When “Grey’s Anatomy” first premiered in 2005, no one could have predicted what it would become. In the 17 years since the airing of the now iconic pilot episode, the series has become a cultural juggernaut, gathering a whopping 38 Emmy nominations in its 18 — soon to be 19 — seasons on air.
Besides her stature in pop culture, “Grey’s Anatomy” has also used her power as a force for good in the world. This has increased awareness of the RAINN sexual assault hotline, inspired women to pursue medical careers and even saved a mother’s life in 2011.
In short, whatever its imperfections, “Grey’s Anatomy” was a good thing overall. However, all good things must eventually come to an end – and for “Grey’s Anatomy,” that time has come.
There are several reasons why “Grey’s Anatomy” continues to stay on the air. Leading lady Ellen Pompeo, who plays the titular Meredith Grey, is still under contractbut in a reduced capacity for the upcoming season 19. She herself has said many times that she wants the show – or at least her role in it – to end as soon as possible.
If Pompeo leaves the show, “Grey’s Anatomy” would only have two actors from the original 2005 cast: James Pickens Jr., who plays Richard Webber, and Chandra Wilson, who plays Miranda Bailey. Pickens and Wilson have stuck with the show all these years, and their characters are still integral to the stories told. But Pompeo is the star, and there really doesn’t seem to be a viable solution without her.
Casting isn’t the only thing to consider, of course. Grades are also important, and they Paint a very sharp image. They aren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination as the series manages to attract millions of viewers every week. They’re far from their peak, however, and Pompeo’s reduced screen time in the upcoming Season 19 doesn’t bode well for those numbers.
However, more than a shrinking viewership and dwindling number of original cast members, there’s a key reason why “Grey’s Anatomy” needs to end – it just isn’t a good TV show anymore.
“Grey’s Anatomy” has always been a little silly. It was a show that leaned into drama, felt overdone and campy without ever losing its powerful human element. It was a show that, while flawed, seemed balanced. “Grey’s Anatomy” had all the romance of a traditional soap opera, the medical drama required by its setting, and the heart and humor to keep it all tied together.
At the beginning of “Grey’s Anatomy”, there was a balance. Now, however, the balance is gone, and with it the quality that made the show worth watching in the first place.
Part of that imbalance comes from running for 17 straight years. The world has changed drastically since 2005, and while Shonda Rhimes is nothing short of magical in the television realm, it’s hard to keep anything relevant and fresh for almost two decades. The new episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” don’t feel dated per se, but the spark that made the first twelve seasons so enjoyable just isn’t there anymore. Even when the content is new, “Grey’s Anatomy” is still a bit old, which makes it less watchable than it was when it debuted.
Another hurdle that “Grey’s Anatomy” couldn’t overcome was the loss of its star characters. As mentioned earlier, most of the original cast members left the show to pursue other opportunities, and the empty spots they left on the show’s roster were filled soon after. However, the main issue here is that the characters who left were also the best characters on the show. And for the most part, their replacements haven’t lived up to their predecessors.
There was Cristina Yang, Meredith Grey’s best friend and fellow surgical resident who almost immediately became one of the most beloved characters in the show’s history. At the end of Season 10, the character was gone for good, and no one who’s come since has filled the void left by Sandra Oh. There was Derek Shepherd, Meredith’s husband, who still dwells on the edges of every romantic interaction she has despite being killed off in Season 11. There were more like-minded characters: Mark Sloan and Lexie Gray, Arizona Robbins and Callie Torres, April Kepner and Jackson Avery, Alex Karev and George O’Malley. All sat at the very heart of “Grey’s Anatomy,” and the show couldn’t reach its previous heights without them.
Above all, “Grey’s Anatomy” must end because the plots themselves are no longer interesting. After a nearly two-decade run, the showrunners are, quite frankly, out of ideas. At many points over the past five seasons, they’ve recycled events from past episodes, in a way so obvious it seems like they’re not even trying to be original anymore.
This is reasonable, even acceptable. After all, “Grey’s Anatomy” has been around for so long that a repeat is not only expected, but necessary. However, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, “Grey’s Anatomy” is a program that leans into drama, the quality that made previous seasons so interesting. Now, this drama is working against the longevity of the series. The showrunners have already used so many disasters that there are few left to exploit, forcing them to reuse old plot points – but these are plot points that are only successfully used once. at best, so their recurrence makes it hard to take the show seriously.
“Grey’s Anatomy” was and always will be a work of great significance. His impact on pop culture and society is immense and forever changed the world of television. However, it’s no longer the groundbreaking series it once was; instead, it’s a pale imitation of his former self. Once a show that seemed silly but still grounded, “Grey’s Anatomy” has become what can only be described as pure ridiculousness. And if he wants to preserve his legacy, he must close now, before it’s ruined.