Grey's anatomy season 20 masnup
Credit: ABC

With or without Meredith, the long-running primetime drama’s vital stats are excellent.

If we’re being honest, we went into Season 19 of Grey’s Anatomy with pretty low expectations. Sadly, the last couple of years were so lackluster that when ABC began talking about the possibility of the primetime sudser coming to an end, we sort of shrugged and thought, “Well, it had a good run.”

But a funny thing happened between last season’s finale and this season’s premiere: the show went and remembered all the things we’d once loved about it and put them front and center. A whole new group of interns (including Derek’s secret nephew) gave us flashbacks to the glory days of George, Izzy, Cristina, Alex and, of course, Meredith. Owen and Teddy’s bummer of a storyline became comic fodder as the Bickersons made life hellish for everyone around them.

In short, the show went and got its groove back.

Yes, we’ve been warned that Ellen Pompeo’s reduced work schedule will mean far less Meredith this season but… who cares? While the show may originally have used Mer as our entry into this world, it long ago became an ensemble piece. Heck, even were the woman who puts the Grey in Grey’s Anatomy to leave entirely, the title would still make sense given that what was once Seattle Grace (and, for a blessedly brief period, Seattle Grace Mercy West) is now known as Grey Sloan Memorial.

More: Will Jo and Link finally find love this season? 

With the show in better shape than it has been in years, we’re already looking forward to the future and wondering what it might hold. Thankfully, we’ve gotten major clues that have us excited about the days, weeks and yes, even years to come. Three weeks into Season 19, and we’re already anticipating Season 20!

Take, for example, the slew of returns on the horizon. Showrunner Krista Vernoff recently told our sister-site TVLine what we can expect when Kate Walsh’s Addison shows up in the episode airing on October 19. “We’re telling a really powerful story about Addison and Bailey joining forces that is in turns funny and gut-wrenching,” she previewed, adding that we would finally learn a bit more about the status of Addison’s personal life.

grey's anatomy jackson april kiss elevator season 18

Not far behind Addison will come Jesse Williams’ Jackson. Given that the character was last seen smooching former wife April in the Grey Sloan elevator, we’re definitely overdue for an update on “Japril”. And although Sarah Drew won’t appear with her on-screen partner in the November 3 episode, TVLine also reported that when Jackson chats with Meredith, we’ll definitely find out where he and April stand.

Aside from the confirmed returns, we can’t help but wonder/hope if others might be in the cards… or perhaps more crossovers with unofficial spinoff Station 19. It’s not hard to imagine lovelorn firefighter Travis — who’s running for mayor and being encouraged to find a suitable mate — falling for newly-appointed chief resident Schmitt. And with Ben fearing that his dangerous current career could result in him being harmed or even killed, might he opt for a return to the relatively safe environs of Grey Sloan? If nothing else, this would give us much more Ben/Bailey time (assuming she eventually returns to the hospital as well), and that’s always a good thing.

And lest we forget, we’ve got all those new interns, each with stories to tell, secrets to keep and challenges to face. In other words, they are the future of this show… and they’re a bit part of what has us excited for what’s to come!

Check out these pics of your favorite Grey’s Anatomy stars and their real-life partners