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‘Grey’s Anatomy’ season 18: Everything we know about the latest season of ABC’s medical drama

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Want to feel old? For how long Grey’s Anatomy has been on TV there are kids entering their final year of high school who have not lived in a world where the ABC medical drama wasn’t around. The latest season will mark number 18 for the show. 

Grey’s Anatomy, which was created by TV super producer Shonda Rhimes, is adding to its lead as U.S. broadcast’s longest-running primetime medical drama, having already bested ER’s previous record of 15 seasons. But, will season 18 mark the final season? 

There’s been no official designation that season 18 will be the end of Grey’s Anatomy (you’d think they’d want to play that up), but there have been plenty of breadcrumbs that the show is coming toward the finish line.

However, that’s all speculation at the moment. Here are the facts on everything you need to know for Grey’s Anatomy season 18.

When will ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ season 18 premiere? 

Grey’s Anatomy is set to return on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 9 p.m. ET. Grey’s Anatomy has been airing on Thursday’s since the show’s third season (it aired on Sundays for its first two), though it’s time has shifted around a few times, mostly between the 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. time slot.

This year, Grey’s Anatomy will be preceded in the lineup by its companion show, Station 19. There have already been a couple of crossover episodes with the two series, but there is no word as of yet whether there viewers can expect another one this year.

Who’s back as part of the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ cast?

As season 17 was winding down, so was series lead Ellen Pompeo’s contract. It was unsure whether or not she would sign up for another season as Meredith Grey, so showrunner Krista Vernoff said in interviews that she had two versions of the season 17 finale ready to go depending on if Pompeo would not return and it needed to serve as a series finale.

Pompeo did come to an agreement to return, so that crisis was averted and she is back for Grey’s Anatomy season 18. However, her contract is only for one year, so it’s to be determined if that whole song and dance will happen once again.

Other original cast members that signed new contracts to return include Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. Another longtime cast member, Jesse Williams, opted to not return for season 18 after 12 seasons on the show.

Kevin McKidd, Camilla Luddington and Kim Raver are also confirmed to return for the new season.

We're also starting to get our first news of new cast members joining Grey's Anatomy. Deadline has reported that Peter Gallagher (The O.C., Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist) will join the show in a recurring role as Dr. Alan Hamilton. His character has a connection with Kate Burton's Ellis Grey, Meredith's late mother; Burton is also expected to appear in multiple episodes in season 18.

Some former cast members are set to return to the series for a multi-episode arc, as Deadline separately reported that Kate Walsh has signed on for season 18 to once again play the character of Addison Forbes Montgomery, while Abigail Spencer will return as her character Megan Hunt.

What’s going to happen in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ season 18?

Season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy saw the show deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and as it still impacts people’s daily lives expect that it will also be dealt with in the upcoming season, though hopefully less frequently as the real-life situation hopefully gets better.

As far as the show-centric storyline (SPOILERS), season 17 saw Meredith recover from her illness, which gave the show the opportunity to reunite her with previous cast members (Patrick Dempsey, T.R. Knight, Eric Dane, Chyler Leigh and Sarah Drew) in dream-like sequences; in addition, she has a possibly budding romance with Cormac.

Elsewhere, the potential love triangle between Amelia, Link and Jo and the expected new batch of residents offer some new storylines for fans to eat up.

Catch up with all the potential storylines for Grey’s Anatomy online.

What to watch will update this page as more information about Grey’s Anatomy season 18 comes out. 

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.