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Grey’s Anatomy Season 19 Showrunner Teases Meredith’s Exit Storyline

Showrunner Krista Vernoff teases what will take Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey offscreen in Grey’s Anatomy season 19. As its lead character, Meredith has played a vital role in the ABC drama since its inception in 2005. However, her role on Grey’s Anatomy is changing in season 19, where she’ll appear in only eight of the season’s likely 20+ episodes. Pompeo made the decision herself, wanting more time to work on other projects, including an upcoming limited series for Hulu.

Within the show’s world, season 19 is poised to be a big one for Grey Sloan Memorial. At the end of last season, the hospital’s residency program lost its accreditation, which led Bailey to resign as Chief of Surgery. Jackson convinced Meredith to take on the role temporarily, and a Grey’s Anatomy season 19 trailer shows her leading a brand-new group of interns. In September, Vernoff stated Pompeo will be in the first eight episodes of the season, presumably rather than appearing in random episodes throughout. This information suggests something big will have to occur to take Meredith offscreen for such an extended period.

Per an interview shared by Variety, Vernoff shed some light on the circumstances of Meredith’s exit in Grey’s Anatomy season 19, hinting it will involve her home life rather than her career. Vernoff explained:

When you’ve got a woman who has a job that she loves, a career that she loves, a man that she loves, what is the thing that might take her out of the main storytelling? And my answer to that is: her kids. Something happens with her kids that changes the course of her plans for her life. And as a mother, I resonate with that.

Meredith’s Exit Presents A Challenge For Grey’s Anatomy Season 19

While Vernoff doesn’t offer specifics on what happens to Meredith’s kids, it stands to reason it will have to be something pretty big, such as an injury or illness, to ensure that her absence makes sense. With Meredith already away from Grey Sloan Memorial for part of last season due to her work in Minnesota, it’s understandable Grey’s Anatomy is hesitant to use her career to explain her reduced presence in season 19. Still, the story Vernoff teases comes with its own set of challenges.

For one, if it involves Meredith’s kids struggling in some way, realistically, her friends and family would play a major role in supporting her through that. It seems unlikely they would let Meredith go off somewhere or even stay at home dealing with that type of challenge herself, which could make the storyline hard for viewers to buy. Characters could mention their offscreen interactions with Meredith, but that would make her absence more noticeable.

Still, it’s worth remembering that Meredith has left Seattle with her kids to deal with a challenge on her own before; just after Derek’s death, she was gone for months without telling anyone her location. However, Meredith has come a long way since then and has grown more comfortable relying on other people. Her exit has a high degree of difficulty for this reason, but it’s clear Vernoff has a specific plan in mind, which hopefully will make more sense once viewers see it for themselves.

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.

Source: Variety

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