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Ellen Pompeo Reduces ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 19 Appearances, Will Only Play Meredith in 8 Episodes

The doctor is not in. Ellen Pompeo will take a reduced role on Grey’s Anatomy, reportedly only appearing in a handful of episodes as Dr. Meredith Grey in season 19.

Related: Everything Ellen Pompeo Has Said About How Long She'll Stay on 'Grey's Anatomy'

The actress, 52, will continue to executive produce and narrate every episode, but she will physically appear on screen in a “limited capacity,” TVLine reported on Wednesday, August 3. Pompeo is set to star in just eight episodes. A season of Grey’s Anatomy typically has between 20 and 24 episodes.

'Grey's Anatomy' Reduces Ellen Pompeo's Season 19 Appearances, Will Only Play Meredith In 8 Episodes
Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey in ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ ABC/Eric McCandless

ABC announced in January that the medical drama was renewed and Pompeo — one of three remaining original cast members, along with Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. — would return for season 19.

The renewal came weeks after Pompeo made headlines in December 2021 for saying she’d “been trying to focus on convincing everybody that [Grey’s] should end.”

Related: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Behind-the-Scenes Drama: A Timeline

During an interview with Insider, she noted, “I feel like I’m the super naive one who keeps saying, ‘But what’s the story going to be, what story are we going to tell?’ Everyone’s like, ‘Who cares, Ellen? It makes a gazillion dollars.’”

In May, the Boston native hinted that instead of trying to end the show, she was trying to figure out how Grey’s could survive without her.

Shonda [Rhimes] and I, I think — we’ll see, we’ll see,” told Entertainment Tonight at the time of whether the show will last without her in the future. “Trying to reinvent the show and continually trying to reinvent the show is the challenge at this point.”

'Grey's Anatomy' Reduces Ellen Pompeo's Season 19 Appearances, Will Only Play Meredith In 8 Episodes
Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey. Kelsey McNeal/ABC/BSkyB/Kobal/Shutterstock

She added, “Listen, the show speaks to a lot of people, and the young people love the show. It’s inspired so many generations of healthcare workers, so, I think for the young people, it’s a really good piece of content and we’re going to try to keep it going for the young people, not necessarily with me, but keep it going beyond me.”

The following month, Eric Dane spoke out about Pompeo’s potential exit from the long-running show while on Andy Cohen’s SiriusXM radio show.

“I don’t know,” the Euphoria star, 49, told Cohen in June. “That’s a good question. You know, is it the show that’s the star? Or is it Ellen that’s the star of the show? And I don’t know. I think at this point, I think it could live without her, but I think it would be short-lived.”

Related: Every Time 'Grey’s Anatomy' Stars Spoke Up About Ellen Pompeo Leaving Show

There will be no shortage of doctors to focus on with Mer’s reduced presence. Though the teaching program was shut down at the end of last season, the fall episodes will pick up with their educational institution relaunching with a new class.

Alexis Floyd (Inventing Anna) will portray surgical resident Simone Griffin, who has a complicated history with the hospital. Niko Terho (The Thing About Harry) has been cast as Lucas Adams, a charming resident from a family of surgeons. Midori Francis (The Sex Lives of College Girls) will play Mika Yasuda, who is drowning in student loans but scrappy enough to be the best in her class. Adelaide Kane (Reign) will appear as Jules Millin, who is a rule-breaker from a family of hippies. Harry Shum Jr. (Glee) is set to portray Daniel “Blue” Kwan, who is used to winning everything, but a family crisis put his medical aspirations behind schedule.

Grey’s Anatomy season 19 premieres on ABC Thursday, October 6, at 9 p.m. ET.

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