‘Grey’s Anatomy‘ Sets Date For Ellen Pompeo’s Farewell Episode As Full-Time Cast Member – What’s Next For Meredith & ABC Series?

by Susan Ryant

SPOILER ALERT: The story includes details from the Nov. 10 Season 19 fall finale of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.

Grey’s Anatomy’s winter return, which has been set for Feb. 23, will feature the medical drama’s biggest departure, that of series’ lead Ellen Pompeo. A promo at the end of tonight’s fall finale teased the episode, in which “Meredith leaves Seattle.”(You can watch it above.)

For those following Meredith’s (Pompeo) storyline this season, that won’t be a surprise since she made the decision to move to Boston in last week’s episode after Zola fell in love with a school there and Jackson offered Meredith a job working on Alzheimer’s research.

As Deadline revealed in August, Pompeo is scaling back her on-screen presence on Grey’s Anatomy this season to eight episodes. Her Feb. 23 farewell as a core cast member, aptly titled “I’ll Follow the Sun” and written by Grey’s Anatomy executive producer/showrunner Krista Vernoff, is Episode 7. Pompeo, who is segueing to a Hulu limited series which she is starring in and executive producing, is expected to return for Grey’s Anatomy‘s Season 19 finale.

She remains an executive producer and will provide the voiceover narration for all episodes this season. In anticipation of Pompeo’s departure as Grey’s title character, the series this fall introduced a new group of interns in its biggest cast infusion to date.

The creative overhaul seems to be paying off, with the new characters receiving largely warm reception by fans, making a record 20th season of TV’s longest-running medical drama likely. According to sources, renewal talks have not started yet but are expected to soon. Additionally, Grey’s Anatomy studio ABC Signature will have to make new deals with a number of actors on the show whose contracts are up at the end of this season, including the last remaking original cast members, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr.

Like other prominent former cast members, including Jesse Williams (Jackson), Pompeo could continue to make appearances on the series beyond this season, I hear. She may also continue to do the series’ voiceover.

In tonight’s fall finale, Meredith announced her departure from Grey Sloan in an email. Understandably, her making the decision without consulting Nick upset him so he would not commit when Richard asked him whether he can count on him staying in Seattle. (Given the fact that Scott Speedman, who plays Nick, is not a series regular this season, the decision is pretty obvious.)

To make Meredith’s move even more permanent, her house burned to the ground with only the post-it she and Derek wrote their vows on surviving.

Still, no one was hurt and Meredith wrapped her last day at Grey Sloan in high spirits, being toasted by all her colleagues.