Meredith Grey is about to leave the building.
Grey’s Anatomy wrapped up its 2022 episodes Thursday and left viewers with a big pill to prepare to swallow when the ABC medical drama returns in February with its winter premiere.
In a clip for the Feb. 23 return (watch it, below), leading lady Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith prepares to say her farewell to friends, family and colleagues at Grey Sloan as she moves with her children to Boston.
While the promo certainly points to Pompeo’s final time on Grey’s Anatomy, that’s not the case — at least not right now. In August, Pompeo signed on to star in and exec produce an untitled limited series for Disney-owned Hulu. With the gig, Pompeo scaled back her time on Grey’s to only eight episodes in the show’s current 19th season. The winter premiere is the seventh with the season finale poised to be her eighth appearance.
Still, Pompeo remains an exec producer on Grey’s (and spinoff Station 19) and will continue to do Meredith’s trademark voiceover in each episode. Plus, the door obviously remains open for her to return to visit the doctors at Grey Sloan should the Boston storyline fizzle.
As for the future of Grey’s Anatomy, creator and exec producer Shonda Rhimes has said for years that she sees the show running as long as Pompeo wants to do it and that there would be no Grey’s Anatomy without Meredith Grey. That notion has been tested this season as showrunner Krista Vernoff brought in a new crop of residents and revisited the original pilot for Grey’s with a number of familiar storylines impacting the show’s new cast. It’s also notable that rather than casting up-and-comers as the new interns, this season’s class includes more established actors: Harry Shum Jr. (Crazy Rich Asians, Glee), Adelaide Kane (This Is Us, Reign), Midori Francis (The Sex Lives of College Girls, Dash & Lily), Nico Terho (The Thing About Harry) and Alexis Floyd (Shondaland’s own Inventing Anna).
Grey’s Anatomy is a massive hit for Disney, which owns the show and licenses it to Netflix. The series airs in more than 200 territories across the globe and is a major revenue driver for Disney. ABC execs have been open about wanting the show to continue on for many seasons, though this year seems to be the first real test to see if Grey’s can succeed without Pompeo.