'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Station 19' Ratings Hit Lows Despite Final Season Rumors

Bad news for fans of Grey's Anatomy and Station 19: the ABC dramas have hit a ratings snag. Season 17, episode 8 of Grey's Anatomy aired on March 18, and showed a continued downward trend in viewership. Despite the (sort of) return of Derek Shepherd, the episode only mustered up 4.9 million viewers and a 0.9 rating, while Station 19 had 4.9 million viewers and a 0.7 rating.

With the ongoing pandemic, perhaps fans are looking for lighter, less depressing television to binge on. There are only so many character deaths that people can take. However, it could be an indication that interest in the long-running medical drama is waning, which makes the possibility of the season seventeen finale being the series finale feel all the more realistic.

Fans are convinced that season seventeen will be the final season of Grey's, and showrunner Krista Vernhoff appears to be bracing for the end with renewal still in limbo. "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. "I'm planning for both contingencies and it's hard and it's not ideal. It's not where I wish we were."

"I've told them [ABC executives] that I have to know before I'm making the finale what we're making," Vernhoff explained. "Because there are a couple of character threads that will change. I've got plans for both contingencies. Either there will be closure or I will build something in that allows me to have a bit of a cliffhanger and a thread for next season."

Star Ellen Pompeo told CBS Sunday Morning that she and fellow producers are "still trying to figure it out" and that everyone involved is "really trying to figure it out right now." Ultimately, Pompeo wants to ensure that Grey's Anatomy is still telling compelling stories in order to continue. "It's, 'What story do we tell?'" she said. "To end a show this iconic… how do we do it? I just wanna make sure we do this character and this show and the fans… I wanna make sure we do it right."

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The actress shared a similar sentiment while on Dax Shepherd's Armchair Expert podcast, saying that she thought it was better "to dip out sooner rather than later, at this point, having done what we've done, to leave when the show is still on top, is definitely a goal. I'm not trying to stay on the show forever… The truth is, if I get too aggravated and I'm no longer grateful there, I should not be there."