Rumblings that Grey's Anatomymay be nearing the end of its shelf life have gotten louder as season 17 resumes, and in a new interview, showrunner Krista Vernoff revealed she's approaching the end of the current season on dual tracks, which includes the potential end for ABC's biggest hit.
"I'm planning a season and a finale that could function as either a season finale or a series finale," Vernoff told The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm planning for both contingencies and it's hard and it's not ideal. It's not where I wish we were."
The recent remarks align with Grey's star Ellen Pompeo's comments on a February appearance on CBS Sunday Morning that she's still working out her future on the long-running medical drama, on which she's starred as Meredith Grey since 2005.
"I can't say. We honestly have not decided. We're really trying to figure it out right now," Pompeo said of whether the show will continue past season 17, which is the last year of her current contract.
Vernoff shared that she's asked ABC to inform her ahead of time if season 17 will indeed be the last.
"I've told them that I have to know before I'm making the finale what we're making," she said in the THR interview. "Because there are a couple of character threads that will change. I've got plans for both contingencies. Either there will be closure or I will build something in that allows me to have a bit of a cliffhanger and a thread for next season."
Operating with a level of uncertainty and producing Grey's, as well as the firefighter spinoff Station 19and her upcoming Katey Sagal drama, Rebel, has left Vernoff mentally exhausted.
"We are on fumes. I don't really have creative space for imaginings of what might happen next year; I'm trying to get through this season. Once I know if this is the final season or not, I can start to try to imagine other things," she said candidly. "But trying to simultaneously plan for the end of the series and the end of the season -- if it's not the end of the series -- it's like breaking two shows. That's what I've got bandwidth for. That, Station 19 and Rebel. That's enough."
Grey's stars have been vocal over the past several months about their desire for the groundbreaking drama to receive a proper sendoff. One of the last remaining OGs, Chandra Wilson, said she believes the series won't end just yet.
"I know from a creative standpoint there have been many 'This is how the season would end' conversations and then they all end up [not happening] because of a myriad of reasons. Because the network's not ready, the studio's not ready, the fanbase isn't ready, the numbers are too good, all of those things," Wilson told ET's Katie Krause in December. "Collectively, they've decided we're not going to put an end on it. We're just going to wait and see."
"Especially in light of what's happening right now, it's like, do we want the last season to be about COVID? Or do we want us to be able to put some nice ribbons around it with rainbows and balloons and things?" she continued. "I know on the creative end, the conversation comes up, but on our end, on the actor end, we're like, look, whatever it is that you want us to do. Whatever life you see for these characters, as actors, we're ready to bring that to life. So greater powers have those conversations than us."
"I don’t think so," he said, when asked if he thought this could be it. "But I think the show is too important to go out without a damn parade. Without us really knowing and having a real finale season where these writers are so overworked and depressed and in a rat race to try and get material out without all this uncertainty, that’s not the ideal scenario."
"I think they, and all of us, kind of deserve to have the time and space to map out how to end," Williams noted. "It’s just a flattering way of saying I hope not."
Grey's Anatomyreturns Thursday, March 11 for a two-hour crossover event with Station 19starting 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. For more, watch below.