Why is Meredith Grey leaving Grey's Anatomy after 18 years?

This is why Ellen Pompeo, the actress behind Meredith Grey in Grey's Anatomy, has decided to leave the show after 18 years

Why is Meredith Grey leaving Grey's Anatomy after 18 years?
(Image credit: Mike Rosenthal / Contributor / Getty Images)

Ellen Pompeo's farewell episode of Grey's Anatomy took place on February 23, and fans were devastated to mark the end of an eraoBuy why is Meredith Grey leaving Grey's Anatomy after 18 years?

After 19 seasons and 18 years on the show, the star of Grey's Anatomy, Ellen Pompeo, exited the program last night in an episode from, I’ll Follow the Sun. As the show ended with Meredith moving her family to Boston, she said in the narration, "The end of my story is not any kind of ever-after, because I’m still alive, I’m still here, and the sun still rises on my life."

But why did Meredith leave Seattle and why did the actress, Ellen Pompeo, leave the show? Here's what you need to know...

Grey's Anatomy

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Why is Meredith Grey leaving Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital?

The Grey's Anatomy fall finale confirmed Ellen Pompeo's exit in November 2022. It was revealed that would be writing Meredith out by having her move to Boston after accepting a position with the Catherine Fox Foundation to research Alzheimer's disease, the disease that afflicted her mother and led to her death at the very beginning of the series.

In the first episode of the second part of Grey's Anatomy Season 19, Meredith Grey finally bid farewell to the show. 

The episode showed Meredith's final surgery on a patient named Tessa who she was unable to save. It also showed her struggling to work out where she stood with her love interest Nick. After the unsuccessful surgery she tells Nick, "I'm a grown woman with a big life, a big career and three kids, and this move is what my daughter needs," she then added. "I want you in my life if you want to be in my life. But if I have to choose, I'm going to pick me. I pick my kids and I pick what's best for us. I'm not going to beg you to love me."

Meredith is then toasted by the staff at Grey Sloan and makes a promise to help her former patient (Tessa) by delivering the final book manuscript to Boston as she is planning to travel there herself that day anyway. 

In the closing moments of the show, Nick tries to catch Meredith at the party at the hospital but misses her and heads to the airport. He then calls her after he gets stuck in traffic and admits that he loves her. Meredith is dumbfounded so instead of replying she lies and says, "I can't quite hear you," she then says, "We're about to take off, so I'll call you when we get settled."

The episode ends with Meredith focusing on her future in Boston and not looking back at her past.

Grey's Anatomy

(Image credit: ABC)

Why is Ellen Pompeo leaving Grey's Anatomy?

Ellen Pompeo has spoken about why she has made the decision to leave the show on a number of occasions. While on The Drew Barrymore Show in December, Ellen said that it all boiled down to the longevity of the show.

"I feel super happy, but listen, the show has been incredible to me and I’ve loved a lot of the experience," Ellen told Drew "Listen, it’s just, I gotta mix it up a little bit."

"I’m 53. My brain is like scrambled eggs," the actress joked. "I gotta do something new or I’m literally gonna turn into like, you can’t do the New York Times crossword puzzle every single day. I mean, 19 years, that’s longer than people keep their kids in their house, like people keep their kids in their house until they’re 18 and then they send them off to college. So this is like me like going away to college."'

Grey's Anatomy began in 2005 and Ellen has appeared in 400 out of the 407 episodes in 19 seasons so far. So perhaps it is completely understandable that the star would be ready for a bit of a change after nearly two decades in the same role! 

Laura Harman

Laura is the Entertainment Editor for woman&home who primarily covers television, film, and celebrity news. Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.