Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) is shown on "Grey's Anatomy" last year, during Pompeo's final episode as a main cast member. The show is entering its staggering 20th season in March.
PASADENA, Calif. — As the long-running ABC medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” enters its staggering 20th season, the head of the network declined to address the perennial speculation on whether the show will finally end, leaving it open to even more seasons.
“Right now, our focus is on the immediate future of ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ which, as I mentioned, it’s celebrating 20 seasons, which is a remarkable achievement, both creatively and for the network, and for the audience and for the creators,” Disney Television Group President Craig Erwich, who oversees ABC’s programming, said Saturday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour when asked by HuffPost about the show’s future.
He added that the show’s upcoming milestone season will be celebrated with “a tremendous amount of fanfare — well deserved.”
Created by Shonda Rhimes in 2005, the series has gone through numerous transformations over its many seasons, including many cast member departures and multiple showrunners since Rhimes left ABC for Netflix a few years ago (though she remains an executive producer on the series).
Last year, Ellen Pompeo, who has played titular character Dr. Meredith Grey since the show’s inception, departed the series as a main cast member, but has continued to make special appearances from time to time. Only two of the show’s original cast members remain: Chandra Wilson, who told HuffPost in 2022 that she’s determined to stay on the series until the bitter end, and James Pickens Jr.
There have often been rumblings about if the show will ever come to a close. But given its devoted fan base and strong advertising revenue, ABC has continued to renew the show on a season-by-season basis.
Likely contributing to its longevity, the series has also found new generations of audiences on streaming, which Erwich alluded to Saturday. He said that in 2023, the show was the most viewed show on Disney+, at over 1 billion hours. The show’s back catalog has long been one of the most viewed shows on Netflix. As of next month, the show’s entire library will also be available to stream on Hulu and Disney+.
“I think the show is as creatively strong as it’s ever been,” Erwich said. “It is not just the life of viewers who are watching today, but it’s fueling growth for streaming platforms. I’m really looking forward to when ‘Grey’s’ comes on and we get the past seasons on Disney+, that seamless experience so that when people who are still starting Episode 1 20 seasons ago can watch it all the way through, and then concurrently kind of participate in the conversation that the show generates on a weekly basis.”
Also on Saturday, ABC announced that several old cast members will be returning to the show as guest stars in the 20th season, including Jessica Capshaw as Dr. Arizona Robbins, making her first appearance since leaving the show in 2018. In recent seasons, a number of previous cast members, including several long-departed original cast members, have made guest appearances.
The show’s 20th season premieres March 14.