Warning: SPOILERS for Grey’s Anatomy ahead.
Grey’s Anatomy may have been renewed for season 19, but with Hamilton’s offer to Meredith to work at the Grey Center permanently, one may wonder if Grey’s Anatomy could be able to survive Meredith Grey leaving. Despite the ABC drama’s dwindling viewership and ratings, Grey’s Anatomy’s renewal was confirmed in January. Still, especially considering how Meredith’s storylines in Grey’s Anatomy seasons 17 and 18 either had her unconscious or outside Seattle, it wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable to think that the time of Ellen Pompeo’s exit and Meredith’s departure from the show might come sooner than Grey’s Anatomy’s ending.
Meredith’s potential departure from Grey’s Anatomy would definitely be momentous, as not only is she the show’s titular character, but she’s also the last one of the MAGIC group still at Grey Sloan Memorial. While Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) and Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) have been there with her for the entirety of the medical drama’s run, they were in a very different capacity, as they were her teachers. Meredith is the only one of the old guard of residents to have grown as a surgeon there, while Alex, Izzy, and Cristina had already moved on to other jobs and lives in different moments following George’s death.
Whether Grey’s Anatomy could really survive Meredith leaving the show might get an ambiguous answer, especially as the medical drama has changed a lot throughout the years. Grey’s Anatomy went from centering around five central residents plus more added as the seasons moved along to being all about Meredith. As Cristina reminded Meredith that she “was the sun” and not Derek, she became even more central to the show, especially after Derek died in Grey’s Anatomy season 11. With most from the original Grey’s Anatomy season 1 cast leaving, Meredith became the glue to unite the old and new guard of residents of the show, having grown from student to teacher and becoming the only constant to do so and still remain in Grey’s Anatomy. Considering that, it would be almost unthinkable to believe Grey’s Anatomy could survive even Meredith leaving.
Still, in season 17, Grey’s Anatomy changed back to resemble its first seasons, focusing on other characters more, including Meredith's sisters Amelia and Maggie, Jo Wilson, and many others. This was necessary as Meredith caught Covid-19 and was hospitalized throughout season 17, so despite the fact that she was still central as all were rooting for her, her family's and colleagues’ stories took center stage. Even Grey’s Anatomy season 18 had Meredith take a back seat at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, as she had to split her time between there and The Grey Center in Minnesota, which further reduced Meredith’s involvement with her colleagues at Grey Sloan and will push them to a breaking point, at least considering what could be seen from Grey’s Anatomy season 18 episode 15’s trailer.
While Pompeo was confirmed to return as Meredith for Grey’s Anatomy season 19, David Hamilton’s permanent job offer to her in Minnesota could linger on and be central to the show. If Meredith were to accept it part-time just like she did with the Parkinson’s research, it would be a temporary fix that could provide Pompeo a way out of Grey’s Anatomy if the show were to be confirmed for season 20. Whether or not that would be the case, though, if Meredith were to leave with Grey’s Anatomy continuing, the successful medical drama would never be the same, and Grey’s Anatomy’s survival may not be guaranteed.
New episodes of Grey's Anatomy release Thursdays on ABC.