'Grey's Anatomy' Star James Pickens Jr. Says Season 16 Bringing 'New Set of Issues' After Firing Twist

Change is coming to Grey's Anatomy when it returns for its record-breaking 16th season. The ABC medical drama is only a few episodes away from reaching the 350-episode mark and with it fans say goodbye to the "Season of Love" and hello to a lot of drama. The Season 15 finale left fans with many cliffhangers, including Jackson's (Jesse Williams) disappearance into the fog, Meredith possibly going to prison and three fan-favorite characters asked to leave Grey Sloan Memorial.

One of the fired docs, Richard (James Pickens Jr.) opened up to press about the cliffhanger-heavy finale and where the show is headed after Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) fired Richard, Alex (Justin Chambers) and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo).

Fans won't have to worry about a time jump in the premiere episode, as Pickens Jr. told Entertainment Tonight the premiere picks up right in the middle of the action.

"You know that there's something on the other side of it that's going to be really exciting and is going to take the audience and they'll have to go on that ride, so that's the fun part," Pickens Jr. said of the premiere, promising the episode will have fans wondering what will happen next. "Obviously, my character and [Meredith] and Alex, we've been fired now, so that's presenting a whole new set of issues, especially for Dr. Webber. It's going to test some of his stuff."

Seeing Bailey fire her longtime mentor for his involvement in a possible insurance fraud scandal at the hands of Meredith was a shocking moment for fans, though Pickens Jr. said there was no one else who could have done it.

"It made perfect sense," he told the outlet. "If someone was going to fire me, [it had to be] Bailey, who I mentored. But it sets up for some really fascinating and really funny and timely storytelling moving forward. I'm excited to see where it takes us all."

Without three of the core Grey's characters in Grey Sloan at the start of the season, Pickens Jr. said the hospital will have an "interesting" new perspective.

"It's going to be interesting," Pickens Jr. teased. "It's going to test everybody, the folks who remain at Grey Sloan and our characters who now have to look into new territory and figure out what's the next step of my career and my life. That's going to be what the audience is really going to take a hold of."


Will the firing take Richard closer to retirement? "We don't know yet," he added, "but he's kind of the glue that kind of holds everything together. This will be interesting for him. It'll test his relationships, it'll test his sobriety to some extent."

The drought is almost over! Grey's Anatomy will return for Season 16 Thursday, Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.