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?