‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Fans Are Worried Season 16 Will Be Richard’s Last

Grey’s Anatomy has long been known for its nerve-wracking season finales and last season’s was no different.

They left us with a number of cliffhangers, but we thankfully only have to wait a few more weeks to get answers to our biggest questions.

‘Jump into the fog’

James Pickens Jr.
James Pickens Jr. | John Fleenor/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

The Season 15 finale, “Jump Into the Fog,” aired in May and has since left fans wondering what’s going to happen with everyone in the cast. Jackson disappeared into the fog after a big fight with Maggie, Teddy gave birth to Owen’s baby, and Jo checked herself into the hospital’s psych ward.

The greatest shock, however, came when Bailey fired three of the remaining original cast members from the hospital — Meredith, Alex, and Richard.

All three of these doctors getting fired is beyond concerning, but fans are most worried about what it means for the oldest of them, Dr. Richard Webber, played by James Pickens Jr. Could this be leading to his ultimate retirement from the show?

A new perspective for a new season

With three main characters gone from the hospital, fans are hopeful for a chance to see Grey Sloan from the perspective of the remaining doctors. Interns and residents in the show don’t always get the same attention the attending doctors do these days, so this could be a refreshing take on the hospital’s storylines.

Seeing how they cope with the loss of their mentors would give them a chance to find themselves the same way Meredith and Alex had to find themselves when they were residents.

Watching Bailey fire Richard in the season finale was especially shocking for fans, since Richard mentored Bailey as an intern and all the way up into her current position as Chief of Surgery, a position he previously held.

James Pickens Jr. recently told Entertainment Weekly, “It made perfect sense. If someone was going to fire me, [it had to be] Bailey, who I mentored. But it sets up for some really fascinating and really funny and timely storytelling moving forward. I’m excited to see where it takes us all.”

We’re excited too.

Will this be the end for Dr. Webber?

Beginning all the way back in Season 1, Dr. Webber has always hinted at retirement from the hospital. He retired from the Chief of Surgery position earlier in the series but has remained on the staff as Residency Director. Being fired by his mentee, Bailey, may bring up the idea to retire from medicine completely, instead of either begging for his job back or searching for a position at a new hospital.

Pickens Jr. hinted that big things could be on the horizon for his beloved character. “This will be interesting for him. It’ll test his relationships, it’ll test his sobriety to some extent.”

Could we be seeing another relapse for Dr. Webber? That could lead to a number of new problems for him and his wife, Catherine Avery, who has only known him as a recovering alcoholic.

Showrunner Krista Vernoff recently announced that this season would feature a standalone episode centered around Richard. Longtime fans will note that standalone episodes focused on one or two main characters often foreshadow the death or exit of a character.

While we will be hoping it’s the latter, it’s also worth noting that it’s been a while since Grey’s writers have killed off a beloved character — something they were known for doing quite frequently in their earlier seasons.

Whatever is in the cards for Dr. Webber and our other favorite characters, we can all be thankful we have less than a month to wait to find out. Season 16 airs Thursday, September 26 on ABC.