Exclusive: Ellen Pompeo Opens Up About Her Uncertain Grey's Future and Likely Successor

Ellen Pompeo tells TVLine she has made no formal decision yet about extending her Grey’s Anatomy run beyond next season — nor has she been asked to. But should her swan song in fact air a year from now, at least one succession plan has the actress’ stamp of approval.

Series creator Shonda Rhimes volunteered to us on Friday that she is approaching Season 8 as quite possibly the “last hurrah” for her remaining original cast members, Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey included. “I really don’t know [who might re-sign] and I don’t presume to know,” Rhimes said. “Everybody has an individual choice to make and I get that.”

But Pompeo, when apprised of Rhimes’ stance, says she has yet to be presented with that choice. “No one has asked us to come back after Season 8, so I couldn’t presume that I’m coming back … if I haven’t been invited,” the actress told TVLine Friday night at the Young Hollywood Awards (airing May 26 on ION Television).

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Pompeo previously said she “would probably not renew” her contract with the ABC series, explaining, “I think I’ve told all the stories I can tell as Meredith Grey.” But she clarified that year-ago soundbite for us, saying, “It’s not as if I’ve been asked and I’ve said ‘I don’t know’ or ‘No.'” Rather, the topic of renewing “hasn’t even been mentioned to me.”

A show rep had no comment on this story.

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Should Pompeo ultimately pass on re-upping, Rhimes’ show would lose its original title character, leaving Mer’s half-sister Lexie to emerge as the new Grey in Grey’s Anatomy.

“I would totally take that on -– if that were to be the case,” Chyler Leigh said during a September Fancast.com Q&A. “I don’t know where Ellen is [with her thinking], but that would seem like the logical next step.”

Would such a succession plan get Pompeo’s blessing? “If that’s what Chyler wants, and that’s what everyone wants, of course!” she told us.

Pompeo did note, however, that there is “another sister” out there — Lexie’s sibling Molly, whom viewers fleetingly met in a handful of 2006-07 episodes (played by Mandy Siegfried). Offers Anatomy‘s current Grey, “I’m happy with whatever happens!” (With reporting by Louis Virtel)

What do you think, Grey’s faithful? Can/should the show move forward after next season with a different Grey at the fore?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Cat says:

    no Ellen Pompeo means no Greys for me. for sure.

  2. gardner says:

    if ellen and patrick out, I am out … they the only reason I am watching grey’s anatomy !!

  3. Mayra says:

    I love Lexie. But Meredith is Meredith, ahn?

    I don’t how the show could work without Mer. How Cristina can be around without Mer.

    Pompeo, we love you and we want you back for another 10 season :D

  4. PamelaJaye says:

    I love all Grey’s (even Ellis – I may have loved to hate her but I was glad she was there). Meredith is my favorite of course. I would love to see if they could find more story to tell about her (and also Alex) and I would love for her to stay on. If she did not, but the show did, I would keep watching. Unless they went to Africa like ER. I watch for escape and for a hospital show – not for political statements and consciousness raising.

  5. rebecca says:

    I will not watch Grey’s if they keep running after ellen leaves. she is the main reason I watch the show and I think shonda should have a series finale after season 8. Without ellen there is no Grey’s. Also, I hate lexi… MEREDITH GREY FOREVER!!!!! :)

  6. analhi says:

    if ellen pompeo and patrick dempsey leave the show! there’s no show! as simple as that

  7. Alyssa says:

    I agree with you, although i might watch it because ill be curious what new story lines they would bring in for the characters. In all honest opinion, the show has lost its magic. The cool surgeries that everyone wants to get in on, the romance that was forbidden, and most importantly, it isn’t funny anymore…it’s just exhausting! I will always be a faithful fan of meredith and derek because that’s the relationship everyone wants, but they should let it end. Every good tv show comes to an end, and it’s time this one does too

  8. Rosa says:

    Ellen wants to come back with a huge paycheck….lol that’s how this reads to me. She will come back if the money is RIGHT.

  9. CharlieSue says:

    If Merder was still so popular why did the two last episodes TANKED? Aside from the obsessed merder fans online I doubt the general public are so invested on them anymore. There are plenty of other interesting characters. The least interesting character is Avery.

    • Beth says:

      And the much promoted Calzona wedding was a ratings bust.The season premier was about 16 million and the ratings slipped downward all season long to end around 10 million. They averaged 11 million for the season and are not even in the top 20 anymore. It’s not the specific actors or characters. It’s the writing and the story lines.Patrick Dempsey,in the episode before the finale, had 5 minutes of screen time. Why watch the show when you can watch those few minutes on youtube?

  10. Cynthia says:

    I for one would not watch a Grey’s without Meredith.

  11. ANN says:

    Ellen and Patrick together with the rest of the original cast makes Grey’s successful. The introduction of half baked stories involving the new cast at the expense of the original characters’ storyline caused the decline in the quality of the show. The low ratings is a reflection of that loss of interest for most fans. I think only the die hard fans of the original cast are left watching the show.

