Is Ellen Pompeo Back For ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 20?

Estimated read time 3 min read

The Big Picture

  • Pompeo’s role on
    Grey’s Anatomy
    is changing, with her appearing in at least 2 episodes of Season 20.
  • Although not physically present, Pompeo’s voice-over narration ensures her presence in every episode.
  • Pompeo’s top billing in the credits honors her role as the heart of the show, reflecting her importance even when absent physically.

With Grey’s Anatomy debuting its landmark Season 20 tonight on ABC, there are many questions on fans’ heads, and one of them is the most important of all: Is Meredith Grey back or not? In 2022, Ellen Pompeo shared a heartfelt post revealing that she was about to leave the series after a 19-season run. She left halfway through Season 19, made a few guest appearances after that, and now in Season 20… she’s back. In an interview to Deadline, new showrunner Meg Marinis revealed exactly what we can expect from Pompeo’s future in the long-running medical series.

The truth is, even though Pompeo may not be physically present in the episodes, her presence is still felt because she still does the voice-over narration for the episodes – something she’s done ever since the show’s pilot episode, with very few exceptions. Marinis explained that the actor won’t be back for the whole season, but that fans will be “excited to see her in the episodes that she’s in.” What may confuse fans is that Pompeo will get top billing in the credits, meaning she’ll always be listed as a regular on the screen. So what is her status and why will ABC keep her in the credits?

“Her status is that she’s always a huge part of the show. I don’t know the answer to your question about why they choose to list it that way. But we have an open door policy with her. When she is able to be here, we welcome her with open arms. We work with her schedule, she still does the voice-over. She was a huge part of the premiere for me, she and I have a great relationship. She’s constantly in my head, her voice. She cares very deeply for the show and even in the episodes that she’s not in, she’s interested to know what’s happening. So, you’ll see her come and go and she will always remain a very important part to the show.”

How Many Episodes Will Meredith Be In in Season 20?

Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) standing in front of a bunch of brain scans in the Season 19 finale of Grey's Anatomy Image via ABC

According to Deadline, sources indicated that Pompeo is in at least two episodes from Season 20, and might be in as many as four out of the ten-episode run. She’s technically not a regular anymore, but the positioning of her name has a double purpose. First, to honor the fact that Meredith Grey is still the heart of the show. Also, to reflect that even though she might not be physically present, her narration will continue to bookend every episode.

Season 20 of Grey’s Anatomy premieres tonight on ABC, with Jessica Capshaw reprising her role as Arizona Robbins after a six-season absence. The new season also welcomes Natalie Morales as the new Peds surgeon. Past seasons of the show are streaming now on Hulu. Watch the trailer for the new season below:

Greys Anatomy TV Show Poster

Grey’s Anatomy

A drama centered on the personal and professional lives of five surgical interns and their supervisors.

Release Date March 27, 2005

Main Genre Drama

Seasons 20

Watch on Hulu