After almost two decades on the air, Grey’s Anatomy may be coming to an end. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, showrunner Krista Vernoff confirmed that Season 17 could be the show’s last. “I’m planning a season and a finale that could function as either a season finale or a series finale," she told the outlet. "I'm planning for both contingencies and it's hard and it's not ideal. It's not where I wish we were."
This follows a turbulent year for the series, which was greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Season 16 ended prematurely amid film and TV shutdowns, and the Season 17 premiere was pushed from September to November, shortening the season from 22 episodes to 16. But if Grey’s does end after Season 17, star Ellen Pompeo wants to be clear that it won’t be because of COVID. That decision will only be made in regards to what’s best for the characters and the legacy of the show itself.
“It’s, ‘what story do we tell?’” Pompeo told CBS Sunday Morning earlier this month when asked about the show’s fate. “To end a show this iconic… how do we do it? I just wanna make sure we do this character and this show and the fans… I wanna make sure we do it right.”
The decision to end the show also won’t be because of ratings. Nearly two decades into its run, Grey’s remains ABC’s highest-rated scripted program — and one of the highest-rated scripted programs on all of broadcast TV. Instead, the choice will come down to figuring out if — after 16 years — the series has simply run its course.
Whatever its fate, fans can rest assured that Grey’s will get a proper ending. “I’ve told [the ABC executives] that I have to know before I’m making the [Season 17] finale [if it’s also the series finale], because there are a couple of character threads that will change,” Vernoff told The Hollywood Reporter. “Either there will be closure, or I will build something in that allows me to have a bit of a cliffhanger and a thread for next season.”
If the decision is made to end Grey’s Anatomy after the current season, hopefully it will be announced in plenty of time for viewers to emotionally prepare themselves, particularly if it means Meredith — who has been battling COVID all season — will really die. Then again, she’s pulled through plenty of times before, and it’s just as possible ABC will choose to keep its most successful series running for at least a few more seasons. An even 20 has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
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