Ellen Pompeo Says 'Grey's Anatomy' Fans Believing the End Is Near Are 'Not Far Off' (Exclusive)

The star also dished on Kate Walsh's anticipated return in season 18: '[She's] amazing!'

Ellen Pompeo is getting candid about the future of Grey's Anatomy.

After a nostalgic last season featuring the return of many fan favorites like Patrick Dempsey, T.R. Knight, Chyler Leigh, Eric Dane and Sarah Drew, some viewers speculated that ABC's long-running medical drama may be reaching the end of its run. Pompeo, who will be presenting Debbie Allen with the Governors Award at the Emmys on Sunday, acknowledged that those theories about Grey's and its future aren't "far off" from reality.

"They're not far off," she told ET's Nischelle Turner on the red carpet, looking chic in a black velvet Elie Saab jumpsuit accentuated by white piping and VRAI x RandM Illuminate hoop earrings. "I mean, I've been trying to get away for years. I have been trying. It's not because I haven't been trying. I have strong relationships at the network and they have been very, very good to me, and have incentivized me to stay."

The 51-year-old actress noted "creatively, as long as there's something to do," there will be incentive to keep the Grey's legacy going for as long as possible. "Miraculously, we keep coming up with ways to have a reason to stay and if there's a reason, that warrants it," Pompeo emphasized.

The thought of a 19th season, however, seemed to overwhelm Pompeo. "Oh please! Oh my goodness, can we pray together?" she exclaimed.

Pompeo also reflected on season 17, which saw her character, Meredith Grey, dealing with the effects from COVID-19 and spending a significant portion of the season in a coma.

"We had to work around COVID obviously and so we had to be creative and think of ways to keep the show going and still be safe. The coma was one and then the beach and the dream sequences was another and of course, bringing back people who had passed on to the other side," she said. "I think it just resonates with people right? Everyone wants to have one last conversation with someone they've lost."

And season 18 will continue with the revolving door of familiar faces. The latest to pop on by is Kate Walsh, who reprises her role as Addison Montgomery, for multiple episodes. Kate Burton will also return as Meredith's late mother, Ellis Grey, in a recurring capacity.

"Kate [Walsh] is amazing," Pompeo praised. "That's one of my favorite things about the show right now is having original cast members come back. It's so fun and so nostalgic and we all have such an incredible bond that's kind of hard to describe and it's been a lot of fun having everybody come back."

When asked when Grey's will definitively end, Pompeo politely declined to comment.

"I'm not really supposed to say anything about it," she said. "I don't want to be disrespectful to people I've promised things to." Here's to holding out hope that a season 19 is written in the stars. 

The 73rd Primetime Emmys, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, air live coast-to-coast Sunday, Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on CBS. Check out the complete winners list.  

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