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Will Ellen Pompeo Be Back For Grey’s Anatomy’s Shortened Season 20? Debbie Allen Reveals Plans For Meredith

 Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey in Season 19 of Grey's Anatomy.
Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey in Season 19 of Grey's Anatomy.

Ellen Pompeo’s future on Grey’s Anatomy was a huge question mark in Season 19, as the star insisted that her exit was more of a “see you later” than a “goodbye” to Meredith. After appearing in only about half of the season’s episodes, Pompeo returned for the finale, seemingly setting up a story that would continue into the upcoming season. Now, with Season 20 being reduced to just 10 episodes because of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, will the Seattle medical drama still be able to make room for her Boston-centric storyline? Thankfully, Debbie Allen was able to answer that question.

Executive producer Debbie Allen — who also stars as Catherine Fox — discussed the upcoming season of the ABC hit, as the cast recently returned to the Grey’s Anatomy set to prep for the March 14 premiere. Despite Ellen Pompeo’s exit as a series regular, we haven’t seen the last of Meredith Grey, Allen said, and in fact her return will come sooner than we may have expected. When asked about Pompeo, Allen told ET:

Miss Thing is there, honey. She’s in the first episode, and she’s in the one I’m gonna direct, so she won’t be too far. I mean, we have to let her go and do some other things, but she’s still our queen. She’s still our No. 1 on the call sheet.

According to Debbie Allen, we will see Ellen Pompeo — who also is an executive producer — in at least two of the 10 episodes for the upcoming season, including the premiere. That’s great news for Grey’s Anatomy fans, especially given that Meredith got herself into a pretty precarious situation in the Season 19 finale, and we need to know what happens!

After moving to Boston for her daughter Zola to attend a school for gifted students, Meredith began working on Alzheimer’s research, where she soon apparently concluded that everything we thought we knew about the disease was wrong. At the risk of her funding and reputation, she went against the advice of her colleagues and divulged her findings to one of the top investors.

Ellen Pompeo seemed to be excited about this direction for her character, as she said the story is rooted in real, rapidly changing medical research, and ahead of the strikes, Pompeo said she hoped to make some appearances on the medical drama, if she had time.

In August 2022, the OG Grey’s Anatomy cast member signed on to executive produce and star in an untitled project based on the case of Natalia Barnett (whose story was portrayed in the 2023 docuseries The Curious Case Of Natalia Grace, available to stream with a Max subscription). It’s unknown what the status of the Hulu project is following the strikes, but it does appear that Ellen Pompeo still has at least a little time to devote to Grey’s.

We may not ever get Meredith Grey back full-time, but several other Grey’s Anatomy vets finalized their contracts for Season 20, and the new class of interns who joined the show in Season 19 are also expected to be back.

While we wait for March 14 to arrive, Grey’s Anatomy remains one of the best shows to binge on Netflix, and if you don’t have the time or will to rewatch all 19 seasons, we’ve got some great starting off points if you want to catch up on any of the show’s most popular eras.