Ellen Pompeo isn’t leaving Grey’s Anatomy alone. Longtime showrunner and executive producer Krista Vernoff will be leaving the ABC hit medical drama and its spinoff series Station 19 after their current seasons end airing. Grey’s Anatomy is currently in its 19th season. Station 19 is in its sixth, though a midseason premiere date has not yet been announced. Neither show have been renewed for their 20th and seventh seasons just yet.
“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 said in a statement to Deadline. “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 rose through the ranks at Grey’s Anatomy after serving as a writer from Season 1 through Season 7. At that point, she was bumped to head writer and executive producer for almost just as long of a tenure. In 2017, she started Season 14 as the Grey’s showrunner and has been at the helm of the long-running Thursday night staple ever since. She’s been the showrunner of Station 19 since 2019 (it debuted the year prior with creator Stacy McKee at the helm), orchestrating multiple successful crossover events afterward. The firefighter-focused drama has increased its viewership steadily in the increasingly tricky linear TV landscape under her watchful eye.
Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes expressed her support for her longtime collaborator (whom she handpicked to replace her) in her own statement. It said: “Krista’s creativity, vision, and dedicated leadership have allowed Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 to continue to flourish. I am incredibly grateful to her for all her hard work. She will always remain part of the Shondaland family.” Rhimes was the showrunner of Grey’s from its inception until 2017 when she passed the mantle onto Vernoff.
“I will be forever grateful to Shonda Rhimes for her trust and to Disney and ABC for their support,” Vernoff said of her mentor.
“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, ABC Entertainment, Hulu & Disney Branded Television Streaming Originals, said in a statement. “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.”
According to Deadline, the shows are actively searching for Vernoff’s replacement out of a pool of candidates who, like Vernoff, have worked for the franchise for years.
Vernoff’s recent notable plots in the franchise include the COVID-19 dream beach sequence, in which Meredith Grey was reunited with dearly departed characters like Patrick Dempsey‘s Derek Shepherd, T.R. Knight‘s George O’Malley, Chyler Leigh‘s Lexie Grey, and Eric Dane‘s Mark Sloan, as well as Station 19‘s George Floyd episode, which featured the firefighters processing their feelings about the traumatic event with a therapist (played by Tracie Thoms). The plot also extended into Grey’s. Vernoff credited the Station 19 cast as essential parts of that episode’s story development.
Fittingly, Vernoff wrote Pompeo’s last episode of Grey’s Anatomy. “I’ll Follow the Sun” premieres February 23 on ABC.
Grey’s Anatomy, Winter Premiere, Thursday, February 23, 9/8c, ABC