Get the defibrillator because “Grey’s Anatomy” fans are in for the shock of their lives.
This week, actor Ellen Pompeo hinted that she may leave ABC’s hugely successful medical drama after next season in order to pursue new career opportunities and spend more time with her family.
Pompeo, who’s played the show’s titular character, Meredith Grey, since “Grey Anatomy” premiered in 2005, has only signed on through the end of season 16 in 2020 and she told Entertainment Weekly that she is “looking for a change.”
“I’m clearly not prepared right now to make any formal announcement about my future on the show. That’s something that Shonda Rhimes and I will do together,” Pompeo said in the interview. “But yes, I’m feeling like we’re coming to the end of the stories that we’ve told and that we can tell.”
The “Grey’s Anatomy” star continued, “I’m really excited to do some new things, it’s about time that I mix it up and I’m really excited about my producing career, and I’m definitely looking for a change.”
Pompeo is the highest paid actress in a primetime drama, having recently negotiated a $20 million per year deal for her role as Meredith Grey on the long-running series. In April, “Grey’s Anatomy” was renewed for a record-breaking 15th season and is set to premiere Thursday, Sept. 27 on ABC.
“I still care very much about the show and I think that it takes a lot of energy,” said Pompeo, who reportedly earns $575,000 per “Grey’s Anatomy” episode. “So at some point, I have to wrap it up.”
Part of that change for the 48-year-old also includes being more present in her family life. Pompeo and her husband, music producer Chris Ivery, welcomed their third child, son Eli Christopher, in 2016. They’re also parents to daughters Sienna May, 3, and Stella Luna, 8.
“My children are getting older so I want to be more available to them now. I can’t be an absentee mom if they’re teenagers, I have to be around to whip their butts,” Pompeo told Entertainment Weekly. “So it’s definitely time for change in my life. I’m really looking forward to it and that’s the beauty of my situation.”
Of course, if Pompeo exits “Grey’s Anatomy,” it’d be heartbreaking for her fans. But who can argue with a mom who wants to be more available to her children as they grow up?