'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Station 19' Rocked by Major Exit

Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 will both need a new captain, as executive producer Kirsta Vernoff plans to step down from both shows at the end of the current season. Vernoff has served as the showrunner for the last six seasons of Grey's Anatomy and the last four of Station 19. ABC has not announced who will replace her as the leader of the two Shondaland shows.

"It has been the privilege of a lifetime to be entrusted to run Grey's Anatomy for the past six years and Station 19 for the last four," Vernoff told Deadline Wednesday. "The passion of the dedicated fandoms and the impact that these shows have on hearts and minds cannot be overstated. The amount of talent in these two extraordinary casts and these two brilliant writers' rooms is beyond measure – and these crews work magic week after week."

Vernoff's relationship with the Grey's Anatomy universe goes all the way back to the beginning. She worked on the first seven seasons, rising in the ranks to head writer and executive producer. Vernoff returned to the franchise in 2017, helping revive interest in the main series. In 2019, Vernoff added Station 19 to her workload, helping to strengthen the shows' ties. Grey's Anatomy has remained ABC's top-rated scripted drama in its 19th season, while Station 19 has seen viewership increase during its sixth season.

"Krista Vernoff has poured her heart and soul into Grey's Anatomy and Station 19, and her voice has been pivotal to the success of these beloved series," Craig Erwich, President of ABC Entertainment, Hulu & Disney Branded Television Streaming Originals, added. "It takes a formidable leader to run two shows simultaneously and Krista has done so effortlessly. Her creative force has left an indelible mark and thanks to her, our viewers will continue to be invested in these dynamic and cherished characters for many years to come."

Although Shonda Rhimes created Grey's Anatomy, Vernoff has arguably become the most influential producer in the franchise's recent history. She was credited with plotting the dreams Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) had while she fought COVID-19 during Season 17. The dreams brought back several original characters, including Patrick Dempsey's Derek Shepherd. On Wednesday, Rhimes praised Vernodd's "creativity, vision, and dedicated leadership" that allowed the universe to flourish without her.

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It is unclear who will replace Vernoff. Meg Marinis, who has been working on Grey's Anatomy since the beginning, is in the running to take over the medical drama, sources told Deadline. Zoanne Clack and Peter Paige might share showrunner duties on Station 19. Neither show has been renewed for the 2023-2024 season yet, but it's likely they will be.

Ellen Pompeo is also saying goodbye to the show. Her final Grey's Anatomy episode as a series regular will be the show's mid-season premiere on Feb. 23. Pompeo is expected to return for the Season 19 finale, which will also be Vernoff's final episode as showrunner.