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Ellen Pompeo Sends Message to ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Fans After 19 Seasons: ‘The Show Must Go On’

Ellen Pompeo Is Officially Leaving 'Grey's Anatomy' After 19 Seasons
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Her final bow. Ellen Pompeo thanked Grey’s Anatomy fans for their support after previously announcing her reduced role.

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

“I am eternally grateful and humbled by the love and support you have all shown me, Meredith GREY and the show for 19 seasons!” the actress, 53, captioned a stoic Instagram selfie on Thursday, November 17. “Through it all … none of it …would have been possible without the best fans in the world. You all are RIDERS and you all have made the ride so fun and ICONIC!!”

Pompeo, who has been playing Dr. Meredith Grey on the ABC drama since its 2005 premiere, continued: “I love you madly and appreciate you right back. This isn’t your first time on the rollercoaster… you know the show must go on and I’ll definitely be back to visit. With a lot of love and immense gratitude XoE 🙏🏼❤️.”

News broke in August that the Massachusetts native would only appear in a handful of season 19 episodes. At the time, TV Line reported that Pompeo would remain on the show behind the scenes as an executive producer and would continue to narrate the series.

Related: Who Quit? Who Was Fired? Grey’s Anatomy’s Biggest Exits

One month later, the Golden Globe nominee shed more light on her decision to step back from the Grey’s spotlight. “I’m going to always be a part of that show,” she told Deadline. “I’m an executive producer. I spent two decades of my career on [Grey’s Anatomy] — it’s my heart and soul. I’ll never truly be gone as long as [it’s] on the air.”

At the time, Pompeo hinted that the Shonda Rhimes series would be “just fine without” her in the leading role. “Hopefully, [Grey’s] fans [will watch,” she continued. “I know there’s no guarantee of that. But I’m going to put the same heart and passion into that. It’s just eight little episodes, so it won’t take too much of your time.”

Ellen Pompeo Is Officially Leaving 'Grey's Anatomy' After 19 Seasons
Ellen Pompeo. Courtesy of Ellen Pompeo/Instagram

Earlier this month, the network teased a glimpse of what will happen when the procedural returns after the new year — and revealed the date of Pompeo’s final episode. “Meredith leaves Seattle to begin again,” the teaser stated.

The season 19 winter premiere, titled “I’ll Follow the Sun,” will air on February 23. “Big last day!” Meredith says in the clip, hinting that the last few months were “a lot” for her as she made the decision to leave for Boston.

Related: Koracick's Back! Biggest ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Returns Over the Years

Over the years, Pompeo has been candid about potentially leaving the Grey’s universe — and her costars have come to terms with what the show will look like without their fearless leader.

“She’s been working so hard in this role for so long,” Sarah Drew, who played Dr. April Kepner on the series, exclusively told Us Weekly in September. “It makes sense that she wants to take a breather and pursue some other things — and still keep her foot in the door. … I wish her the best.”

One month later, Jaicy Elliot shared her two cents on Pompeo’s exit and teased what viewers can expect from the rest of season 19. “Even if she’s not there, she’s the DNA of the show,” the actress, who plays Taryn Helm, exclusively told Us. “So, she’s so present in the show. And you’ll get to know the interns, and they remind me of the first generation [of interns]. The show very much what you want it to be. It’s throwback. It’s really fun.”

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