Grey’s Anatomy’s Ellen Pompeo is certainly the star of the show. After all, the “Grey” in Grey’s Anatomy‘s comes from the name of Ellen’s character, Meredith Grey. But Grey’s Anatomy is also an ensemble show, with numerous characters who have come and gone throughout its 13-season run. So fans often wonder – can the show survive if Ellen Pompeo ever decides to leave? According to the star herself, the answer is “No” – Grey’s Anatomy is about the journey of Meredith Grey, and that journey will end as the show ends.
No reason to be alarmed just yet, though – despite having been on Grey’s Anatomy for 13 years, Ellen Pompeo has no plans to leave anytime soon. Despite its long run, the show is still ABC’s top-rated drama and has already been renewed for Season 14 – with Ellen sticking around with most of the current cast. But in an interview with Variety, Ellen reveals Grey’s Anatomy would not go on without her, according to a promise she got from the series’ creator, Shonda Rhimes.
“Shonda and I have both said that when I’m ready to stop, we’re going to stop the show. The story is about Meredith Grey’s journey and when I’m done, the show will end.
“As far as how much longer I want to do the show, I’m mulling that over as we speak.”
According to Ellen, the fans of Grey’s Anatomy are the ones who will ultimately decide when the series will end – specifically when they lose interest. And until that happens, there’s no reason for her to leave.
“Why walk away from a hit? You don’t walk away from something for nothing. And with the track record out there, I’m good to keep doing it for now.”
Speaking of a bad track record, Ellen Pompeo might be referring to some of Grey’s Anatomy stars who have left the show in the past – without being able to advance their careers.
One of the first major departures from the series was that of Katherine Heigl, who left Grey’s Anatomy in the middle of Season 6, back in 2010. According to an interview she gave to Good Housekeeping magazine, Katherine’s main reason for leaving the show was her desire to devote more time to her family.
“We had big dreams of expanding our family, moving to the mountains and having a quieter life,” Katherine said of her and her husband, Josh Kelly. “Utah is spectacularly beautiful, the people are wonderful and kind, it’s an easy commute from L.A. – and there’s no traffic!”.
Katherine did go on to make movies such as The Big Wedding, but most of them were either very mild successes or full-on flops. Most other stars who have left Grey’s Anatomy have met with similar fates – T.R. Knight, Kim Raver and more recently Sara Ramirez, Sandra Oh and Patrick Dempsey, are yet to prove the grass is greener on the outside.
Considering this track record and the continued success of Grey’s Anatomy both creatively and with the ratings, it’s understandable why Ellen Pompeo is not planning to leave in the near future. In fact, her responsibilities on the series have increased, with Ellen directing an episode for the first time.
Last week’s Grey’s Anatomy episode “Be Still, My Heart” marked Ellen Pompeo’s directorial debut after 13 seasons. The episode, which was one of the more emotional ones seen this season, had several heartbreaking moments, depicting the deteriorating health of Maggie’s (Kelly McCreary) mother.
All good things must come to an end eventually, though, and Grey’s Anatomy will have an end as well at some point in the future. What will Ellen Pompeo do once the show is over? It won’t necessarily be in front of the camera.
“I’ve learned so much about producing, so much about directing, so much about running a show, that I have a whole other bag of tricks now and a whole other skill set that I’ve learned, so it goes beyond acting for me. I’ve taken a much bigger role now and I’m learning a lot. I’m still engaged there.”
But will we see Ellen Pompeo on another TV show similar to Grey’s Anatomy? Yes and no. Ellen is willing to go back to TV once Grey’s Anatomy is over, but she’s eyeing Netflix and definitely doesn’t want the burden of another full-length show.
“I’d never do another 24-episode per season show ever again, no. But I have the luxury of not doing that again. I’ll probably do a shorter series – Netflix or Hulu or Amazon with a 10-episode run. Something like that.”
So, if Ellen Pompeo’s belief that Grey’s Anatomy has no future without her is true, fans of the show should hope she stays on for long. But if the show continues to be as successful as it is right now – we have at least a few more seasons up ahead.
[Featured Image by Mark Davis/Getty Images]