As we head into Grey's Anatomy Season 17, there has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of the ABC juggernaut.
Earlier in the year, reports emerged that it would be the last for the primetime medical drama that has gone through a lot of cast changes through the years.
Now, Grey's Anatomy Seasons 18 and 19 just got a whole lot more likely.
Deadline is reporting that Camilla Luddington (aka Dr. Jo Karev), Kevin McKidd (Dr. Owen Hunt), and Kim Raver (Dr. Teddy Altman) have signed new, three-year contracts to stay in the cast of the series.
Luddington joined the series in Grey's Anatomy Season 9, while McKidd — who has also directed 27 episodes — has been part of the cast since Grey's Anatomy Season 5. Raver was a series regular for Seasons 6 to 8 before returning full-time in Grey's Anatomy Season 15.
The trio has been at the center of a lot of the drama's storylines over the last few years, so it makes sense that they would be locked in and ready to go for three seasons.
While this does not guarantee the show will go on that long, it does signal that negotiations are starting to take place about the veteran drama's future.
Ellen Pompeo, the show's leading lady, is signed on through the upcoming season, and while we want to believe she will sign on for more seasons, it is not a given.
Shonda Rhimes has been vocal about the series ending when Pompeo decides it's time to exit, but given that the show remains a resounding success, there's a chance that plan could change.
If you watch Grey's Anatomy online, you know the series has survived some big cast shake-ups and the beauty of the series is that it is an ensemble at heart.
ABC will not want to part ways with its #1 scripted series without a fight, and given the decline in the ratings across broadcast TV, Grey's Anatomy is still a hit.
Grey's Anatomy Season 16 averaged 6.2 million total viewers and a 1.3 rating in the demo in Live+SD metrics.
While those figures are way down from the stratospheric heights of the earlier seasons, ABC announced earlier this year that an episode delivered 16.5 million total viewers in Live+35 ratings.
That same episode had a 6.0 rating in the adults 18-49 demo.
So, there are still a lot of viewers for the show.
It's entirely possible that Pompeo will re-up her deal, but we also need to be prepared for the possibility that the actress will want to spread her wings and try out some new roles.
Word of the trio signing new deals comes just days after the series announced it had promoted both Richard Flood and Anthony Hill to series regulars, and that Stefania Spampinato was being shipped over to Station 19 as a series regular.
As for when Grey's Anatomy Season 17 might air, ABC hopes it will return in the fall, but it will all come down to whether production can be carried out safely.
What do you think of this news?
Would you like the show to continue if Pompeo exits?
Hit the comments.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.