The end of an era — for now. Grey’s Anatomy’s cast and fans alike tuned in to see the episode dedicated to Meredith Grey.
During a new episode of the hit ABC series, which premiered on Thursday, February 23, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) said goodbye to Grey Sloan Memorial after she decided to move her family to Boston. Before leaving, Meredith was celebrated by her friends and coworkers at a goodbye party.
“I’m only going to Boston and, you know I’ll probably be here next week,” she said before getting on a plane with her three children.
The door was left open for Meredith to make a potential return down the line. Her romance with Nick (Scott Speedman) was also left up in the air after their connection hit a snag in season 19.
After the emotional episode aired, Kerry Washington took to social media to congratulate Pompeo, 53, on her legacy. “Sending you soooo many flowers @ellenpompeo!!! Congrats on this new, exciting chapter!” the actress, 46, who starred in Shonda Rhimes‘ series Scandal, replied in the comments section of the creator’s tribute.
Rhimes, 53, for her part, wrote, “What a journey these 19 seasons have been! Wouldn’t trade them (or you) for the world. Beyond excited for your next chapter. See you later, Dr. Grey. ❤️.”
Pompeo, who has been on the medical drama since 2005, confirmed in September 2022 that she would be returning in a limited capacity to season 19.
“I’m going to always be a part of that show,” she told Deadline at the time about her part-time status. “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.”
The Boston native noted that Grey’s Anatomy would be “just fine without” her due to its success on the network. The series has previously parted ways with longtime cast members including Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, Justin Chambers, T. R. Knight, Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey.
After making the decision to move on to new projects, Pompeo hoped that fans would support her future endeavors.
“Hopefully, [Grey’s] fans [will watch],” she said about her upcoming Hulu limited series. “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.”
Although Thursday’s episode followed Meredith’s exit, the character is slated to make an onscreen visit in the season finale. Pompeo has previously expressed interest in making appearances on Grey’s Anatomy in the future.
“For the record, it’s not really my final [episode],” she told Entertainment Tonight earlier this month. “It’s a little bit of a trick they’re playing on people.”
Grey’s Anatomy airs on ABC Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.
Scroll on to see all the heartwarming messages from the Grey’s Anatomy cast: