Meredith Grey
Source: ABC

Does [SPOILER'S] Return To 'Grey's Anatomy' Signal That the Show Is Ending?


Feb. 23 2021, Updated 11:10 a.m. ET

Even if you don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy, you know by now that something BIG happened on the Season 17 premiere because the news is everywhere. Warning: As you probably deduced, this article discusses major plot points from the medical drama’s Nov. 12 episode. So if you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, stop reading and go stream it… NOW.

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The premiere ended with the return of Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), who last appeared on the series in 2015. Yes, the moment was part of a dream sequence that occurred following Meredith Grey’s (Ellen Pompeo) collapse in the parking lot of Grey Sloan Memorial, but it still gave fans hope that we’d be seeing more of the beloved couple — even if their interactions are limited to the subconscious.

Naturally, Meredith’s encounter with Derek raised a lot of questions about her mortality. Reuniting with your dead husband usually means that you yourself have died, right? Or could it be that the doctor is so physically and emotionally drained from dealing with the COVID-19 crisis that she’s hallucinating McDreamy? Here’s what we know about the shocking twist.

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Does Meredith Grey die in Season 17 of 'Grey's Anatomy'?

The show’s cast and crew are keeping this season’s storylines very close to the chest, and have only vaguely addressed rumors that Meredith is the next character to die in the series. 

derek shepherd greys anatomy
Source: ABC
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"You can’t read into anything. Really, that’s dangerous territory," Ellen, who’s been with Grey’s since the pilot, told Deadline when asked if this is the beginning of the end. 

"I think that, collectively, we, or creatively, it’s the same this year as it always is," she said. "Is there a reason to continue? What stories do we have to tell? What characters do we have to bring back that gives us story to tell?"

The 51-year-old added that her future with the ABC drama remains undetermined for the time being. "At this point, I think, we don’t know what we’re going to do," she admitted. "We know that we’re grateful… that we’re able to keep continuing to grow, and to tell stories that we think are important, and getting this moment."

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Ellen Pompeo previously hinted that Season 17 could be the show's last.

This year marks the end of the actress’ current contract with ABC, and she has yet to reveal whether that multimillion-dollar deal will be extended. 

ellen pompeo greys anatomy
Source: ABC
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"We don’t know when the show is really ending yet. But the truth is, this year could be it," Ellen shared with Variety last month. Grey’s producers have noted in the past that the series will likely conclude when their leading lady is ready to turn in her scrubs. 

"I don’t take the decision lightly," the mother of three stated when talking about her eventual exit. "We employ a lot of people, and we have a huge platform. And I’m very grateful for it."

Showrunner Krista Vernoff added that there’s no cause for alarm. "We’ve blown past so many potential endings to Grey’s Anatomy that I always assume it can go on forever," she told Variety.

One thing that might change going forward if the drama does get picked up for another season is the amount of time spent on set. "Nobody should be working 16 hours a day, 10 months a year — nobody," Ellen declared. "I hope post-COVID nobody ever goes back to 24 or 22 episodes a season."

New episodes of Grey’s Anatomy air Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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