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Shonda Rhimes Says She Gave Up On Planning The Eventual Ending Of Grey's Anatomy

"Grey's Anatomy" has been on ABC since 2005 for a grand total of 19 seasons and counting. It peaked in 2006 during Season 2, Episode 16, "It's the End of the World," where ABC Medianet reported that it got over 37 million live views (thanks to a boost from Super Bowl XL). Ratings have been pretty stable since Season 7 with an average of around 10 million viewers per episode (give or take a million), but as with most long-running scripted series, things have been slowly going downhill over the years (via RatingGraph.com). It's still relatively early in Season 19, but fans still don't know whether it will be canceled or renewed for Season 20. 

Show creator Shonda Rhimes has put her blood, sweat, and tears into the romantic, medical melodrama — but she recently let it slip that she's not sure how the series is going to end. It remains to be seen if this is a good or bad thing, but either way, whether you're a longtime loyal fan or a more recent devotee after bingeing it on a streamer, you're probably curious to know what her thought process is.

The ending she originally planned became irrelevant nearly a decade ago

During an interview with People, Shonda Rhimes confessed that "I've had 15 different endings for this show, and the show just keeps going. So anything that I had ever planned is no longer even mildly relevant" and that "I think maybe eight seasons ago I stopped thinking about it." This is a natural consequence of letting a show run for so long that the current cast is almost unrecognizable from the show's 2005 debut. Shuffling new characters in and old characters out naturally breaks up the narrative, making it very difficult to plan ahead.

There are only three characters from the original season still on the show: Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), and Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.). Pompeo is already looking for the exit door, as it was announced before Season 19 even began that she would have a reduced role moving forward. The longer the show goes on, the longer Rhimes risks losing its titular star and potentially having a finale that longtime fans find unsatisfying. However, when Rhimes was asked by People if Pompeo's absence would impact the ending, she replied, "No, we're all good there."

While Rhimes is also focused on other massive projects, like potentially eight more seasons of "Bridgerton," she did confirm to People that she'll be the one to make the final call on when "Grey's Anatomy" will wrap up.