Ellen Pompeo will be in only eight episodes of new ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ season. Here’s why

A bond woman in large-framed eye glasses poses with her head tilted
Ellen Pompeo attends the Disney 2022 Upfront presentation at Basketball City Pier 36 in New York on May 17.
(Charles Sykes / Invision / Associated Press)

“Grey’s Anatomy” fixture Ellen Pompeo, who has long played surgeon Dr. Meredith Grey in ABC’s prime-time medical drama, will be reducing her screen time in upcoming 19th season as she reportedly goes to work on a new Hulu project.

Pompeo will appear in “a limited capacity” on the network’s flagship series, which goes into production this week, including appearing in eight episodes, The Times confirmed Wednesday. Still, she’ll narrate every episode and serve as an executive producer. (It’s unclear how many episodes were ordered for the new season, and ABC has not said whether it will be the series’ final bow.)

The Shonda Rhimes-created show, which premiered in 2005, still remains ABC’s top scripted series and has spawned several spinoffs, including “Private Practice” and “Station 19,” in which she’s also made guest appearances.

While many original cast members — Patrick Dempsey, Eric Dane and Katherine Heigl — have departed “Grey’s,” Pompeo has remained a stalwart alongside Chandra Wilson’s Dr. Miranda Bailey and James Pickens Jr.’s Dr. Richard Webber. Both Wilson and Pickens Jr. will be returning for Season 19 as well.

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In the Season 18 finale, Meredith decided to remain at the series’ Grey Sloan Memorial hospital as the interim chief of surgery rather than moving to Minnesota. When “Grey’s Anatomy” was renewed in January, the “Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo” podcast host reportedly signed a one-year deal to return to the series.

Although Bailey quit last season after the show’s medical center shut down its residency program, the new season will introduce audiences to a new batch of interns when it premieres on Oct. 6. They include Alexis Floyd as Simone Griffin, Niko Terho as Lucas Adams, Midori Francis as Mika Yasuda, Adelaide Kane as Jules Millin and Harry Shum Jr. as Daniel “Blue” Kwan.

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Pompeo’s shift reduction on “Grey’s” comes as she gears up to take on her first major acting role outside the ABC series. She’ll star in an eight-episode limited series for Hulu, ABC’s sister streaming service, currently operating as the Untitled Orphan Project. She came aboard the project earlier this summer, Deadline reported.

That production centers on the bizarre true story of Ukrainian-born Natalia Grace, a young woman with dwarfism who duped her adoptive Midwestern parents into thinking she was a child. They claimed that she was an adult sociopath who threatened their lives, and their situation devolved into “a battle that’s fought in the tabloids, the courtroom, and ultimately their marriage,” according to the logline.

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The Hulu project draws parallels from the 2009 horror film “Orphan,” which spun a similar yarn.

Pompeo will play the mother in the series created and written by Katie Robbins (“The Affair” and “The Last Tycoon”). She’ll also executive produce the project through her production banner Calamity Jane with Laura Holstein.