As the eighth season of Grey’s Anatomy begins to draw to a close and a ninth season is on the horizon, we are getting closer and closer to learning the fate of many of the show’s actors (and their characters alike), as their contracts remain up for renewal, and for the first time, Grey’s Anatomy‘s future remains uncertain.
What is certain is that Grey’s Anatomy will be back for a ninth season beginning in the fall of 2012. Although ABC has yet to officially renew the show, it’s getting close to doing just that, and both ABC executives and series creator Shonda Rhimes alike have already stated that they have no desire to see the series end just yet. But the cast that returns with the show is what remains uncertain. So as we draw closer and closer to finding out just who will make up season nine’s cast, it’s time to thrown my hat into the ring with my predictions of what will happen, and then what I think ABC should do from there.
First and foremost is Ellen Pompeo, who plays the titular Grey in Grey’s Anatomy. While at one point I had become convinced (and she probably was as well) that once her contract was up, she would leave the show never to return, I’ve come to take a second look at that idea, as this season has seen Pompeo do more press for the show than I’ve seen her do in years. On top of that, she herself has expressed hope that she will be able to continue with the show and she even seems to be happy with her storylines, now that Meredith and Derek are together and have been for four years.
But with Meredith comes Derek, and Patrick Dempsey’s contract remains up for renewal as well. I also thought that Dempsey would flee the moment his contract ended, but I’ve come to feel differently within the past few months. Dempsey hasn’t been afraid to voice his concern or disdain for particular storylines in the past and seemed to grow quite weary of the the “Will-they-or-won’t-they?” dynamic between Meredith and Derek in the earlier seasons of the show. Lately, however, his opinion of the series seems to have changed to something more favorable, which has me thinking he will try to return if an appropriate agreement can be reached. A popular opinion floating around the internet is that Dempsey will return billed as a series regular cast member, but only appear in a limited number of episodes throughout the season (for example, he would only appear in 13 out of 22 episodes but would still get a credit even in the ones in which he did not appear). I’m inclined to believe that this could be the outcome of his contract talks, and I can’t say it would upset me too much. Derek’s never been my favorite character, but I shudder to think what would happen should Pompeo stay and Dempsey leave, not to mention that as of late, Derek’s stories have been more in the background and I think there could be more use of picking and choosing which episodes to have him around.
Sandra Oh’s contract is also up, and I’m divided as to which way she’s going to go. Ultimately, I hope she (and her character, Cristina Yang) returns for the ninth season, even if it is in a reduced capacity like Patrick Dempsey as well. Oh seems to be fond of where the show is at currently creatively, and really seems to enjoy working not only with on-screen husband Kevin McKidd, but with their current storyline as well, as evidenced by the Shondaland event held on April 2. I think she has a desire to explore new projects, but that’s no reason to think that Shonda wouldn’t accomodate that, as she has done the same for several of her actors in the past.
To me, however, the biggest question mark is Justin Chambers. His character Alex is a fan-favorite and the show certainly wouldn’t be the same without him, but Chambers has been the quietest of all the original cast members thus far regarding his feelings towards the show and returning to it in the future. However, he did participate in the live musical benefit, “Songs Beneath the Song,” which I think provides hope towards him staying. With Chambers, it really could honestly go either way, and I have a hard time deciding which one I think will happen. Today I find myself leaning more towards him leaving, but tomorrow I could find myself feeling like he is going to stay instead.
I’m uncertain as to which of the other actors’ contracts are up – perhaps every single one of them is – but it’s really the only four major players above that I feel we really need to worry about. I’d be shocked to see any of the other cast members depart, and I honestly don’t believe that they will.
But when it comes to Grey’s Anatomy‘s future, I’d love to see it play out this way: With the show a shoe-in for a ninth season renewal, ABC should do whatever they can to get the entire cast back, even if some of them are back for a reduced number of episodes. (For what it’s worth, I think they will be able to. I’m holding my breath on that one.) When that’s done and official, announce the ninth season and it’s cast, and also announce that it is the series’ final season, so that everyone involved goes in to the year knowing that the end is coming and it can be planned and accommodated for. Get back any former cast members that they can, and have a bittersweet and heartbreaking two-hour series finale event in May 2013.
Following this, the proper end of Grey’s Anatomy, ABC doesn’t have to end the franchise, as that is something they have made very clear that they don’t want to do. Instead, create a new spin-off of the show set in the same universe and with the same characters, which would be any of the original Grey’s Anatomy cast that are willing to return. Let one of the veteran Grey’s writers (Stacy McKee, perhaps?) run the show on a day-to-day basis as Shonda oversees the show on the whole. The series, which I’m naming Shades of Grey in my head, could even still be set at Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital. The idea here is that the universe and franchise would continue on – something ABC wants to see happen – but would still allow for Grey’s Anatomy to end properly, and without infringing upon the integrity of the series by not having the original cast around.
Only time will tell if any of my predictions, hope, and thoughts come to reality. It’s what I’m hoping for. It isn’t that I necessarily want Grey’s Anatomy to end already, but I do feel like it is becoming clear that the time has come for people to move on, and I’d like for that to be able to happen and still give fans the proper closure we deserve and expect. What are you hoping to see when it comes to the future of Grey’s Anatomy?