  12. danie says:

    you should run ellen, run … !! you deserve better ! grey’s anatomy suck now !! please leave …

  13. lili says:

    I like Lexie Grey. But NO, I won’t be excited waiting for a new Grey’s episode for her. Meredith Grey makes the show for me.
    For that very first scene of this show when Meredith threw Derek out of the house, I already liked her. Now I freaking love her. She is such an intriguing character. Hated her when she didn’t swim in Season 3. But her character growth is inspiring. How could a neglected and emotionally abused childhood produce such a compassionate and fiercely loyal woman? She is also pretty, smart, talented and good at her job.
    I’ve been a sucker for this getting-ridiculous show because I want to know what happens to Meredith Grey. I get very irritated when her storyline is not given enough screen time. But I keep coming back, why? Because I am such a fan of Meredith Grey.
    Having said that though, I wish Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey won’t renew their contracts. Grey’s should finish Season 8. Shonda Rhimes should show us how all these end because I am anxious to know the end. And I am such a fan of Ellen Pompeo. I can not wait she shows her amazing talent in other projects. I for one cannot wait to see her in films.
    I hope Shonda Rhimes stop wasting time telling the stories of Calzona, Teddy, etc. Meredith and Derek and other original characters should be the focussed of Season 8. THEY DESERVE IT. Let them finish with a bang!

  14. Sandy says:

    I don’t mind Lexie, but do not want her as the lead. The only connection Lexie really has to the story behind Grey’s Anatomy (ie Ellis/Chief/Mer) is Meredith and we’ve seen little to none of that. Ellis was the great chick surgeon who had an affair with the Chief and now Meredith works with him and the story of her friends behind it. It’s her, Cris, Alex, Chief, Bailey (and past Izzie, George, Burke’s) story. Lexie is in there because of Mer. We see Der has friends from his internship to this day much as Mer, but Lexie has no friends her won age/position on the show. She just hands with Mer’s friends and is in the background of Meredith’s life. There’s no background story of Lexie that is at the heart of Grey’s nor will it ever be. She’s a great supporting character, but IF Ellen leaves and I hope she doesn’t, then I’m not going to be interested in seeing Lexie lead this show. Sorry, Meredith has been there since the first scene. She is the heart of the show and her friends from the first season are what still carries this show for me. Not Lexie even though Chyler seems lovely. ABC don’t let Ellen go. She rocks it weekly.

  15. pinky says:

    come on ellen, do another big movie, grey’s anatomy its not about merder anymore, the show its SUCK

  16. maggie says:

    sorry but ellen is the grey in grey anatomy. no one can replace her. if she goes i go. she is the the fundamental of the show!!

  17. marissa says:

    I think Greys should be done if Ellen leaves. She is great actress. I feel the writers should protray her more like. They did in Almost grown and Golden hour. I feel their is no show with out Ellen. I love patrick too. Put each week I tune in to see Meredith/ Ellen, Please give her and raise and happier storylines and utilize her talent as a doctor/actress like season past if you want people to stick around and watch greys.

  18. rr says:

    No Meredith = No Grey’s!!!!

  19. joann says:

    i dont like the idea of ellen leaving the show most people i know who are fans. ellen & derrrick are their favorite couple and just so look forward to the story lines… of them the what they have come up against. I just dont see Lexie… filling her spot. I like her and all.. but it just wouldnt be the same in any way shape or form without mer and der.. oh no… you cant write them out…
    they are the whole show…. and from the beginning when they met & all they went thru with his ex wife and all they are such a big part of the show.. it just wouldnt be the sme wouldnt them… how could anyone even consider not having them in the show or the cast no way…at all.. bad move….. it will lose much of its fan & popularity for sure…. sincerely jl.

  20. Mandy says:

    I would hope that whoever decides not to renew will be given the chance to give the writers lots of notice so that storylines can be wrapped up. I want to see all the characters get happy or semi-happy endings so notice is required for that.

  21. Dee says:


    Wasn’t this exact question asked last year at this time? It seems like you (shonda?) are floating the question to gauge view response.I don’t think they sign their contracts for season eight until June and start filming again in July.Grey’s ratings have declined this past season so not sure season nine will even be on the table.Lexie is okay but I won’t be watching when or even if Pompeo leaves.

  22. Jimbaliah says:

    I’d be disappointed if Pompeo left… I guess I’m one of the few people that love the character of Meredith? She has always been one of my favorites characters. I would hope the other originals don’t leave if Ellen and Patrick decide not to renew… I mean c’mon, what has Justin Chambers done in the past 7 years?? lol.

