When Will Grey's Anatomy End? Everything the Cast and Producers Have Said

There's no need to panic just yet!

By Lauren Piester Feb 25, 2019 9:11 PMTags
Watch: Ellen Pompeo Will Never Say Never to More "Grey's Anatomy"

All good things must come to an end, but if we had anything to say about it, Grey's Anatomy wouldn't be one of those good things. 

15 seasons in and we're still fully on board, living in constant fear that Ellen Pompeo and Shonda Rhimes will suddenly decide they're tired of the hospital. Lucky for us, an ending doesn't seem to be in the show's immediate future, but that doesn't mean we won't keep asking, just to make sure we don't have to start preparing ourselves just yet.

After all, we've got a whole new romance with DeLuca to explore, and more surgery records to break, and a whole bunch of drama going on throughout the hospital as usual. Plus, the show itself is breaking records. With the February 28 episode, Grey's officially becomes the longest-running medical drama on TV, beating ER's record 331 episodes, and we personally wouldn't mind seeing it become the longest-running drama of any kind. Currently that record is held by Gunsmoke at 20 seasons. Grey's could get there! 

Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 Couples Status Check

It probably won't, but we can dream, can't we? 

E! News caught up with Pompeo on February 21 at at the Sergio Tacchini pop up shop she hosted along with husband Chris Ivery, and she reiterated a few of the most important elements of the potential end of Grey's

First, this season is probably not the end: "I'm contracted for season 16, if we get the pickup for season 16. We have not been picked up yet for season 16...I don't like to assume anything."

Second, Pompeo wants to branch out, but she is getting to do that on Grey's: "I'm definitely starting to branch out and do other things with my time...I'm definitely itchy to try some other things," but "we're having a great time. I'm enjoying feeling my success and this road that I've traveled, which isn't a typical one for an actor. Most actors would have peeled out by now...I never expected to be in this position on this show. I get to call a lot of shots, I have a lot of say." 


Third, the show will end when Shonda and Ellen want it to end: "I think Shonda has said publicly that we'll decide collectively when to wrap it up, and we'll end the show together. I don't think she has any plans to continue the show without me, or any of the originals for that matter...but who knows, it's Hollywood. They can kick you out any time they want...but I think she has said publicly that we'd like to end this together, and her and I and the other three originals that are on the show—Jim Pickens, Chandra Wilson, and Justin Chambers—I think we'd like to sort of finish this together." 

See below for everything else we know about the potential end of Grey's Anatomy

Ellen and Shonda's Pact

"Ellen and I have a pact that I'm going to do the show as long as she's going to do the show," creator Shonda Rhimes told E! News in 2017. "So, the show will exist as long as both of us want to do it. If she wants to stop, we're stopping. So, I don't know if we'll see 600, but I want to keep it feeling fresh. As long as there are fresh stories to tell and as long as we're both excited about the stories being told, we're in. So, we'll see where that takes us."

"Let's Just See"

In early 2017, Pompeo wasn't ready to say much about the future of the show. 

"I don't know. I know that we want to try to...Let's just see. I don't like to take things for granted because you can't just assume that the show can go on forever. It's up to the fans, and the fans will let us know how long they want the show to air." 

"Looking for a Change"

"I'm clearly not prepared right now to make any formal announcement about what my future is on the show, but I am really feeling like we have told the majority of the stories that we can tell," Pompeo told EW of continuing past season 16, back in September 2018. "It's about time that I mix it up. I'm definitely looking for a change."

Pompeo Needed to Be Incentivized

"What happened is that I went to Shonda and I said, 'If you're moving on to Netflix and you want the show to go down, I'm cool with that. But if you want it to continue, I need to be incentivized. I need to feel empowered and to feel ownership of this show,'" Pompeo told THR after Rhimes signed a huge deal with Netflix. "And she was like, 'I absolutely want to keep the show going. It's the mothership, so let's find a way to make you happy. What do you want?'"

"I'm Not Planning the End"

Current showrunner Krista Vernoff tells E! News that she's waiting to hear from Pompeo and Rhimes. 

"My take is that until Ellen and Shonda and ABC tell me together to plan the end, I'm not planning the end. Every few years, Ellen gives an interview where she challenges us to come up with new things to do and then she's like wow, you did it. So who knows? She's an incredible talent. I'm half convinced she does those interviews to light a fire, and it works." 

Day by Day

"I take it day by day and season by season," Pompeo told us a month or so after that EW quote first made the rounds. 

Season 16 Is Likely

During a TV Critics Association press conference in January 2019, new ABC president Karey Burke mistakenly said that the show had been renewed through season 16. 

"We're thrilled with Grey's Anatomy's performance. I was just over visiting the set this week. And I believe the status is that we are in conversations about continuing the show," she said. "The show was picked up for two seasons. I'm going to have to fact check. Somebody can tell me if I'm wrong...The show was picked up for two seasons last season, so we have another season to go and I'm sure we'll be planning for more." 

The show hasn't yet been officially renewed for a 16th season, but if the president is thinking it already has been, we'd be shocked if it didn't find itself renewed. Either way, Ellen Pompeo is contracted through 16. 

The Original Four

Aside from Pompeo, three other stars remain from the pilot of the series: James Pickens Jr., Chandra Wilson, and Justin Chambers. In February 2019, Pompeo said that they are also part of the pact she has with Rhimes about when the show will end. "I think we'd like to sort of finish this together," she said. It seems as if they're all in it for the long haul...

Bailey's Not Going Anywhere

When E! News asked how much longer she plans to do the show, Chandra Wilson said in 2017, "Until they tell us to go home. I don't even know what that number means." 

Wilson is part of the original four cast members who are still on the show, and she's planning on sticking around, but she's not so sure about trying to beat Gunsmoke's record of 635 episodes. 

"I'd have to start over again to get to Gunsmoke! Oh my god. From a historical standpoint, would love to be able to say I was a starter and a finisher. Actors don't get the opportunity to do that. I'd love to have the opportunity to put that personal star to put on my wall. I still enjoy Bailey immensely, I still learn from her. Until the wheels fall off, I guess." 

Webber Hopes to Stick Around Until the End

"As many as they want to give me," James Pickens Jr. said of how many more seasons he'll do back in 2017.

In January 2019, he told E! News, "I've had such a great time doing it. To be at this point in my career and still have a job...It's hard to say, maybe it's time to hang up. I'd love it, when it is time, I want to come in and turn off the OR light for the last time and have the show end there." 

Karev Is Also Still In

"A couple more seasons I hope," Justin Chambers told E! News in 2017. "Let's see what happens, but I'm not tired yet of going to work." 

In January 2019, Chambers told us, "Let's just do it season to season and go from there." His onscreen wife, Camilla Luddington, offered the one thing she needs to see before the show ends: "I at least want Alex and Jo to have kids and then I'll feel good. If I don't see them have a baby, it would be sad to walk away from that." 

We sure as hell won't be ready whenever Grey's Anatomy ends, but we'd also trust Ellen Pompeo with our life, so we'll trust her with this decision too. 

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

For more from Pompeo, watch the video above!