9:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Grey's Anatomy' Renewed Through Season 17, 'Murder' Also Returning to ABC
File this under no-doubter.
Grey's Anatomy has officially been renewed, nabbing a two-season pickup that takes the Ellen Pompeo starrer through its 17th season at ABC. The Disney-owned network has also picked up fellow Shondaland drama How to Get Away With Murder for a sixth season and Grey's spinoff Station 19 for a third. Grey's boss Krista Vernoff will add showrunning duties on Station 19, as she plans to juggle both Seattle-set Shondaland series. The Grey's renewal arrives after the cast inked new deals to return. Grey's, Murder and Station 19 are the last remaining ABC shows from prolific producer Shonda Rhimes; sophomore legal drama For the People was canceled on Thursday. There is currently no talk about final seasons for any of the three series.
The Grey's renewal comes as little surprise after leading lady Pompeo was already under contract as part of the historic two-year deal she signed last year that crowned her TV's highest-paid leading lady on a primetime drama series. That pact covered seasons 15 and 16. Pompeo has closed a new deal for season 17. There's no word if season 17 will be the show's endgame, though that decision — when and if it happens — will be made between Pompeo (who stars as iconic character Meredith Grey) and Rhimes. The latter, who moved to Netflix in 2017, has said that Grey's will run as long as Pompeo wants to do the show, as the Seattle-set medical drama will not exist without the woman who puts the Grey in Grey's Anatomy. (For her part, ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke expressed hope that Grey's would run for many years to come.)
In its 15th season, Grey's Anatomy remains a force for ABC. The Shondaland drama from ABC Studios made history this season with its 332nd episode, when the series broke ER's record as television's longest-running primetime medical drama. Grey's ranks as ABC's No. 1 series for the 2018-19 broadcast season with an impressive 3.1 rating among the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic. In a sign of its value, Grey's will produce 25 episodes this season — its highest tally in more than a decade. Showrunner Vernoff — who also recently inked a massive overall deal to remain with producers ABC Studios — has been credited with infusing timely issues while paying homage to the show's rich past in the creative. (ABC is also mounting an Emmy campaign for this season's powerful consent episode.) Meanwhile, original stars Justin Chambers (Alex), Chandra Wilson (Bailey) and James Pickens Jr. (Richard) are all expected to return, as Grey's shows no signs of slowing down (and new ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke has her fingers crossed for many more seasons to come).
How to Get Away With Murder, starring Viola Davis, recently concluded its fifth season and has continued to shed viewers. Both seasons four and five suffered double-digit ratings declines. But the drama remains a strong performer in delayed viewing, with more than half of its seven-day 18-49 rating and almost half of its total audience coming after it first airs. Davis also gives the network an awards player, though the actress is in the last year of her contract. A decision about whether Murder will end with season six has not yet been determined. Producer Peter Nowalk, meanwhile, last year opted to renew his overall deal with producers ABC Studios after Murder exec producer Shonda Rhimes departed. He became one of a handful of the prolific producer's disciples to remain at her former home.
In a larger sense, ABC still has to decide on the future of its "TGIT" Thursday night programming block. With For the People already gone and Murder getting a 15-episode order, there's no way ABC can keep its Rhimes-branded block all season long. For the People took over Murder's time slot when the latter wrapped its run. This season, ABC experimented with rookie A Million Little Things in the prime post-Grey's slot as a potential indicator of what could be to come.
Keep track of all the renewals, cancellations and new show orders with THR's scorecards for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW and with all the latest pilot pickups and passes with our handy guide. For complete coverage, bookmark THR.com/upfronts.