The ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 16 Finale Could’ve Killed a Major Character, So What Will Season 17 Bring?

After Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) left Grey’s Anatomy, we were worried about the remaining characters. Of course, we knew our favorite Grey Sloan Memorial doctors would be affected by the departure. But the sudden exit also reminded us no one is safe in Shondaland. Now our worst fears have been realized. TVLine recently revealed the Grey’s Anatomy Season 16 finale could have led to a major character’s death or departure. Nevertheless, the season was cut short by four episodes due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. So what does this mean for everyone in the 17th season?

The original ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 16 finale set up a major character to die or leave

Giacomo Gianniotti as Andrew DeLuca and Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey on 'Grey's Anatomy' Season 16
Giacomo Gianniotti as Andrew DeLuca and Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Raymond Liu via Getty Images

On April 14, TVLine reported the Grey’s Anatomy Season 16 finale was meant to include a “cataclysmic event” which could have set up a major character to die or leave. One of the publication’s sources also revealed the event was going to be an explosion. But even so, Vernoff did not confirm or deny the storyline.

That said, we’ll likely find out what the event was meant to be. When the Grey’s Anatomy Season 16 finale aired on April 9, Vernoff told TVLine there are clues in the final two episodes of Station 19 Season 3.

“Ironically, when fans watch Episode 15 and 16 of Station 19, they will probably have a feeling of some of what we had planned for [the original Grey’s finale],” Vernoff said.

We’ll also be seeing a few familiar faces from the Grey’s Anatomy crew in the final episodes of Station 19

“The Grey’s characters are all over the last two episodes of Station 19,” Vernoff told Deadline. “So, that is a really nice treat for the fans, too. Many of our Grey’s characters are in Episodes 15 or 16 on Station 19.”

Will a major character die ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 17?

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If a major character was meant to die or leave after Grey’s Anatomy Season 16, it seems likely the arc would be completed in season 17. That said, we may never know. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Vernoff revealed the writers would rethink what’s to come in Grey’s Anatomy Season 17.

“I do think we have to reset, I don’t know to what degree,” Vernoff said. “We certainly can’t just shoot what was going to be [episode] 22 and make it the premiere because it wasn’t designed as a premiere. It was a relatively mild episode that followed an episode that was huge. So for sure, we’re going to have to reconsider a lot of things.”

She continued: “A lot of things that we had planned to do in the last four episodes are going to change, but I don’t have a real answer until I get the writers in a room. I don’t know how it’s going to change or what it’s going to be, and I won’t until we actually sit down.”

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Vernoff also added a few character plotline changes will likely come.

“I can tell you that we have been having text conversations where we’re having brainstorms because we’ve had downtime and we’ve had rest where we’re like, ‘Oh my God, here’s what’s going to happen with that character,’ which is completely different than what we had planned in 23 and 24,” she said. “So for sure stories are going to change, just because we’re home with time to think.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Vernoff confirmed there will be no major castmember exits between Grey’s Anatomy Season 16 and 17. So for the time being, everyone is safe.

“There are no notable castmember departures happening between seasons,” Vernoff said. 

Read more: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Why Ellen Pompeo Is Happy With Alex and Izzie’s Ending