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Shonda Rhimes reacts to Ellen Pompeo’s impending ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ exit

Shonda Rhimes. David Fisher/Shutterstock for PEOPLE

I wish her the best. Gray’s AnatomyCreator Shonda Rhimes about open Elena Pompeo left the medical drama — and shared a heartfelt reaction to the actress’ departure.

“What a wild ride the past 19 seasons have been,” the 52-year-old founder of Shondaland wrote via Instagram on Thursday, Nov. 17. “Nothing would have been possible without the incomparable @ellenpompeo, the one and only Meredith Grey. In true #greysanatomy fashion… this isn’t goodbye, it’s see you soon! Can’t wait to see what Ellen, Meredith and Gray Sloan Memorial awaits.”

Pompeo, 53, announced news of her imminent departure from the ABC series earlier on Thursday. She has played the titular character Meredith Gray since the show premiered in 2005.

“I am eternally grateful and humbled by the love and support you all have shown me, Meredith GRAY and the show over 19 seasons!” the SAG winner shared via Instagram at the time. “Through it all…none of it…would have been possible without the best fans in the world. You are all RIDERS and you all made the ride so fun and ICONIC!!”

In August, news broke that the Catch me if you can star would appear in a limited number of episodes in season 19. However, TV Line reported at the time that Pompeo would continue to work on the drama behind the scenes as an executive producer and narrator.

The following month, the Massachusetts native opened up about her decision to step back. “I will always be a part of that show,” she shared deadline in September. “I am an executive producer. I spent two decades of my career on it [Grey’s Anatomy] – it’s my heart and soul. I’ll never really be gone that long [it’s] in the air.”

Shonda Rhimes Responds to Ellen Pompeo Leaving 'Greys Anatomy' - 'What a Wild Ride' 571 ABC Disney Upfront, New York, USA - May 17, 2022

Elena Pompeo. Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup for FX/Shutterstock

Earlier this month, ABC revealed the date of Pompeo’s final episode teasing that “Meredith is leaving Seattle to start over.” One of the plot points of this season is Meredith’s decision to leave for Boston. The show’s winter premiere, titled “I’ll Follow the Sun,” will air on February 23 next year. “Great last day!” Meredith says in the clip.

Over the years, the Golden Globe nominee has been candid about her desire to leave the medical show and her costars have weighed in.

“She’s worked so hard in this role for so long,” Sarah Drewthat Dr. April Kepner starred, exclusively narrated Us weekly in September. “It makes sense that she would want to take a breather and pursue other things – and still keep her foot in the door. … I wish her well.”

In October, Jaicy Elliot gave U.S insight into Pompeo’s departure and what viewers can expect from the rest of the current season. “Even when she’s not there, she’s the DNA of the show,” said the actress, who plays Taryn Helm. “So she’s so present on the show. And you get to know the interns, and they remind me of the first generation [of interns]. The show [is] very much what you want it to be. To be [a] recoil. It’s really fun.”

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