UPDATED: Fifteen days ago, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy became one of the first series to suspend production as the U.S. and Hollywood were just starting to grasp the scope of the coronavirus health crisis. The decision was made after the medical drama starring Ellen Pompeo had wrapped production on Episode 21 of its 25-episode 16th season.
At the time, the hiatus was going to be for at least two weeks. Now it has been made permanent for Season 16, which will not resume production to complete filming on additional episodes amid an escalating COVID-19 outbreak in the country that has claimed the lives of more than 1,300 people.
The last produced episode, #1621, aptly titled “Put on a Happy Face,” will air April 9. It will serve as the Grey’s Anatomy Season 16 finale. The episode was written by Mark Driscoll and Tameson Duffy and directed by Deborah Pratt.
Grey’s Anatomy, the longest-running medical drama on television, already has been renewed for Season 17. It has not been decided yet whether the four unproduced episodes from Season 16 will be tacked onto the show’s order for next season or if they will open Season 17 next fall.
Grey’s Anatomy executive producer and showrunner Krista Vernoff provided some clarity on Twitter. “We will resume our storytelling in Season 17.”
She also commented on the unplanned early ending of Season 16.
“We are disappointed that we don’t get to complete our storytelling this season,” she wrote. “The good news? 1621 plays like a satisfying finale! It’s not where we planned to end, but it’s beautiful & the questions that linger we will answer next year.”
The other two Shondaland series, Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Station 19 and How to Get Away with Murder, had completed their shorter orders before the mass production shutdowns. Their finales, including HTGAWM’s series finale, will air on May 14 as previously scheduled.
It is unclear whether there was a Grey’s-Station 19 crossover planned for the last four weeks of their runs that would now be one-sided but that is a real possibility given the close integration between the two series under executive producer/showrunner Vernoff.
Grey’s Anatomy is one of dozens of broadcast TV series that have had their current seasons short by the coronavirus pandemic, which has put all Hollywood production on hold. For more on that, please read our story Coronavirus-Related Shutdowns Leave Series Without Finales, Create Dilemma For ‘Empire’ & ‘Supernatural’
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