The end of Grey's Anatomy could be nigh.
After months of rumors that the series is gearing up for its big conclusion, its showrunner has announced that the Grey's Anatomy Season 17 finale is being approached as a potential series-ender.
"I'm planning a season and a finale that could function as either a season finale or a series finale," Krista Vernoff told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview ahead of its midseason return.
"I'm planning for both contingencies and it's hard and it's not ideal. It's not where I wish we were."
Ellen Pompeo's contract is up this season, and the star has been vocal about this potentially being the last hurrah for the medical drama.
"I can't say. Can't say," Pompeo said recently on CBS Sunday Morning.
"We honestly have not decided. We're really trying to figure it out right now," before adding that she wants to do justice to the series with a big ending.
"It's, what story do we tell? To end a show this iconic, you know, how do we do it?" she added.
"I just want to make sure we do this character and this show and the fans – I want to make sure we do it right."
Before that, the actress and producer spoke to Variety about potentially saying goodbye.
"We don't know when the show is really ending yet. But the truth is, this year could be it. I'm constantly fighting for the show as a whole to be as good as it can be," she previously told Variety.
"As a producer, I feel like I have permission to be able to do that. I mean, this is the last year of my contract right now. I don’t know that this is the last year, but it could very well could be."
THR notes that negotiations are still very much underway, so it's possible that a deal could be struck to renew the series, but, for now, Vernoff is looking at this finale as a potential conclusion.
Vernoff has asked ABC to let her know in advance whether this will be the endgame.
"I've told them that I have to know before I'm making the finale what we're making," she said.
"Because there are a couple of character threads that will change. I've got plans for both contingencies. Either there will be closure, or I will build something in that allows me to have a bit of a cliffhanger and a thread for next season."
It's hard to imagine ABC wanting to part with Grey's Anatomy. It remains one of the biggest shows on TV, but it's an expensive show to produce.
Any show on the air as long as Grey's Anatomy comes with a hefty price tag, and that's not going to change any time soon.
Producers have been vocal about ending the show when Pompeo decides against returning, so it seems like unless Pompeo returns, and a way to make the series feasible, it could be coming to an end sooner rather than later.
If you watch Grey's Anatomy online, you know the series has brought big names back in recent months, including Patrick Dempsey and T.R. Knight, so this might work out as a conclusive ending.
What are your thoughts on the announcement?
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Be sure to tune into the midseason premiere on Thursday at 9/8c.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.