Why Did Ellen Pompeo Leave Grey’s Anatomy?

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Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey in Grey's Anatomy Season 18
Credit: ABC

It's a sad day for Grey's Anatomy fans as another beloved character has announced her departure from the show. Ellen Pompeo, who stars in the show as Meredith Grey (yes, the Grey in Grey's Anatomy) is preparing to exit the show after being in it for 19 seasons.

On Instagram, the actress penned a love letter to her fans:

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"I am eternally grateful and humbled by the love and support you have all shown me, Meredith GREY and the show for 19 seasons! Through it all….none of it …would have been possible without the best fans in the world. You all are RIDERS and you all have made the ride so fun and ICONIC!!

I love you madly and appreciate you right back. This isn’t your first time on the rollercoaster… you know the show must go on and I’ll definitely be back to visit. With a lot of love and immense gratitude XoE 🙏🏼❤️"

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Among the original cast members, the last two remaining in the show are Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr., who both play Dr. Miranda Bailey and Dr. Richard Webber. The two are among the original cast members from Grey's Anatomy Season 1, which premiered in 2005.

Does Meredith Grey Die in Grey’s Anatomy?

Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey in Grey's Anatomy
Credit: ABC
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Shonda Rhimes, the creator of the show, has long been rumored to kill off the characters of actors she doesn't like. She admitted this to Larry Wilmore's The Nightly Show (via ET Online) but says "I'm not naming names."

While the showrunner did not talk about this any further, there have been rumors that this character was T.R. Knight's George O'Malley on Grey's Anatomy. But then again, Shonda is also the executive producer and creator of several other shows like Scandal, Private Practice, and Bridgerton. It's hard to pinpoint exactly who she is talking about in the interview.

Shonda Rhimes in an interview

So did Shonda kill off Ellen Pompeo's character in Grey's Anatomy? The answer is, no.

Last week, a promo teased an episode wherein Meredith prepares to leave for a fresh start in Boston. Another piece of evidence we have that Meredith won't suffer the same fate as her husband, Derek Shepherd (played by Patrick Dempsey), can be found in Ellen's farewell note. The actress says that she'll "definitely be back to visit."

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Adding to that is the fact that Shonda answered Ellen's post with:

"What a wild ride these past 19 seasons have been. None of it could have been possible without the incomparable @ellenpompeo, the one and only Meredith Grey. This isn't a goodbye, it's a see ya later! Can't wait to see what's in store for Ellen, Meredith and Grey Sloan Memorial. #greysanatomy."

Will Ellen Pompeo Be In Grey’s Anatomy Season 19?

Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey in Grey's Anatomy
Credit: ABC
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Yes, Ellen is still on Grey's Anatomy Season 19. However, this is her final season.

Prior to her farewell note, there were already reports that Ellen will have a limited role in this season. The previous rumors shared that Ellen will be scaling back her role to only 8 episodes. But as of this writing, she's already appeared in 7 episodes of Grey's Anatomy Season 19.

Ellen's final appearance on Grey's Anatomy will air in February, but she assured fans that she is open to returning in the future.

She will remain as an executive producer of the show and will continue to provide voiceover narration.

Is Ellen Pompeo Reuniting With Patrick Dempsey in a New Show?

Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey, Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd in Grey's Anatomy
Credit: ABC

Many fans were quick to speculate that the reason behind Ellen's departure from the show is so she could join her former co-star in a new show. But when asked about this, Patrick Dempsey told Entertainment Weekly:

"I saw that too. I think it's just probably because the show is on… and of course she's made an announcement, I think, about leaving the show or she's not on this season. It just is a real testament to the fans that they want to see that couple still together and what an impact it is.

But no, I haven't read anything, I haven't seen anything, and I haven't talked to her about it."


Ellen Pompeo has appeared in more than 400 episodes of Grey's Anatomy ever since it premiered in 2005.

Here's a look back at some of her best moments as Dr. Meredith Grey:

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