'Grey's Anatomy' Stars Pay Tribute to 'Iconic' Ellen Pompeo Ahead of Meredith Grey's Farewell Episode

Pompeo announced her reduced role in Grey's Anatomy last December after starring in the ABC medical drama for 19 seasons

GREY’S ANATOMY - “I’ll Follow the Sun” - On Meredith’s last day at Grey Sloan, the doctors plan a goodbye surprise and Nick confronts her about the future of their relationship. The interns compete to scrub in on a groundbreaking procedure, and Richard asks Teddy an important question. THURSDAY, FEB. 23 (9:00-10:01 p.m. EST), on ABC. (ABC) ELLEN POMPEO
Photo: abc

Ellen Pompeo is feeling the love from her Grey's Anatomy family as they bid her farewell.

Ahead of the mid-season winter premiere on Thursday, several of Pompeo's costars paid tribute to the actress as she prepares to take on a reduced role in the series, and her character Meredith Grey says goodbye to Grey Sloane Memorial.

Showrunner and creator Shonda Rhimes shared her love for her leading lady of the past 19 seasons with a shot of Pompeo from Thursday's episode, as well as some sweet photos of the two.

"What a journey these 19 seasons have been! Wouldn't trade them (or you) for the world. Beyond excited for your next chapter. See you later, Dr. Grey. ❤️ #greysanatomy," Rhimes, 53, wrote.

Pompeo, 53, responded by saying, "Same Queen Same … We certainly did the damn thing!!! ❤️🏆👑"

Her longtime costar James Pickens Jr. shared a touching video tribute, featuring photos of the Grey's veterans from their time together over the years.

"Ellen, you took words off the page of some talented writers and breathed life into a character who became part of the lexicon of our culture. Hell of a ride! Thank you! Much love," wrote Pickens Jr., 68, alongside the clip, set to "My Girl" by The Temptations.

"Thank you for this @therealjamespickens !! I love you and having you as a scene partner is about as lucky as an actor can get!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ Big Love for you," Pompeo replied on the post.

Kate Walsh reposted Picken's video, writing "We love u endlessly Ellen," in addition to posting her own tribute.

"My buddy, my gal pal, my 'sister wife' 😂…To know u is to love u @EllenPompeo, and reuniting for ur last season on @GreysABC has truly been the best fever dream. Happy trails my dear friend! ❤️😘🩺" Walsh, 55, captioned her carousel of pics with Pompeo, along with an adorable gif of the two laughing.

Caterina Scorsone — who plays Meredith's sister-in-law, Dr. Amelia Shepherd — wrote on her post honoring Pompeo: "What a wild ride. Learned to buckle up and bootie up from the best. Luckiest Little Sister."

Starring as Meredith's half-sister, Dr. Maggie Pierce, Kelly McCreary shared a snuggly snap of her and Pompeo on set.

"@EllenPompeo you are one of one. Thank you for your warm embrace, for sharing wisdom and game, for all the sugar AND all the spice! Onto the next iconic adventure!! Wishing you the absolute best! ♥️🥂," wrote McCreary, 41.

Debbie Allen, who has directed several episodes in addition to portraying Dr. Catherine Fox, shared photos of her and Pompeo as she recognized the changing of the tides.

"Tonight's Episode is an epic sea change for our Meredith Grey. Not to be missed. Love You, G❤️," Allen, 73, wrote.

Pompeo responded to Allen's post by commenting, "Love you more @therealdebbieallen ❤️"

Pompeo's costar Kevin McKidd also nodded to her exit, sharing a photo on his Instagram story of the two on set. Along with rollercoaster gif, McKidd, 49, wrote over the pic, "It's been a ride!"

Kevin McKidd/Instagram

Season newcomer, Glee alum Harry Shum Jr., also honored Pompeo ahead of the winter premiere episode.

"The day is here. Thank you @ellenpompeo for welcoming us into the @greysabc family! You have left us with so much to look back on and more to look forward to. Tonight at 9pm/8pm ct, we are back on your screens with a special farewell to Meredith Grey as she says goodbye to Seattle!" he wrote.

Before the winter hiatus, Meredith's storyline ended with her character's decision to leave Seattle for Boston, where she accepted a position with the Catherine Fox Foundation to research Alzheimer's disease.

Pompeo stepped back from Grey's Anatomy this season to pursue outside projects, including Orphan, which follows a terrifying adoption story in which a couple's new daughter turns out to be a grown woman masquerading as a child.

During an appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show in December, Pompeo opened up about her reduced role on the ABC medical drama.

"I feel super happy, but listen the show has been incredible to me and I've loved a lot of the experience," she shared. "Listen it's just I gotta mix it up a little bit. I'm 53, my brain is like scrambled eggs ... I gotta do something new or I'm literally gonna turn into, like, [someone who] can't do the New York Times crossword puzzle every single day."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Grey's Anatomy returns to ABC on Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. ET.

Related Articles