Anthony Hill as Winston Ndugu and Kelly McCreary as Maggie Pierce in Grey's Anatomy.

Spoilers ahead for the Grey's Anatomy Season 18 finale, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight."

ABC’s long-running medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy, is staying in rotation for the 2021-22 season, bringing the series up to 18 seasons. The network announced a renewal last month, and it was a long time coming, especially after it was rumored that the series would be ending after the then-current Season 17. Now, Kelly McCreary, who portrays Dr. Maggie Pierce, has recalled the uncertainty that initially surrounded the renewal.

Grey’s Anatomy didn’t get renewed for Season 18 until just a few weeks before the Season 17 finale. While it’s not the first time ABC has waited a while to renew the series, there were rumors flying around for the last several months that the network might finally axe the medical drama. And fans weren’t the only ones waiting, as McCreary told ET that everyone within the cast was waiting in anticipation. The actress provided thoughts on what was running through her mind at the time and how she feels about getting to tell more stories in addition to the ones already being told:

I mean, we didn’t know. Nobody knew what would happen. And there was just like, speaking of wild speculation, we were all wondering, ‘Does it mean something that all of these characters from the past are coming back?’ You know, what do they have planned for closing out this show, which has such a long and storied legacy. On the one hand, it seems like a really great way to close it out. There is still a lot of story to tell and wrap up and finish. I was just excited that we’ll have a chance to do that, or even to continue the story even further or spin-off some stories. It’s nice to know that, like, we didn’t, it didn’t, come to an abrupt end. It would have felt very abrupt to me, to be honest. I’m glad we can sort of tease things out a little longer.

With the way Season 17 ended, it would have been harsh to just end the series there. Following a flash forward to April 2021 and backtracking to show what the characters and Grey Sloan has been going through over the months, Kelly McCreary’s Maggie and fiancé Winston (Anthony Hill) got their beach wedding, Jo (Camilla Luddington) was finally able to adopt baby Luna and moved into Jackson’s former home. Meanwhile, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) went back to work and took care of patient Gerlie after she collapsed just before she was released following her recovery from COVID and Owen (Kevin McKidd) proposed to Teddy (Kim Raver) yet again, with the two officially rekindling their relationship. Also, Link (Chris Carmack) proposed to Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) after Maggie and Winston’s wedding, though it did not end in the way he would've hoped.

Season 17 set up a number of storylines for Season 18, meaning there are multiple directions Grey’s Anatomy can go from here. As some characters are getting ready to start their new lives, it will be interesting to see what happens in the upcoming season, as well as how COVID will be incorporated, if it even still will be. The finale also included the doctors at Grey Sloan finally getting their vaccinations, so it’s possible the pandemic will be a thing of the past in Season 18. Only time will tell.

The first 16 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy are streaming on Netflix, while Season 17 is streaming on Hulu. Season 18 is expected to premiere this fall and will air Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.

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