Ellen Pompeo is overwhelmed by the impact of Grey's Anatomy.
The 48-year-old stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday, where she reveals that fans can definitely expect a 16th season and even says "there's just no end in sight" for the medical drama.
"My contract is till season 16, and so I'm completely obligated to do season 16," Pompeo says. "You know, these numbers, there's just no end in sight... The show is so popular."
Pompeo, who plays Dr. Meredith Grey on the ABC series, goes on to praise the host for giving her a platform to thank her fans.
"Everywhere I go -- whether it's Italy, whether it's France, London, Kansas -- people come up to me with tears in their eyes and tell me how meaningful is to them," Pompeo says, recalling a meaningful conversation she had with an actor after directing an episode.
"A teenager was in the show and he was gay and he played a gay character on my show, and after we had filmed the whole entire episode, he said to me, 'You know, my whole life I've watched with my parents and I sort of used the show as a way to tell my parents that I was gay. And to show my parents that it's OK, that I'm not different, there's nothing wrong with me. And Grey's really helped my parents to understand what having a gay son meant and that it wasn't necessarily a bad thing. And for my parents to now see me as an actor getting a part on this show has just been everything,'" she says with tears in her eyes.
A choked-up Pompeo continues, "So I gotta keep doing it, man. Because we're touching lives and making a difference."
Pompeo spoke about the show's impact in an interview with ET earlier this month.
"When you meet people [who] are going through things in their life and they say the show brings them solace and the show brings them comfort, whether they have cancer, whether they are an abuse victim, whether they're in a marginalized community -- even though it is a silly soap opera -- to know that you're really touching people and making people feel better, even if it's just because they're crying, it's meaningful," she said at the time. "As an actor, what we want to do is to tell stories and have those stories reach people."
"We are really, really touching people's lives. I see the effects of it everyday. I hear the stories. We really make a difference in people's lives," Pompeo added. "As an artist, to be able to touch people in a meaningful way, I don't take it for granted, that's for sure. I appreciate it."
The actress also shared that she and Shonda Rhimes, the show's creator, will "decide together" when the series will end, something she thinks will be an easy decision.
"I think the fans will let us know," she said. "When the numbers start to drop and people aren't watching the same, people aren't as passionate about it... it's time to call it."
While on Ellen, Pompeo also discusses her three children with husband Chris Ivery -- Stella, 9, Sienna, 4, and Eli, 1. Though she declines to pick a favorite kid -- "Ellen DeGeneres, don't you dare!" she exclaims after the host asks -- Pompeo does dish on how each child is smart in their own way.
"Stella's smart in that she knows how to go to her dad and get what she wants. Sienna's super smart because she'll just have a complete meltdown freak out and you'll give her whatever she wants to get her to shut up," Pompeo says. "Eli's super smart because he knows how to bat his eyes at you and you give him whatever he wants. Even though he can't speak, so he can't really ask for anything."
"They just all sound manipulative," DeGeneres says.
"Yes! Aren't all children? That's all they are is hungry, manipulative little creatures," Pompeo jokes. "They're always hungry and they always want everything."
"That's why I don't have them," DeGeneres quips.
Watch the video below for more with Pompeo:
Ellen Pompeo Says the Fans Will Determine When 'Grey's Anatomy' Will End (Exclusive)
Patrick Dempsey Praises 'Wonderful' Ellen Pompeo and 15 Seasons of 'Grey's Anatomy' (Exclusive)
Ellen Pompeo Hints She May Be Ready to Leave 'Grey's Anatomy' After Season 16