Ellen Pompeo may be finished with acting once Grey’s Anatomy goes off the air. The medical drama, created by Shonda Rhimes, has been renewed for season 18 after wrapping its last season, incorporating the current pandemic into its storyline. The series revolves around the lives of the eponymous Dr. Meredith Grey and the medical staff at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital and is one of the most successful, long-running television shows ever. It continues to attract new viewers, making it a major hit with streaming on Netflix, and is currently the number one primetime drama on ABC.
Pompeo has been with the series since its inception in January 2005, becoming one of the longest cast members alongside Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. Pompeo serves as a producer on the show and is an executive producer of the spinoff firefighter drama Station 19. When Grey’s Anatomy was renewed for another season after much uncertainty, Pompeo extended her contract for one year and is guaranteed to receive $550,000 per episode, continuing to be the highest paid actress for a network television series.
Per ET Canada, Pompeo disclosed while speaking on the podcast Ladies First With Laura Brown that following the end of Grey’s Anatomy, she may be reaching the end of her road with acting, wanting to focus on other things, and talks about the struggles that come with the job, specifically on the show. However, Pompeo has kept her mind open about the possibility of acting again and has not explicitly stated that that part of her career is completely over, going on to say:
“I’m not saying I’ll never act again, I very well may, but I’m not super excited about continuing my acting career. I’m more entrepreneurial at this stage. I’m excited about investing in businesses, and starting business…The acting I feel like, even though I haven’t done a million different roles, I feel like I’ve done it. Sitting around in trailers, traveling around, shooting this in Atlanta, shooting that in Vancouver. I have no desire to go sit in trailers at 11 o’clock at night and wait to shoot scenes and have ADs knock on my door and tell me when I can eat lunch.”
It is understandable that Pompeo would feel that after playing a character on a hit television show for almost two decades, she would consider moving on to other aspects, especially since she will always be known as Meredith Grey to the industry and the public. During her time on the show, Pompeo has been an inspirational driving force for the industry, having been vocal on the gender wage gap in Hollywood and speaking out on the toxic work environment she endured for a period of time on the series.
With Grey’s Anatomy being so successful, Rhimes has frequently stated that the series will end when Pompeo no longer wants to continue, as she has consistently been the one constant of the show throughout its entire run. Pompeo’s legacy illustrates the impact she has had on the strong fanbase and is synonymous with her perseverance through the show’s tumultuous journey. When Grey’s Anatomy finally reaches its conclusion and takes its bow for Pompeo, it will be exciting to see where she goes next with her career.