the last couple of years haven’t been too kind to the series. And new seasons are no longer a guarantee.

ABC waited until the last minute to renew the medical drama for season 18

Nearly two decades after Shonda Rhimes created Grey’s Anatomy, there are only three original cast members left — Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey), James Pickens Jr. (Richard Webber), and Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey).

The OGs go through contract negotiations every few years. And in 2019, Pompeo renewed her contract for seasons 15 and 16, with an option for season 17. At the time, the assumption was that season 16 or 17 would be Pompeo’s last. Which would, in turn, mean the end of Grey’s Anatomy.

But then the pandemic hit and cut season 16 short. Which destroyed any chance the writers had of ending the series with a proper finale. Then, when they came back for season 17, everything was about COVID.

They had their leading lady in bed in a coma almost the entire season. To make matters worse, Pompeo, Pickens Jr, and Wilson were back in neverending contract negotiations. It wasn’t until May that the contracts were signed for one more season, and ABC gave the series an official renewal for season 18.

One ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ fan theory explains why season 18 will be the last

Season 18 hasn’t officially started just yet, but fans are already speculating if this could be the end for Grey’s Anatomy. One fan on Reddit explained exactly why they think season 18 will be the last.

“I think season 18 will be the last season, with 18 episodes to get them to an even 400 episodes for the series,” the fan explained.

The fan also predicted that “MerDer are still the end game so I think Hayes is just her platonic Alex replacement but they’ll tease a romantic angle to make sure viewers know how desirable she is and that she’s still the sun.”

Kate Walsh is one familiar face who’ll be back for season 18

Grey’s Anatomy brought back a ton of deceased fan-favorites during season 17 while Meredith was in her COVID coma. Fans got to see Derek (Patrick Dempsey), George (T.R. Knight), Lexie (Chyler Leigh), and Mark (Eric Dane).

For season 18, more familiar faces will return. And luckily, this time most of them are all still alive. Kate Walsh will be back as Addison Montgomery, and Abigail Spencer will return as Megan Hunt.

Kate Burton will reprise her role of Meredith’s mother, Dr. Ellis Grey. Yes, she is still dead. But that’s never stopped anyone from going back to Grey Sloan.

Will ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ give fans time to prepare for the end?

If season 18 is the final season of Grey’s Anatomy, will ABC make the announcement in advance and give fans time to prepare? Or, will they drag out the contract negotiations all season long and surprise everyone at the end?

Last season, the network left executive producer Krista Vernoff in limbo. She had to write two different finale scripts — one for a season finale and one for a series finale.

“I’m planning for both contingencies and it’s hard and it’s not ideal. It’s not where I wish we were,” Vernoff told The Hollywood Reporter in March.

“I’ve told them that I have to know before I’m making the finale what we’re making. Because there are a couple of character threads that will change. I’ve got plans for both contingencies. Either there will be closure or I will build something in that allows me to have a bit of a cliffhanger and a thread for next season.”

Ultimately, fans ended up getting their thread for season 18. But will they get one for season 19? They’ll just have to wait and see.

Grey’s Anatomy season 18 premieres Thursday, Sept. 30 on ABC.

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