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Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey © Getty

Ellen Pompeo to take on bigger role in Grey's Anatomy one year after exit

The actress will be back as Meredith Grey

Megan Bull
TV Writer
July 10, 2024
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Ellen Pompeo will feature more heavily in season 21 of Grey's Anatomy. According to Variety, the actress – who took a step back from her role as Meredith Grey last year – will appear in at least seven of the 18 upcoming episodes. 

As fans will remember, Ellen was originally written out of season 19, with Meredith heading to Boston with her family. During the 20th instalment, the TV star continued to narrate Grey's Anatomy and reprised her role in several episodes, but her presence could be felt on a much larger scale in series 21. 

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey in season 16© Getty
Ellen Pompeo will appear in at least seven episodes of series 21

For some, the move may come as a surprise, but showrunner Meg Marinis has always maintained that Ellen could return as and when she likes. 

"She's always a huge part of the show; we have an open door policy with her. When she is able to be here, we welcome her with open arms," Meg told Deadline in March. "She's constantly in my head, her voice."

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey© Getty
Ellen took a step back from Grey's Anatomy in 2019 but has continued to narrate the series and appear in the occasional episode

It was in November 2022 that Ellen first announced her decision to step back from Grey's. "I feel super happy, but listen, the show has been incredible to me and I've loved a lot of the experience. It's just I gotta mix it up a little bit," Ellen later remarked of her departure.

"I'm fifty-three, my brain is like scrambled eggs. I gotta do something new or I'm literally gonna turn into like, you can't do the New York Times crossword puzzle every single day. I mean, 19 years, that's more than people keep their kids in their house, like people keep their kids in their house until they're 18 and then they send them off to college. So this is like me going away to college." 

Ellen's presence may be increased in Series 21, but Grey's Anatomy will also wave goodbye to some fan favorites too. Amid ongoing cast changes, it was recently announced that Jake Borelli – aka Levi Schmitt – will reportedly wrap up his storylines in the next instalment. According to Deadline, his exit could be the result of budget cuts. 

Jake Borelli as Levi Schmitt© Getty
Jake Borelli is reportedly leaving the show in series 21

Meanwhile, Midori Francis, who portrayed surgical intern Mika Yasuda is expected to follow suit, with her character departing in the next few episodes. 

On the flip side, Jason George – known and loved for playing Dr. Ben Warren – has been promoted to a series regular in Grey's following the cancellation of Station 19, so fans can expect more scenes between Ben and his wife, Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson). 

Jason George and James Pickens Jr in Grey's Anatomy season 16© Getty
Jason George will return as a series regular

Slated for release in the Fall, a premiere date is yet to be revealed but watch this space – we'll keep you posted as soon as we know. 

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