ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy kicked off its eighteenth season this fall, making it the network’s longest-running show, with talks already underway for a Season 19. And given the show’s diverse cast and crew and shocking storylines, all thanks to the legendary Shonda Rhimes, it’s really a no-brainer why the beloved show is still on the air. But with each new season premiere, fans can’t help but wonder, “When is this show going to end?” In a Nov. 7 interview with Variety, Rhimes got very real about what the show means to her and when it will end. To be exact, Shonda Rhimes said she’s written about eight different versions of a Grey’s series finale. For a show with 18 seasons, I guess eight drafts isn’t too excessive considering how involved we are with the show and its characters.
The show first aired on ABC in 2005 and was Rhimes’ first breakthrough production. Rhimes explained she’s aware of the show’s legacy, but knows that it will eventually come to an end. “I’ve written the end of that series, I want to say, a good eight times,” Rhimes told the magazine. “I was like, ‘And that will be the end!’ Or, ‘That’ll be the final thing that’s ever said or done!’ And all of those things have already happened. So I give up on that, you know what I mean?”
Rhimes’ success with Grey’s led her to produce other ABC hit shows like Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. In 2017, Rhimes gave away the reins to Grey’s, and the series is now under current showrunner Krista Vernoff, who was an original writer for the show. “Creatively, I’ve handed off all the reins entirely,” Rhimes said. “And the best reason I can say for doing that is because if I had any creative involvement, then I would have notes. And if I had notes, people would have to take those notes. And if people had to take those notes, then suddenly it’s not their show anymore.”
Rhimes told the magazine that she fully intends for the creative vision of the show to be led by Vernoff. Still, even without showrunning, Rhimes has the power to say when the show will end. “Am I going to be the person who decides like what the final scene is? I don’t know,” she said. “If you’d ask me this question three years ago, or prior to Krista arriving, I would have said, ‘Yes, I can tell you exactly how it’s going to end.’ But once you hand off the ball for real, it’s just different. So I don’t know yet.”
The iconic producer revealed that she is still inspired by the show, especially since it has encouraged many young women to pursue medical careers. The show’s diversity is what Rhimes believes makes the show so legendary. “Sadly, I think the legacy might simply just be that we made it possible for more people of color to have jobs on camera on television, which makes me embarrassed for television.” Season 1 kicked off with diverse actors like Sandra Oh (Dr. Cristina Yang), Chandra Wilson (Dr. Miranda Bailey), James Pickens Jr. (Dr. Richard Webber), and Isaiah Washington (Dr. Preston Burke).
Rhimes has kept busy since wrapping up projects with ABC, and has produced other fan-favorite shows like Netflix’s Bridgerton and is set to produce and write the historical drama’s prequel series, Queen Charlotte. Given Rhimes’ history in producing knock-out television series (and finales), it’s safe to say that whatever ending Grey’s Anatomy takes on, it will be an epic one.