“Grey’s Anatomy” — already the longest-running primetime medical drama in television history — has been renewed by ABC for its 19th season, with star Ellen Pompeo set to return as Meredith Grey. Whereas last year the show’s renewal came down to the wire, and was announced in May, this time there’s no such cliffhanger. Pompeo, currently a co-executive producer, is being bumped to executive producer as of next season. Along with Pompeo’s return, ABC announced that executive producer Krista Vernoff — showrunner since Season 14 when creator Shonda Rhimes handed over its reins — will continue to oversee the show. Original cast members Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. are also set to return for Season 19.
After all these years, “Grey’s Anatomy” remains ABC’s top-rated show, and in the 18-to-49 demographic, it’s tied for No. 1 as broadcast television’s top-rated drama. (Its spinoff “Station 19,” which Vernoff also runs, frequently shares storylines with “Grey’s,” and is expected to be renewed later this year.)
More from Variety
Whereas the 17th season of “Grey’s Anatomy” was dedicated to frontline workers and took on the COVID-19 pandemic in earnest, with Meredith herself nearly dying, Season 18 is set in a fictional post-pandemic world. In the show’s season premiere in September, Scott Speedman made his debut as a series regular playing Nick Marsh, the Minneapolis-based transplant surgeon who’d first met Meredith in the show’s 14th season. Since Meredith now commutes to Minneapolis while she attempts to cure Parkinson’s Disease — as funded by Dr. David Hamilton (Peter Gallagher) — Meredith and Nick are now dating.
Past cast members Kate Walsh, Abigail Spencer and Kate Burton have also made appearances this season, and new characters Kai Bartley (E.R. Fightmaster) — the show’s first non-binary doctor — and Michelle Lin (Lynn Chen) have been added to the fold.
Rhimes, in a Variety cover story in November, delved into the long-running show’s legacy. She said that while she wishes the show would be thought of for how it inspired so many women to become doctors, she’s clear-eyed about how “Grey’s Anatomy” is viewed: as a revolutionary moment for inclusiveness on television.
“Sadly, I think the legacy might simply just be that we made it possible for more people of color to have jobs on camera on television,” Rhimes said, “which makes me embarrassed for television.”
Rhimes added that the show’s longevity is “inspiring” to her.
“I have a 19-year-old who’s in college right now,” she said. “And when that 19-year-old was strapped to my chest as a baby, I wrote a show, and that show is still on the air.”
Executives poured in praise upon announcing the renewal, lauding “Grey’s Anatomy” as an enduring global sensation.
“‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is a true phenomenon, beloved by audiences around the world. Whether they catch it live on ABC, or stream it on Hulu or globally on Disney Plus or Star Plus, it’s clear that fans can’t get enough of Shonda Rhimes’ brilliant creation,” said Dana Walden, the chairman of entertainment at Walt Disney Television. “We have enormous faith in Shonda, Krista Vernoff, Ellen Pompeo and the entire creative team to unlock new, untold stories that will continue to focus on modern medicine, tackle the issues that shape the world around us, and resonate deeply with loyal fans for years to come.”
“I couldn’t be more excited that we get to keep telling the stories of Meredith, Bailey, Richard and all of the other doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial for another season,” said Rhimes. “This is a true testament to Krista Vernoff, the cast, the crew and all the writers who keep the audience on the edge of their seat week after week. And it would not be possible without the generations of incredible fans who have supported ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ for so many years.”
“‘Grey’s Anatomy’ has a global impact that can’t be overstated. ‘Grey’s’ touches, and sometimes changes, hearts and minds worldwide through the depth of connection people feel with these characters,” said Vernoff. “I’m excited to work with our extraordinary writers to dream up where we go from here, and I’m always grateful to our partners at Disney and ABC for letting us tell bold stories with real impact.”
“Grey’s Anatomy” is executive produced by Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Vernoff, Debbie Allen, Meg Marinis and Mark Gordon, and Pompeo for Season 19. Zoanne Clack is the show’s medical advisor and executive producer. “Grey’s Anatomy” is produced by ABC Signature, which is part of Disney Television Studios.
Best of Variety