Ellen Pompeo Will Be Appearing in ”Grey’s Anatomy’s” Next Season in a Limited Capacity

Ellen Pompeo at the InStyle Awards in 2017
Ellen Pompeo at the InStyle Awards in 2017. Photo by Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock (9168892kb)

Grey’s Anatomy is calling a code red.

We’re gearing up for the 19th season of the medical drama, but one key member of staff won’t be as present as usual.

Dr. Meredith Grey—AKA the titular character—will be scrubbing in for only eight of the upcoming season’s more than 20 episodes. It also means that she will not provide the narration for every episode as has been standard since the show’s inception in 2005.

The decision is due to Ellen Pompeo starring in Hulu’s limited series, Orphan, which is based on the true story of Ukranian-born Natalia Grace whose US adoptive parents claimed that she was actually an adult “sociopath” pretending to be a child and trying to con them. It marks Pompeo’s first acting role outside of Grey’s in almost two decades and she will also serve as executive producer on the project. 

Although she renewed her Grey’s contract for another year in January, the 52-year-old actress has admitted that she is ready to move on from the role which made her a household name. 

Telling Insider in December that she’s “been trying to focus on convincing everybody that [Grey’s Anatomy] should end,” Pompeo said, “I feel like I’m the super naïve one who keeps saying, ‘But what’s the story going to be, what story are we going to tell?‘ And everyone’s like, ‘Who cares, Ellen? It makes a gazillion dollars.’”

Producers have said that they will keep doing the show as long as she wants to, but perhaps this is the first indication that Dr. Grey plans to hang up her scrubs.