Few shows on TV seem to have the longevity of Grey’s Anatomy — in fact, sometimes it seems like the series will never end. The original Shonda Rhimes-produced hit is as formulaic as they come, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing to its fans.
But at some point, everything must come to a close. With another Shondaland production, Scandal, wrapping up this season, could Grey’s Anatomy be following suit? Here’s what we know about the show’s possible end.
Ellen Pompeo has said she doesn’t want to act anymore
A number of years ago, star Ellen Pompeo (the eponymous Meredith Grey), made comments that worried fans of the show. In a Facebook Live segment for BuzzFeed, she said, “I definitely don’t have a strong desire to act after Grey’s. I feel myself transitioning. I don’t find acting terribly empowering. For the place I am in my life … I don’t necessarily want to work for other people.”
The actress — whose roles before the medical drama includes flight attendant Marci in Catch Me If You Can, Karen Page in the Ben Affleck Daredevil film, and a woman named Missy, who Chandler and Ross both pursued in college in Friends — has undoubtedly spent the better part of her career on the show. So it’s understandable that she would be interested in trying new things.
But she also doesn’t want to walk away
More recently, Pompeo has made more encouraging comments about the series. She said to Variety, “Why walk away from a hit? You don’t walk away from something for nothing. And with the track record out there, I’m good to keep doing it for now.”
Part of what may have made Pompeo excited to continue was the opportunity to direct: She was at the helm of Season 13, Episode 18. But obviously, that can’t keep her there forever. “The story is about Meredith Grey’s journey and when I’m done, the show will end … As far as how much longer I want to do the show, I’m mulling that over as we speak,” she said.
Other major players have left
When a show is on the air as long as Grey’s, you’re going to lose a few faces along the way. Of the original main cast, only four remain: Pompeo, Justin Chambers (as Alex Karev, who started in the intern program in Season 1 with Meredith), Chandra Wilson (fearless leader Miranda Bailey), and James Pickens, Jr. (Richard Webber, the chief-turned-head of the residency program).
Lost along the way are the other three of the “original five” (Sandra Oh’s Cristina, Katherine Heigl’s Izzie, and T.R. Knight’s George), cardio attending Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington), and Meredith’s long-time love interest, Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). Other fan-favorite doctors who came into the picture later, like Mark Sloan (Eric Dane), Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh), and Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez), all left and were replaced by new surgeons at some point or another.
All about contracts
Some actors left the show for personal reasons. Knight left at the end of Season 5, due in part to an incident in which costar Washington called him a gay slur (Washington was fired for his remark). Meanwhile, Heigl and Dempsey allegedly butted heads with Rhimes.
However, a lot of what this sort of thing comes down to is simply choosing to move on. Oh made the decision to leave after her two-year Season 9 and 10 contract was up, and Ramirez did the same after Season 12. Both appear to have left on good terms.
Down in viewership
Despite the hype of TGIT on ABC, things aren’t perfect in Shondaland. Grey’s has been around for a long time, but it has seen its share of ups and downs.
The series peaked in the ratings early on, and has, for the most part, been a steady decrease ever since. However, as Heavy notes, Season 13 still brought in more viewership than any other program on ABC.
There’s a spinoff coming
In Season 14, we learned that one doctor was headed for a new career in firefighting. This will lead to a new as-yet-untitled series, which features Ben Warren (played by Jason George), Bailey’s husband and a regular on Grey’s.
This is the second-ever Grey’s Anatomy spinoff. Private Practice, which followed Grey’s Season 2 and 3 main character Addison Montgomery as she worked in Los Angeles, aired on ABC for six seasons.
Rhimes is moving forward
One of the most powerful players on TV, Rhomes has cultivated a strong presence at ABC and in the world of television dramas. But as the medium evolves, so has her approach.
It was announced in August 2017 that Rhimes has signed a major deal with Netflix. Grey’s Anatomy and the other TGIT shows will remain on ABC, but all new Shondaland productions moving forward will be Netflix originals.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!