It’s the end of an era! Grey’s Anatomy will be saying a partial goodbye to Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey when the series returns early next year.
“Meredith leaves Seattle to begin again,” ABC teased in the first look at season 19’s winter premiere, which is set for February 23, 2023. The episode is titled “I’ll Follow the Sun” and was written by showrunner Krista Vernoff.
Following the show’s fall finale, which aired on Thursday, November 10, fans were treated to a sneak peek of what’s to come. The biggest takeaway is that Dr. Meredith Grey (Pompeo) is leaving Grey Sloan Memorial and relocating to Boston.
“Big last day!” Meredith says in the teaser for the show’s return, noting that the last few months have “been a lot” with a fire burning down her house and her making the choice to move. (Spoiler alert: Her Post-it note with her and late husband Derek Shepard’s vows on it did survive the blaze.)
In the trailer, it’s clear that Meredith will be missed by her fellow doctors — especially the few remaining original characters from the ABC drama.
“This is very thoughtful … and ridiculous,” Meredith quips after her coworkers, including Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.), surprise her with a farewell bash at the hospital.
Dr. Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) playfully calls out Meredith for spoiling the fun, saying, “For God’s sake, Grey, will you just let us toast you?”
For fans following this season, it’s no surprise that Meredith is ready for her next adventure in Boston after she was offered a job working on Alzheimer’s research. Plus, her daughter, Zola, quickly fell for the city during their visit.
News broke in August that Pompeo would only be appearing in a handful of episodes for season 19 of the procedural drama. The Massachusetts native will continue to be an executive producer on the series and narrate the season, but she will only star in a total of eight episodes, TVLine reported at the time.
The winter premiere will mark Pompeo’s seventh episode this season. She is expected to return for the season finale, Deadline reported on Thursday.
“I’m going to always be a part of that show,” the Old School actress told the same outlet in September about her part-time status for season 19. “I’m an executive producer. I spent two decades of my career on [Grey’s Anatomy] — it’s my heart and soul. I’ll never truly be gone as long as [it’s] on the air.”
Pompeo added that Shonda Rhimes’ hit series, which began in 2005, will be “just fine without” her at the helm.
Later that month, former Grey’s Anatomy costar Sarah Drew exclusively told Us Weekly why it makes sense that Pompeo is finally stepping back after more than a decade playing the Seattle-based doctor.
“She’s been working so hard in this role for so long,” Drew, 41, said in September. “It makes sense that she wants to take a breather and pursue some other things — and still keep her foot in the door.”
The Reindeer Games Homecoming actress, who played Dr. April Kepner for more than eight seasons on Grey’s Anatomy, added: “I think that’s great for [Pompeo]. I wish her the best.”
While Grey’s fans will have to get used to life without Pompeo, the actress isn’t saying goodbye to TV altogether. In fact, she is set to star in and executive produce a new limited series for Hulu.
The show is still untitled, but it will consist of eight episodes, Variety reported in August. The story will follow a midwestern couple who adopts someone that they believe to be an 8-year-old girl with a rare form of dwarfism.
“As they begin to raise her alongside their three biological children, they slowly start to believe she may not be who she says she is,” the synopsis reads. “As they question her story, they’re confronted with hard questions of their own about the lengths they’re willing to go to defend themselves, falling into a battle that’s fought in the tabloids, the courtroom, and ultimately their marriage.”