Ellen Pompeo officially made her exit from the 19-season-long ABC medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy, during Thursday’s mid-season finale episode. Although, she’s not totally done as the iconic Meredith Grey.
Pompeo has already confessed that she will return for the season finale in May, as well as her voice overs being incorporated into the remaining episodes of season 19.
Both her character and her real-life self are opening new chapters in their lives. Meredith is moving to Boston to conduct more research on finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, while Ellen will be pursuing other projects, including a Hulu miniseries.
Upon her departure from the show, many of her current and former co-stars and colleagues paid tribute to her dedication to the ABC series which she was a part of for nearly 20 years.
Shonda Rhimes, one of the writers for the show, posted her tribute on Instagram on Thursday.
“What a journey these 19 seasons have been!” she captioned a photo of Ellen as Meredith in Thursday’s episode. “Wouldn’t trade them (or you) for the world. Beyond excited for your next chapter. See you later, Dr. Grey.”
Kate Walsh took to Instagram, too, posting various photos of herself and her co-star, both on set and off, writing, “My buddy, my gal pal, my ‘sister wife’ 😂…To know u is to love u @EllenPompeo, and reuniting for ur last season on @GreysABC has truly been the best fever dream. Happy trails my dear friend!”
In addition to wanting to expand her acting and producing career, Ellen also wants to take this time off the show to spend time with her family.
Pompeo first revealed the news that she was leaving Grey’s late last year. In December, she appeared on The Drew Barrymore Show to talk about how she feels about leaving and how she’s going to spend her time away from the series.
“I feel super happy, but listen the show has been incredible to me and I’ve loved a lot of the experience,” she told Barrymore. “Listen it’s just I gotta mix it up a little bit. I’m 53, my brain is like scrambled eggs … I gotta do something new or I’m literally gonna turn into, like, [someone who] can’t do the New York Times crossword puzzle every single day.
“I mean 10 years, that’s more than people keep their kids in their house,” she continued, “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.”
She went on to discuss exactly how she’ll be spending her time off.
“I have a lot that I’m doing,” she said. “I have three kids and so I take care of them, and it’s really important for me to be around for them and be more present for them. I’m gonna do a limited series for Hulu in the spring, which is a very cool kind of crazy true story.”
Pompeo shares her three children – Stella, Sienna, and Eli – with her husband of 16 years, music producer Chris Ivery.
They didn’t have a typical celebrity meet-cute. They met in 2003 at a grocery store in LA, two years before Ellen was the star of Grey’s Anatomy.
They stayed friends for about six months before either of them made a move. Ivery told People in 2006, “Then one night she just looked different to me.”
Pompeo added that it was like fate seeing as though they grew up just a few minutes away from each other.
“We were six degrees our whole lives, so I feel like we were sort of meant to be,” she said.
They wed in 2007, and welcomed their first daughter, Stella, in 2009. Much like her fictional mother, Stella seems to have an interest in the medical field.
“[Stella] loves coming to set,” Ellen told Ellen DeGeneres in 2015. “Linda Klein is our medical producer, wonderful woman [and] good friend of mine, and she just wants to go straight to Linda’s office and play with all the medical things,” adding a story about when Linda let Stella use a real bone drill on a fake femur bone.
Their second child, Sienna, was born to them via surrogate in 2014. Like her sister, both Sienna and Stella are Black, and so Ellen has always made it a point to expose them to strong and powerful Black women.
“My daughters are Black so it’s very important to me that they see a lot of images of beautiful, powerful, strong Black women,” she told People in 2016. “Every time there is a Black woman on a magazine cover, whether it is Kerry Washington or whoever it is, I make sure that magazine is in my house and on my table. For me, that’s super important.”
Their third kid, Eli, was born in 2016. As her first and only son, she joked on Instagram when he was born, saying, “Chris Ivery just fell a notch. I’ve got a new guy.”
Ellen and Chris have both done their best to keep their family life private, with the occasional trip to fashion shows and red carpet appearances. Although, she’s not afraid to talk about them, as they mean so much to both her and Chris.