There are some television shows that have been on air so long we don’t know what we’d do if they ever ended. Fans of Grey’s Anatomy, have had 18 seasons of drama, tears, triumphs, and stories. But even the best shows have to come to an end at some point.
With the way the storyline is heading in Season 18, fans are concerned Meredith is leaving Grey’s Anatomy and if so, is it Ellen Pompeo who’s really leaving? Here’s what we know.
Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Season 18 of Grey's Anatomy.
Is Meredith leaving ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?
Fans of the long-running ABC show are used to having the storyline take a direction they weren’t expecting. We’ve had to say goodbye to favorites, or watch our favorite couples split up and go in different directions. And each time it happens, we hold on to hope that the doctors we’re really rooting for don’t end up going anywhere.
For the past 18 seasons, the namesake of the show, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), has been woven into every storyline. She’s the one we’ve cheered and cried for. All of the characters are in her world, not the other way around.
What would the show be like without her? Could there even be a show without her? Fans have been worried about this being a real possibility during the first few episodes of Season 18. During the season premiere episode, which aired Sept. 30, 2021, Meredith got a job offer that seemed way too good to be true. Or, more accurately, seemed too good for her to pass up.
In the episode, Meredith is in Minnesota. She is presented with her own research lab when she meets neurosurgeon David Hamilton (Peter Gallagher). Meredith thinks she was invited down to see the dedication of the facility to her mother. But, instead, she's offered the opportunity to run the entire lab herself – but in Minnesota and not Seattle, so she’d have to leave Grey Sloan Memorial. And Dr. Hamilton makes the offer nearly impossible to pass up.
"I'm developing experimental surgery for Parkinson's,” Hamilton tells Meredith. “I have the money. I have the toys. I have the cells. I just need a surgeon to present the FDA to grant me the approval for a clinical trial."
And that’s where fans were left to worry. But we got more answers on the season’s second episode on Oct. 7, when Meredith’s sister-in-law, Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) makes a last-minute trip to Minnesota and runs into Meredith.
When Meredith tells Amelia of the offer, she realizes that it's something she has to do – and Meredith also floats the idea of Amelia working with her there, too. Now, not only were fans faced with the potential of losing Meredith, but Amelia, as well!
Thankfully, in the very last seconds of the episode, Meredith asks to move the research lab to Grey Sloan, which would allow her to take the job but not leave the city. At first, that idea is shot down, but Meredith takes one more swing at it.
“I could set up a satellite lab in Seattle” she proposes, offering to go back and forth from Seattle to Minnesota once a week. “Done,” Hamilton replies. “Does this mean you’re in?”
So far, all signs point to that being the plan moving forward. She's going to take the job, but stay in Seattle for the majority of the time. So Meredith isn’t leaving, yet.
Is Ellen Pompeo’s contract ending with the show?
When ABC renewed the show for Season 18, Ellen signed a new contract, keeping her in the show for at least that season. The details of her contract weren’t made public, but The Hollywood Reporter states that she did receive another salary increase. No decisions on a potential Season 19 have been reported.
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.