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She's not *completely* gone
[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Season 19 of Grey's Anatomy. Read at your own risk!]
It's time to say goodbye to Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) on Grey's Anatomy, at least for now. The show itself is officially on hiatus until late February, but the promo for the winter premiere that aired at the end of Thursday's episode confirmed that Meredith is in fact moving to Boston, and thus won't be seen around the halls of Seattle's Grey Sloan for the foreseeable future.
As previously reported, Pompeo is appearing in a reduced capacity on Grey's Anatomy Season 19. She remains an executive producer on the series and will provide the bookending voiceovers for every episode, but Meredith as a character is moving on. Once Zola (Aniela Gumbs) began having anxiety attacks due to being unstimulated at school, Meredith began looking into ways to help her child. The answer was in Boston at a special magnet school that would more efficiently work with Zola's higher intelligence. Meredith, meanwhile, will take up work at the Catherine Fox Foundation headquarters and begin working on a cure for Alzheimer's Disease.
Grey's Anatomy has evolved past losing a full-time lead before. The show went a season and a half without Patrick Dempsey performing series regular duties as Derek Shepherd before the character was ultimately killed off in Season 11. However, the show has never gone without its titular lead, so this presents a new frontier for the hospital drama heading towards a landmark 20th season.
TV Guide has learned that this is definitely not a final farewell for Meredith. Aside from voiceovers, the door remains open for Meredith to return to Grey Sloan to visit the other doctors or whenever needed. Pompeo in the meantime is working on an untitled limited series at Hulu that is expected to premiere in 2023.
Grey's Anatomy will return with more episodes and more drama at the world's most tragedy-prone hospital on Thursday, Feb. 23. Season 19 episodes are now available on Hulu.