Grey's Anatomy mashup
Credit: Getty Images (4)

“She will always remain part of the Shondaland family.”

It looks like another big name is about to check out of Grey’s Anatomy. Even as the show is preparing to handle a Meredith-less future — or at least one in which Ellen Pompeo’s presence is massively reduced — comes word that Krista Vernoff, the executive producer who helped reshape the long-running primetime soap even while serving the same position on sister-series Station 19, will be departing both shows at the end of the current season.

In a statement released exclusively to our sister-site, Deadline, Vernoff referred to the job she’s about to depart as “the privilege of a lifetime.” She also gave a shoutout to viewers, saying, “The passion of the dedicated fandoms and the impact that these shows have on hearts and minds cannot be overstated.”

Grey's Anatomy Meredith Addison hospital

Meanwhile, Shonda Rhimes — creator of Grey’s Anatomy as well as some of the most successful programs in recent memory — was effusive in her praise of the departing Vernoff. “Krista’s creativity, vision and dedicated leadership have allowed Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 to continue to flourish,” she raved. “I am incredibly grateful to her for all her hard work. She will always remain part of the Shondaland family.”

More: When your favorite primetime shows return

No word yet on who will take the reins, although Deadline reports that Meg Marinis, who’s been with the show from the beginning, is the lead contender.

Of course, that’s assuming that Grey’s and Station 19 receive renewals, which has not yet happened. In fact, it would be in ABC’s best interest to do so immediately, if only to quell fan fears that the exits of first Pompeo and now Vernoff are a sign that this will, in fact, be Grey’s final season. These rumors kicked up again when it was revealed that Pompeo would definitely be returning for the final episode of the current season, which was written by Vernoff and will be her final outing as well.

Despite these high-profile exits, it seems almost inevitable that Grey’s and its firehouse-centric spinoff will be back for their 20th and sixth seasons, respectfully. As we’ve previously speculated, Grey’s, in particular, is perfectly poised for the future thanks to an influx of new characters and the recent return of longtime fan fave Addison (as played by the sublime Kate Walsh).

Find out where Grey’s and all your other favorite primetime soaps landed on our list of the best ever!