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Ellen Pompeo Is Upping Her ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Onscreen Performances for Season 21

Ellen Pompeo Reportedly Upping Her Grey s Anatomy Season 21 Screen Time
Taylor Hill/WireImage

Ellen Pompeo is the heart of Grey’s Anatomy and after a brief step back during season 20, she’s upping her episode count for season 21.

Pompeo, who plays Dr. Meredith Grey, will be featured on screen for at least seven episodes of the upcoming season. Deadline reported on Tuesday, July 9, that Pompeo’s screen time could “grow” as well with the season planning on 18 total episodes.

If Pompeo, 54, makes cameos in the double-digit numbers she will be on par with many of the series’ regulars. While in years past, the Grey’s cast starred in nearly all 20-plus episodes for the season, this year that will change.

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Deadline previously reported that the regulars agreed to an on-camera reduction plan and will skip a few episodes for season 21 to cut costs.

Pompeo began portraying Meredith in 2005 when the series premiered on ABC. After hinting at her exit for years, Pompeo confirmed in September 2022 that she would have a reduced role for season 19.

“I’m going to always be a part of that show,” she told Deadline at the time. “I’m an executive producer. I spent two decades of my career on [Grey’s Anatomy] — it’s my heart and soul. I’ll never truly be gone as long as [it’s] on the air.”

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The actress starred in eight episodes that season before saying farewell to the show as a series regular during a February 2023 episode. “I’m only going to Boston and, you know I’ll probably be here next week,” Meredith told her longtime friends and coworkers, before boarding a plane with her three children.

While Meredith left Grey Sloan Memorial behind, she didn’t lose out on love. In fact, Pompeo returned as the character for the season 19 finale in May 2023 and gave fans an update on Meredith’s relationship with Nick (Scott Speedman).

Ellen Pompeo Reportedly Upping Her Grey s Anatomy Season 21 Screen Time
ABC/Eric McCandless

During the finale, Nick was in Boston along with several other doctors for an awards ceremony. He professed his feelings for Meredith, telling her that his recent scary flight experience “Made me realize how badly I want to live … live a whole life with love and mess and pain and you.” Meredith returned his affection.

Pompeo continued to make cameos on Grey’s during season 20, which had a shortened 10-episode season.

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“She’s always a huge part of the show; we have an open-door policy with her,” showrunner Meg Marinis told Deadline in March, teasing Pompeo’s future. “When she is able to be here, we welcome her with open arms. She’s constantly in my head, her voice.”

In addition to her onscreen appearances, Pompeo has remained the narrator for the series and is an executive producer.

Us Weekly has reached out to ABC for comment.

Grey’s Anatomy season 21 will air on ABC this fall.

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