‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Will Ellen Pompeo be the Next to Leave the Show after Justin Chambers’ Exit?

Grey’s Anatomy fans are not okay right now. Everyone is still reeling from the news that Justin Chambers, who plays Alex Karev on the show, will not be returning. Chambers was one of the OGs of Grey’s Anatomy. He is the only one left on the show from Meredith Grey’s intern class besides Grey herself.

Justin Chambers and Ellen Pompeo
Justin Chambers and Ellen Pompeo | Tony Rivetti/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Sure, the show has lost main characters before, George O’ Malley, Lexie Grey, and who could forget Derek Shepherd’s tragic accident, but there is one key difference between all of those exits and this one. When pivotal characters left in the past, there were always a number of other OGs left to pick up the slack.

Now, Grey stands alone.

Justin Chambers’ exit

On Jan. 10, Chambers announced that he was leaving the world of Grey’s for good.

“There’s no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that’s defined so much of my life for the past 15 years,” he said in a statement to Deadline. “For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices. And, as I turn 50 and am blessed with my remarkable, supportive wife and five wonderful children, now is that time.”

“As I move on from Grey’s Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda Rimes, original cast members Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens, and the rest of the amazing cast and crew, both past and present, and, of course, the fans for an extraordinary ride,” he continued.

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Will Ellen Pompeo be the next to leave?

Ellen Pompeo has been on Grey’s Anatomy since it aired in 2005. She is the namesake and main character of the show. But even as the star, Pompeo has always wanted to branch out.

“I keep saying, ‘I’m ready to move on and I want to stop the show before the ratings go down,’ but the ratings never go down!” she said in an interview with TV Line. “They go down a little bit, but the fact that we are able to hold [our title as ABC’s No. 1 series] is kind of [incredible.] It’s very cool to have these kinds of ratings and be on a hit network show in this [peak TV] landscape.”

And overall, Grey’s has fit into her life perfectly.

“It’s [a] pretty nice place to work,” Pompeo continued. “I like my situation here. As much as the idea of something new appeals to me… the truth is I have three kids. I don’t really want to travel and leave [them]. I don’t want to be a circus traveler and live in hotels. And the network and studio continue to incentivize me and just make me offers that I can’t refuse.”

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But Pompeo’s contract is up this year and she has expressed wanting to do other things.

“I’m clearly not prepared right now to make any formal announcement about my future on the show,” she told Entertainment Weekly in 2018. “That’s something that Shonda Rhimes and I will do together. But I’m feeling like we have told the majority of the stories that we can tell.”