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Grey's Anatomy season 18 release date, cast and latest news

Grey's Anatomy season 18 with Ellen Pompeo
(Image credit: ABC)

The doctors are scrubbing in for Grey's Anatomy season 18. ABC officially renewed the longest-running medical drama in TV history after star Ellen Pompeo signed a new deal that likely gives her a big pay raise. And she's not the only original cast member definitely returning! ABC has also set a release date for Grey's Anatomy season 18, so mark your September calendar.

In the current season, Grey's Anatomy has made the coronavirus pandemic a major storyline, as well as last summer's protests around racial injustice. The series was created by Shonda Rhimes, who handed off showrunner duties to Krista Vernoff. Pompeo is also an executive producer and the highest paid actress on television, pulling in $20 million a year. 

Even after all these years, Grey's Anatomy still pulls in big ratings for ABC. It is the network's top drama in total viewers and the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo. Grey's Anatomy is also the No. 1 show in that demo among all broadcast networks.

Grey's Anatomy season 18 was up in the air for a few months due to ABC's negotiations with talent. Vernoff told The Hollywood Reporter in March that she was "planning a season and a finale that could function as either a season finale or a series finale."

Well, now fans know that it won't be the latter. Along with Grey's Anatomy season 18, ABC also ordered season 5 of spinoff series Station 19.

Here's everything we know so far about Grey's Anatomy season 18.

Grey's Anatomy season 18 release date

ABC has set the Grey's Anatomy season 18 release date for Thursday, September 30.

This mostly falls in line with previous seasons' premieres. Season 17 debuted a little later than usual, due to COVID-related productions delays. But previous seasons were released in late September, usually the Thursday following the Emmys. 

This year, the 2021 Emmys are scheduled for September 19. However, it seems season 18 requires an extra week (possibly related to pandemic production scheduling). 

Grey's Anatomy season 18 cast

The cast of Grey's Anatomy season 18 is led by Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey, the head of general surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in Seattle. 

Pompeo signed a deal that likely gave her a pay raise above the $20 million a year she got for the previous several seasons. 

Two more original Grey's Anatomy cast members also made deals to return: Chandra Wilson as chief of surgery Miranda Bailey and James Pickens Jr. as Dr. Richard Webber. 

They join three actors who are already on board for season 18: Kevin McKidd as Dr. Owen Hunt, Kim Raver as Dr. Teddy Altman and Camilla Luddington as Dr. Jo Wilson.

Three major actors will definitely not be back for season 18. The first is Jesse Williams as Dr. Jackson Avery. Williams announced he was leaving the show after 12 seasons. Jackson is being written out as taking over his family's foundation in Boston and taking ex-wife April Kepner and their daughter Harriet with him.

The second is Giacomo Gianniotti as Dr. Andrew DeLuca, who died in a March episode. 

The third is Greg Germann as Dr. Tom Koracick. However, he may appear in cameos or in a recurring capacity down the line.

As for other Grey's Anatomy cast members who could return, they include:

  • Caterina Scorsone as Dr. Amelia Shepherd
  • Kelly McCreary as Dr. Maggie Pierce
  • Jake Borelli as Dr. Levi Schmitt
  • Chris Carmack as Dr. Atticus "Link" Lincoln
  • Richard Flood as Dr. Cormac Hayes
  • Anthony Hill as Dr. Winston Ndugu
  • Debbie Allen as Dr. Catherine Fox
  • Jason George as Ben Warren
  • Alex Landi as Dr. Nico Kim
  • Jaicy Elliot as Dr. Taryn Helm
  • Lisa Vidal as Dr. Alma Ortiz
  • Melissa DuPrey as Dr. Sara Ortiz
  • Nikhil Shukla as Dr. Reza Khan
  • Robert I. Mesa as Dr. James Chee
  • Zaiver Sinnett as Dr. Zander Perez

With Vernoff still overseeing both Grey's and Station 19, fans will probably see more crossovers from the latter show's cast members, including Jason George as Ben Warren (a surgeon, current firefighter and Miranda Bailey's husband).

Season 17 featured appearances by former cast members, including Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd, T.R. Knight as Dr. George O'Malley, Chyler Leigh as Dr. Lexie Grey and Eric Dane as Dr. Mark Sloan. However, their deceased characters were part of Meredith's COVID-fueled dreams, so we don't expect any more cameos in Grey's Anatomy season 18.

Grey's Anatomy season 18 episodes

ABC's renewal announcement did not specify a number of episodes, but we can guess it'll be at least 20. 

This year, Grey's Anatomy is only airing 17 episodes in a season shortened by the pandemic. However, previous seasons all consisted of at least 20 episodes (season 16 had 21, season 15 had 25, etc.). 

When is Grey's Anatomy season 18 streaming on Netflix?

Grey's Anatomy season 18 will be released on Netflix ... but not for awhile. 

Season 17 is streaming now on Netflix,  after hitting the service in July.

Usually, Netflix gets a Grey's Anatomy season a month after it finishes. Since season 18 is premiering in late September 2021 and likely airing until May 2022, that indicates a Netflix release date in June 2022. 

Kelly Woo

Kelly covers streaming media for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.