  23. enijra says:

    i’m not a big fan of mer/der because i’m more interested with cristina/owen duo however cris,mer and alex are the only remaining original characters (aside from the attending) after izzie and george left the show. oh come on..accept the fact that without them ‘greys anatomy’ will sink. I like Cristina so much as well as Owen but i cant imagine how Cristina walk down the hall without seeing mer. They are bestfriends. The original characters deserves more up to the end of the show. Dont be stupid,without Mer,Cristina,Alex,Derek and Owen the show will no longer deserve the fans..its over,just think of it SR.

  24. julia says:

    I hope Ellen will confirm soon that S8 is going to be her last season!! Come on Ellie… :) I am dying you doing movie

  25. brianna says:

    with out Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey their really is no Grey’s Anatomy i will die if they dont resign!!! :'(

  26. Casandra Anglin says:

    Taking Meredith from the show would be like living with out oxygen. If there is no Meredith Grey, there is no Grey’s Anatomy. She is the GREY in Grey’s Anatomy. If she were to leave the show, I definitely would no longer be a viewer. I couldn’t see anyone besides Ellen starring in the role.

  27. mk says:

    you people are afraid of chnage and ur just saying you dont like lexie so mer will stay get over it i am sure thy will spice up lexie’s character and drama if she becomes the focus like maybey she cheats on avery with karev or mark and gets pregnant you dont know so try to be open maybey they could bring izzie back because there was no episode were it actually said she died maybey she was in hiding or something

  28. Natalia says:

    I definitely will not continue to watch Grey’s if they put out the original casts … there’ll be no show without the original casts!!!!!

  29. charlotte says:

    meredith is such an annoying character, we wouldnt have to listen to her drony monologues at least. but i think the show would lose something (that depressive, whiny edge maybe?).
    however the show does need a protagonist, and i think lexi would be really bad at that. but then how could it be called greys anatomy?
    p.s lexi isnt as slutty as meredith so the ‘anatomy’ part would have to be scrapped.

    cristina and alex are the best original characters, as long as it’s not completely new cast all at once then the show must go on ;O

  30. Bianca says:

    I love meredith, if she not in the show any more I will definitiy stop watching and I am pretty so would ALOT of other people. Meredith is the heart and soul of the show they should cancel it if Ellen leaves.

  31. Glo says:

    What the hell was that song episode about? Buy some new writers, grey’s is great when it’s funny. When it started off it was funnier. I get that the angst is necessary, hell, sometimes it’s even good! But give it a rest now and again and make us smile, you’re good at it!!! Sloan, Bailey and the cheif rock the funny bits.

  32. Nicole G. Barros says:

    Encuentro que sin meredith o Ellen no seria lo mismo la serie pues lexie no es del gusto de muchos y meredith atrae mucha mas gente, en mi caso solo veo grey’s Anatomy por ella y por los personajes que giran entorno a ella, si cambiaran a la protagonista lo mas probable es que muchos dejen de seguirla…

  33. d_yanera says:

    If they do that, then it turns out in a “regular” show, as many others, where the main character get married in a big wedding. Please, people can marry without that crap! And that’s the beauty of Grey’s Anatomy. I think if they marry the way most people do (and think that’s the “right” way) THAT would be a dissapointment. I’m happy to see that the didn’t marry in a big wedding… Please!

  34. Jackie says:

    It’s Spelt Derek not derick so get it right and the show could easily go on without ellen I love her but there are other characters and lexie could be the lead it would be great to see more of her

  35. Madison says:

    If the shows original cast members leave, I will not watch the show, as I’ve done with ER and many other shows!!! It’s just not the same!! If they do lose the original cast members, I promise that show will only last another season, IF that…don’t do it ABC!!!! renew their contract!! i love love love this show!!!

  36. mynameisdew says:

    I would love lexie to be the next grey. dont get me wrong, i love Mer/Der, but they kinda got their happy ending. Lexie is smart, funny and gorgeous. And you can relate to her, cause she just want everything so badly. so im pro, for chyler taking on the lead.

  37. Amanda says:

    I would rather have a grey’s anatomy with lexie as the leaf than no grey’s at all. And for the people who talk about her just being there to fall in love, we know she is meant to be with mark, but just like merder, it will take time before they get together.

  38. amanda says:

    Lead not leaf

  39. Amanda says:

    It’s Spelled “SPELLED” Not Spelt you get it right.

    • James Woods says:

      Amanda, you may wish to check a dictionary before correcting somone else’s spelling.
      Spelt is the correct past tense of spell. Spelled is a newer less used and/or accepted term.
      Also the syntax of your sentence is incorrect. Your statement “Not spelt you get it right” makes no logical sense.
      In future you may find it best not to correct others spelling, syntax or grammar without first correcting your own.

  40. splashgill says:

    I think they should call the show quits. What else has the show got to say? Derk and Meredith got their happy ever after, Christina and Owen are about to break up…. They’re all having kids, which is kind of ruining the show.

  41. Cheryl says:

    That’s what I thought. Are they going to bring her back from the dead?