“I am eternally grateful and humbled by the love and support you have all shown me, Meredith GREY and the show for 19 seasons!” the actor wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday. “Through it all….none of it …would have been possible without the best fans in the world. You all are RIDERS and you all have made the ride so fun and ICONIC!!”
“I love you madly and appreciate you right back,” Pompeo said, before extending a promise to come back to the Shonda Rhimes series. “This isn’t your first time on the rollercoaster… you know the show must go on and I’ll definitely be back to visit.”
While Pompeo’s exit will certainly be felt, her decision to leave isn’t a surprise. It was previously revealed that she would appear in only eight episodes of the series’ 19th season.
The star and executive producer has been calling for the show’s demise for some time.
“I’ve been trying to focus on convincing everybody that it should end,” Pompeo said in an interview with Insider last year.
“I feel like I’m the super naive one who keeps saying, ‘But what’s the story going to be, what story are we going to tell?’” she added. “And everyone’s like, ‘Who cares, Ellen? It makes a gazillion dollars.’”