Grey’s Anatomy is now in its eighth season. Eight. That’s a lot for a show. They should be congratulated for making it this far. Did you know that three of ABC’s top-rated shows of the past 8 years all debuted in the same TV season? Those shows were Desperate Housewives, Lost and yes, Grey’s Anatomy. Lost ended at six years, though they did it for creative reasons that only helped the show. Desperate Housewives will be ending in May after eight years, which is probably for the better. After this season, all we’ll be left with is Grey’s Anatomy. And ABC president Paul Lee has said that Grey’s will still be around after Housewives ends.

How come it has lasted this long? Yes, it’s been consistently solid for ABC over the years. For most shows, ratings across the board have declined, especially after the infamous writers strike. Despite it being consistent for ABC, Grey’s is one of those shows that has shown its age in the ratings, as has shows like CSI, its former competitor. How long can ABC keep it on the air, especially with how uncertain everything is with regards to the cast members?

For quite a while now, we’ve known that the current contracts for the two leads, Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) and Patrick Dempsey (Derek Shepherd), are ending at the end of season 8. And both have strongly indicated that they may leave the show once their contract ends. As Pomeo said at one point, “I think I’ve told all the stories I can tell as Meredith Grey.” There’s a part of me that agrees with that statement. I mean, where else can you take her character from here?

Back in May, Dempsey said this: “It’s gonna be my last. I do not know what’s going to happen to the other characters, but for me it’s done.” His rep later back-tracked the comment, saying he was only referring to the fact that his current contract will be ending. No, I think he meant exactly what he said.

What does this mean for the future of the show? Does creator Shonda Rhimes have a plan for how to write out their characters? If you didn’t know already, when Rhimes starts planning out a new season, she always starts out knowing what’s going to happen in the season finale and then fills in the missing pieces to get there.

But this time around, it’s not as simple as that. Rhimes told TVLine last August, “I don’t know what I’m going to do at the end of the season yet. Until we know [who’s coming back], we just don’t know [how the season will conclude]. So we’re taking it in a different way.”

She then explained how it will work. “We’re looking at [season 8] in segments. We’re planning the first half of the season [now] and then I’ll plan the second half of the season when I know more stuff.”

So now we’re caught up on what everyone’s said over the past year or so. Depending on if Pompeo and Dempsey stay or go, what does that mean for the future of Grey’s Anatomy? Come back on Wednesday as I try to answer that question.

Grey’s Anatomy returns Thursday night at 9pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.