Grey’s Anatomy fans can breathe a sigh of relief. After months of speculation, ABC announced that the medical drama will return for season 18.
According to the announcement, not only will showrunner Krista Vernoff continue to helm Grey’s Anatomy and its spin-off, Station 19, which has also been renewed, but Ellen Pompeo has extended her contract and will continue to play Dr. Meredith Grey.
This is big news, as Pompeo, who also serves as a producer on the series, seemingly held the fate of the show in her hands. Just before season 17 began, Pompeo speculated that it could be the last season during an interview with Variety. “I mean, this is the last year of my contract right now. I don’t know that this is the last year? But it could very well could be,” she teased at the time.
Pompeo was still weighing her options well into filming, which was extra unnerving to fans because Meredith was in a coma due to COVID-19 for the bulk of the season. While this allowed for the return of characters like Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), George (T.R. Knight), DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti), and Lexie (Chyler Leigh), it also had big final-season energy.
“We honestly have not decided. We’re really trying to figure it out right now,” Pompeo told CBS Sunday Morning in a February interview. “It’s: What story do we tell? To end a show this iconic, you know, how do we do it? I just want to make sure we do this character and this show and the fans—I want to make sure we do it right.”
For her part, Vernoff had to make a game plan for either scenario. “I’m planning a season and a finale that could function as either a season finale or a series finale,” she told The Hollywood Reporter in March. “I’m planning for both contingencies and it’s hard and it’s not ideal. It’s not where I wish we were.”
It does seem like renewing the series was a win-win for everyone involved. With the new contract, Pompeo will remain the highest-paid woman on television, and ABC gets to keep its number one series.
“The writers, directors, casts, and crews of Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 worked so hard to bring these shows to life this past season,” Vernoff said in a statement. “Keeping each other safe on set while paying tribute to the front-line heroes and first responders has been a challenge and a privilege. I’ve been truly blown away—particularly by our tireless crews—as they reinvented the TV-making wheel. Thank you to ABC and ABC Signature for the support and extraordinary partnership through this unprecedented season. We are so grateful for the opportunity to tell more stories.”
Here’s everything we know about Grey’s Anatomy season 18:
Kate Burton will return. Deadline reports Burton is set to reprise her role as Ellis Grey, Meredith’s mom who passed away in season three after her battle with Alzheimer’s. It’s unclear how Ellis will appear on the show—but season 17 proved it is possible for late characters to show up. I’m thinking a dream sequence?
Peter Gallagher might be the key. Deadline reports that O.C. alum will play a recurring role, Dr. Alan Hamilton, “who knew Ellis Grey (Burton) back in the day and meets Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) in the season premiere.” Hamilton will have a “major arc” in the season.
The premiere date has been set. Mark your calendars for September 30.
This post will be updated as more information is revealed.