Grey’s Anatomy‘s record-breaking run may continue. Renewal talks are underway for a potential 19th season of ABC’s flagship scripted series though sources caution that conversations are in early stages. I hear series star and co-executive producer Ellen Pompeo also has been approached about continuing on the show for another season.
Pompeo, who in the past couple of years has been open about her desire to bring Grey’s Anatomy to an end, last spring agreed to a one-year deal for Season 18. She was one of three remaining original cast members whose contracts were up at the end of Season 17; the other two, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr., signed multi-year new pacts, I hear.
The renewal talks’ timing is not a surprise. This is typically when ABC starts conversations with ABC Signature and Shondaland, which produce the long-running series, about another season. It is also when ABC Signature usually begins discussions with Pompeo if her contract is coming up.
Because of Grey’s Anatomy‘s legacy, the series would receive a royal sendoff when the time comes to end it. When ABC renewed the medical drama for an eighteenth season in May, it was not designated as final. Should that become the case, a decision has to be made in the next month or so to give Grey’s Anatomy creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes and executive producer/showrunner Krista Vernoff time to craft a proper finale.
If instead renewal talks continue and Pompeo engages in negotiations on a new contract, it is a promising sign that another season is a realistic possibility. That was the case last season when negotiations went down to the wire but Grey’s Anatomy ultimately returned for a 19th season with Pompeo, Wilson and Pickens Jr. all on board.
ABC brass would be happy to keep Grey’s Anatomy on the air for years to come. Eighteen seasons in, the series, the longest-running primetime medical drama in TV history, remains the network’s highest rated scripted series and one of the top scripted series on network television. Additionally, the series is a major profit generator for Disney and is lifting spinoff Station 19 through an integrated universe and frequent crossovers to become ABC’s second highest-rated scripted series behind Grey’s.
“We’re thrilled to have it on the lineup. It’s a gift,” Craig Erwich, President, ABC Entertainment and Hulu Originals, told Deadline in September. “As long as all of the producers and Ellen [Pompeo] feel like there are meaningful stories to tell, we’re going to continue to do the show.”
As for Pompeo, she already has been plotting her post-Grey’s Anatomy career but she also has expressed appreciation for her longstanding relationship with Disney-ABC.
“I’ve been trying to focus on convincing everybody that it should end,” she said in a recent interview with Insider. “I feel like I’m the super naive one who keeps saying, ‘But what’s the story going to be, what story are we going to tell?’” she continued. “And everyone’s like, ‘Who cares, Ellen? It makes a gazillion dollars.’”
After a Covid-themed Season 17 which explored the toll the pandemic has taken on healthcare workers, Grey’s Anatomy has returned to its roots, focusing on medical cases and relationships in the current eighteenth season which is set in a post-pandemic world.