In a way, Grey's Anatomy getting an 18th season feels similar to Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) being rescued from nearly drowning back in season 3. (Just one of her myriad near-death experiences.) This show very nearly didn't make it, but now it's coming back like nothing happened. According to Deadline, contracts for key players like Pompeo, Chandra Wilson (who plays Miranda Bailey), and James Pickens Jr. (who plays Richard Webber) were up at the end of Season 17. And it was unclear if the show would come to and end after the 17th season along with those contracts. Even the showrunner Krista Vernoff was left in the dark about a renewal until almost up to the very end.
"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 in mid-March. "I'm planning for both contingencies and it's hard and it's not ideal. It's not where I wish we were."
Two months later, she got her answer. Deadline reported in May that Grey's Anatomy would be back for at least one more season. But the core cast will look a lot different when the series returns.
When To Expect A Grey's Anatomy Season 18 Premiere Date
Grey's Anatomy is one of ABC's top-performing fall shows, and it usually premieres towards the end of September. This year, a likely premiere date could be Thursday, September 23. Of course, ABC doesn't generally start announcing these things until the end of summer, so maybe keep all your Thursdays in September clear just in case.
Who From The Grey's Cast Are Leaving
Season 17 saw one major character die and two other major ones leave. So the cast will be without some iconic long-standing characters when it comes back. One of the biggest changes is that Jesse Williams, who played Jackson Avery, left the show after 12 seasons.
That's a wrap on Jackson Avery 💙— Greys Anatomy (@GreysABC) May 23, 2021
(📷 @iJesseWilliams) pic.twitter.com/e7lq7K9A9A
His character was written out as wanting to move to Boston to run his foundation. Joining him at the foundation is Tom Koracik, so actor Greg Germann will also not be returning for season 18. And earlier in season 17, Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) was killed as he tried to expose a sex trafficking ring. He then appeared in a couple of dream sequences, but it's unlikely that he will return for any cameos in season 18.
The Main Grey's Cast Members Will Be Back
According to Deadline, Pompeo, Wilson, and Pickens Jr. all renewed their contracts for the next season. The outlet previously reported in 2020 that Kim Raver (who plays Teddy Altman), Camilla Luddington (who plays Jo Wilson) and Kevin McKidd (who plays Owen Hunt) had their contracts extended to a possible season 19, if ABC wants one.
And with Winston Ndugu (Anthony Hill) marrying Maggie Pierce in the season 17 finale, his series regular role likely isn't going anywhere for season 18. Likewise for Richard Flood, whose character Cormac Hayes was also made a series regular in season 17 and who remains Meredith's love interest.
Is Grey's Anatomy Season 18 The Final One?
Although some actors have room in their three-year contracts for a 19th season, Deadline was clear that Pompeo only signed on for a one-year contract extension. It's entirely possible that Season 18 could be the last season of Grey's ever, as Pompeo has mentioned in the past that she doesn't want to continue doing the show forever. And with exits of longtime stars like Williams and Gianniotti, it's only a matter of time before the show's lead wants to move on to other things too.
But, for now, Grey's will be back for at least one more season. Just enjoy it while it lasts.