Grey’s Anatomy boss Krista Vernoff shared her decision to eliminate untimely deaths for her main cast members in Season 16.
Throughout the series’ existence, it has been known to shock its loyal viewers. In addition to the multiple romances between the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial, fans of the show have also endured saying goodbye to their favorite characters in tragic ways. On several occasions, a character will be killed off due to the actor or actress making the choice to leave the show for other opportunities.
Vernoff spoke to Us Weekly about what her thought process was while going into Season 16. She was also working on episodes for Grey‘s spinoff, Station 19, when she took over the series this year. During the interview, Vernoff told the publication that she wanted to go in a more positive direction with Grey’s than where she was going with Station 19.
“On Grey’s Anatomy, I did the opposite of what we did on Station 19,” Vernoff recalled.
“There had been so many tragic deaths for so many years on Grey’s Anatomy that I felt like the most surprising thing I could do, repeatedly, was to not kill someone.”
Prior to being the showrunner for the ABC hit, Vernoff worked as a writer for Grey’s from 2007-2011. She took some time away from the show before making her return in 2017. When she came back, Vernoff said one of her main objectives was to add more light to the series. According to her, Grey’s lost some of its comedic elements after Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) endured a fatal truck crash in Season 11. His death caused Grey’s’ main character, Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), alone with their three children.
“On [Grey’s Anatomy] everyone was so used to the shock death that they were always looking for shock death! So I felt like the more surprising thing was to bring the joy and turn up the humor and the playfulness that had, a little bit, fell out of the show in the wake of Derek’s death.”
Since her return, Vernoff also said several of the current doctors on the medical drama would’ve been killed off if she didn’t step in. One of the most recent storylines that could’ve involved an untimely death was when Dr. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) was written off the show. When Chambers announced his abrupt exit from Grey’s earlier this year, Vernoff said she considered allowing the character to die after his 16-season arc. However, Vernoff said she believed the fans would’ve been upset with her if she went in that direction. To prevent him from dying, the character left Seattle to join his ex-wife, Dr. Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), and his two secret children in Iowa.