Grey's Anatomy finale devastates fans as major characters quit

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey in surgery on Grey's Anatomy
Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey in surgery on Grey's Anatomy (Image credit: ABC/Liliane Lathan)

It turns out that while we were all focusing on the future of Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) at the hospital that raised her, we should have been paying closer attention to the other characters in the series. Grey’s Anatomy season 18 ends with a number of doctors we’ve come to love fleeing the hospital in search of relaxation, peace and in some cases, freedom.

So first things first, Meredith is staying at Grey Sloan Memorial after all. Having decided to perform a risky procedure against Richard Webber's (James Pickens Jr.) wishes and the patient subsequently dying, her actions leave a bad taste in the mouth of a member of the Medical Accreditation Council. Plus, her decision was just one more disaster that Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) couldn’t bear to deal with at that moment. What happens next? 

Well, in part due to her "unnecessary" approach to surgery, the residency program at the hospital is shut down and Miranda turns in her resignation as she gives Meredith the keys to the chief of surgery office. (Right on cue,  moments later "Chasing Cars" plays in the background; the song has become synonymous with death and goodbye on Grey's.)

Anyway, back to Miranda. She told Meredith very clearly that she quits. However, did that mean she no longer wants to be chief? Or she no longer wants to be a doctor at Grey Sloan at all? If she did quit the hospital as a whole, is this a  permanent decision or a temporary spur-of-the-moment reaction to all the current drama? After all, Meredith seemingly told Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) she would serve as "interim chief of surgery" until Miranda came back.  

We aren’t sure about the former chief’s future on the series, but Deadline quoted show creator Shonda Rhimes saying in reference to season 19, "I couldn’t be more excited that we get to keep telling the stories of Meredith, Bailey, Richard and all of the other doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial for another season." Sounds like Miranda could be back, but we shall see in what capacity. 

Richard was another one that figuratively went off into the sunset. With the much-welcomed news that the cancer treatment on his wife was working, he and Catherine (Debbie Allen) decided to go on a sabbatical of sorts. The two certainly deserve to celebrate this health win and with the residency program suspended, it seems like the perfect time. 

However, the concern going forward for Richard’s tenure at the hospital is whether he’d be willing to work for Meredith should he return. The two weren’t exactly hugging it out in the finale. In fact, he accused her of purposefully destroying the residency program and as an insult, likened her to Ellis. We aren’t sure of his status at Grey Sloan going forward, but again referring to the Deadline article, he’s teased to be around next season. But let’s not pretend Shondaland doesn’t love blindsiding viewers with surprising twists. 

Kim Raver and Kevin McKidd as Teddy Altman and Own Hunt on Grey's Anatomy

Kim Raver and Kevin McKidd on Grey's Anatomy (Image credit: ABC/Liliane Lathan)

If we were betting people, we’d say the characters most likely to be offscreen come the fall are Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) and Teddy Altman (Kim Raver). The two were forced into turning in their resignations and are literally on the run after Owen’s theft of hospital drugs and role in physician-assisted deaths came to light. 

Now contractually speaking, McKidd and Raver signed multi-year deals in 2020 to stay on at Grey’s Anatomy, according once more to Deadline. Even with that being the case, it’s hard to imagine how their characters return to their jobs considering the crimes they committed and the fact the hospital is in such a fragile state. We will just have to watch and see what happens. 

Allow us to take this last opportunity to say "we told you so." While all of our predictions for the finale did not prove to be correct, we were certainly right about Meredith and her star power being the possible key to saving the hospital and her ascension to the chief of surgery position. We also want to humbly brag that we knew Bailey was going to seek some peace in her life and be fine no longer holding onto that title. Furthermore, we had a hunch the show’s writers couldn’t be so cruel as to kill off another great love of Richard’s life. 

Grey’s Anatomy fans react to major characters’ exits   

Between all the flashbacks and the unexpected departures, we weren’t the only ones in our feelings last night. Read what fans are saying about the Grey’s Anatomy season finale on Twitter. 

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You can rewatch the Grey’s Anatomy season finale over on Hulu. Also, past seasons of the series are available to stream on Netflix.  

Terrell Smith

Terrell Smith has a diverse writing background having penned material for a wide array of clients including the federal government and Bravo television personalities.  When he’s not writing as Terrell, he’s writing under his pseudonym Tavion Scott, creating scripts for his audio drama podcasts. Terrell is a huge fan of great storytelling when it comes to television and film. Some of his favorite shows include The CrownWandaVision, Abbot Elementary and Godfather of HarlemAnd a fun fact is he's completely dialed into the TLC 90 Day Fiancé universe.