Jesse Williams Believes 'Grey's Anatomy' Can't End 'Without a Damn Parade' (Exclusive)

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Grey's Anatomy isn't ending anytime soon if Jesse Williams has anything to say about it.

The actor addressed whether season 17, which has put Meredith Grey through the wringer as she battles COVID and seen the returns of Patrick Dempsey and T.R. Knight, could be the long-running ABC medical drama's final chapter. Though speculation over Grey's final season has been a popular topic over the years as it nears 400 episodes, Williams was candid when asked about his feelings surrounding chatter that the current season could be it.

"I don’t think so," he told ET's Katie Krause recently while promoting his new ad campaign for Old Spice, of which he's a spokesperson. But added that he didn't ultimately know. (Ellen Pompeo's contract runs through season 17.)

"But I think the show is too important to go out without a damn parade," Williams said, acknowledging that putting out a season with the added stressors of the pandemic doesn't afford for an ideal swan song. "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," he noted. "It’s just a flattering way of saying I hope not."

Williams' co-star, Chandra Wilson, who is one of three remaining OG Grey's stars from the pilot (Pompeo and James Pickens Jr. are the others), also had a similar take.

"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 back 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."

Elsewhere in his ET interview, Williams also previewed the upcoming spring premiere, which he likened it to "pure madness." "I've got to say, we have found a way to have really highly concentrated, dense episodes towards the middle of the season with a lot of this incredible combination of loss and joy and progress in these characters' lives. But when [we] come back, yeah, it's going to be fairly terrifying and exhilarating."

Williams, who has played Jackson Avery on Grey's since season 6, admits he's "a little nervous" about Meredith's status when the show returns.

"There's got to be hope. As far as I can see, there's hope... In a lot of ways, we've all got a lot invested in this and she kind of represents both the sheer terror and the very real and reasonable feeling we have of what's kind of been washing over this. But also our fight, our 'stick to it[-ness],' our preparedness and it really does put into perspective, live your life now," he said. "Form your relationships now and people remember how you make them feel. I don’t think there’s anybody in TV history that’s made people feel as much as Meredith Grey."

Grey's Anatomy returns March 11 on ABC. For more on season 17, watch below.

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