'Grey's Anatomy' Goodbye to Ellen Pompeo Will Be 'Nostalgic,' According to Co-Star

Grey's Anatomy will say goodbye to Meredith Grey and Ellen Pompeo, at least for the time being, in this week's Season 19 return episode. Chandra Wilson, who has also starred in Grey's Anatomy since the show began in 2005, teased a nostalgia-filled hour for the show's longtime fans. The episode, titled "I'll Follow The Sun," airs on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC, following Station 19.

"When are we not ever nostalgic, right? When do we not ever throw you back to the beginning and bring you into the present?" Wilson told Entertainment Tonight before the episode airs. "So I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of that." She added that producers even kept the final cut from the cast, so they won't even know how it ends until everyone sees it.

"I'll Follow The Sun" marks Pompeo's final episode as a series regular. She will still be involved as the series narrator and executive producer. Although Meredith is moving to Boston, she is still expected to make at least one more appearance in the Season 19 finale. Wilson believes Meredith's move to the East Coast is an organic development, not just a sudden decision.

"Even Meredith says, 'Look, I'll be back next week or next month.' But for the character, it's such an interesting journey, when you have to say, 'Wait a minute, I have to take care of my family and I have to do what my family needs and that takes me someplace else and then I can figure out another way to fulfill my profession,'" Wilson told ET. "That's great because don't we all face that? Dr. Bailey even faces that, so I love that we can continue to do those kinds of stories with our characters."

Pompeo only appears in eight episodes of Season 19. She is one of only three remaining actors from the show's original cast, alongside Wilson and James Pickens Jr., who plays Dr. Richard Webber. Although she has already booked another project, she told ET earlier this month that she is not completely done with the ABC medical drama.

"For the record, it's not really my final," Pompeo said at the Michael Kors Fall/Winter 2023 Fashion Show. "It's a little bit of a trick they're playing on people... It is my final episode for a while."

Pempeo's exit is not the only change coming to Grey's Anatomy. Season 19 marks the final year overseen by Krista Vernoff, who also serves as Station 19's showrunner. In January, Vernoff announced plans to leave both shows. She has overseen the last six seasons of Grey's and the last four of Station 19. Longtime Grey's writer Meg Marinis is reportedly in the running to take over for Vernoff.

Pompeo is now working on a Hulu limited series based on the story of Ukrainian-born Natalia Grace. Her adoptive parents allegedly abandoned Grace, who has a rare form of dwarfism. Her adoptive parents claimed Grace was actually a mentally disturbed adult woman. Pompeo will serve as an executive producer and plays Grace's adoptive mother.

New episodes of Grey's Anatomy air Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. Station 19 begins at 8 p.m. ET. Both shows are available to stream on Hulu.