grey's anatomy who will die
Credit: ABC

Star Ellen Pompeo says the show is deciding her character’s fate “right now.”

With Grey’s Anatomy set to return with new episodes beginning Thursday, March 11 at 9 p.m. ET, fans have only one question on their minds: the primetime sudser wouldn’t really kill off its lead character… would it?

Apparently, they just might. Especially if the show intends for this to be its last season. During an interview on CBS Sunday Morning, Pompeo claimed that she wasn’t necessarily avoiding giving spoilers about her alter ego’s future but rather that Mer’s fate was still uncertain.

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“We honestly have not decided,” she swore. “We’re really trying to figure it out right now.”

Pressed for details, the actress said everyone involved was trying to decide “what story do we tell to end a show this iconic? How do we do it? I just want to make sure we do this character and this show and the fans… I want to make sure we do it right.”

To us, however, the answer is obvious: Even if Pompeo decides to exit the series (from which, by the way, she makes a reported $20 million a year), that doesn’t mean it necessarily needs to end.

What, are we the only people who’ve ever heard the phrase “The show must go on”?

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While it might at first seem odd to even ponder a Meredith-less Grey’s Anatomy, this season has proven more than any other that the series is an ensemble drama. After all, Meredith has spent most weeks bedridden and comatose, most of her very short scenes taking place on a beach where she interacts with faces from the past. Meanwhile, other characters and storylines are actually driving the drama.

In the interview (which can be viewed in its entirety above), Pompeo admits she was reluctant to join the cast, fearing she would become bored after a few months. Perhaps 17 years later, that’s finally happened… in which case she could easily step aside while letting the series itself continue to make viewers — and network suits for whom the show is very profitable — happy.

Should all involved decide that Meredith is simply too crucial a character to be killed off, perhaps Pompeo would be open to the idea of becoming something of a glorified (and very well-paid) guest star. Meredith could accept a position with the Catherine Fox Foundation which requires her to spend much of the year traveling as a guest lecturer but allows Grey — and Pompeo — to return for crucial storyline moments.

Over the years, Grey’s Anatomy has survived the departures of many major players, including Katherine Heigl’s Izzie, Sandra Oh’s Cristina and Patrick Dempsey’s Derek. Like all great soaps, this one has become about so much more than any one character and should be allowed to thrive, with or without its longtime leading lady.

What say you, Grey’s fans? Would you continue watching the show if Meredith was killed off or wound up only appearing a few times a year? Or should they pull the plug when Pompeo decides to leave? Hit the comments with your thoughts, then check out the gallery below in which we pay tribute to one of the all-time best primetime soaps, Knots Landing.