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Krista Vernoff knows she’s about to ask a lot from ABC viewers.

When Grey’s Anatomy kicks off a new season on October 6, the long-running drama will feature five new cast members:

Niko Terho, Adelaide Kane, Midori Francis, Harry Shum Jr. and Alexis Floyd arę all coming on board as a new class of residents.

“We haven’t brought in a cast of five series regular interns since the beginning, so this is a big deal,” Krista Vernoff admits in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly.

A major reason for these additions is the surprising news that Ellen Pompeo will only appear on a handful of Season 19 episodes.

As a result, Vernoff told this outlet, “this felt like the right moment to come at it fresh with a bunch [of new characters].”

The show runner adds that Dr. Schmitt will be the resident in charge of the newbies, explaining to EW:

“He’s the only senior resident. Because the program had to reboot, so all the senior residents got assigned to new residencies and Levi Schmitt also got assigned to a new residency, but he was not enjoying that residency and made his way back.

“And that story is in the premiere and it’s very funny.”

Meredith Grey will not appear on every episode of Grey’s Anatomy Season 19. But here she is on the premiere!

Vernoff also said there are many challenges for the interns to confront, describing them as “diamonds in the rough.”

“These are people who didn’t match or who maybe got kicked out of a first residency who have something in their history that caused their grades to drop,” she said in this interview.

“They are all coming from something that they had to overcome in order to be here.”

We also know, meanwhile, that Kate Walsh will reprise her role as Addison Montgomery for a decent chunk of the upcoming season.

Addison Montgomery
Kate Walsh will return to Grey’s Anatomy in 2021-2022 as Addison Montgomery. Talk about a shocker!

But it’s Meredith/Pompeo on which most of the recent attention has been paid.

Could Grey’s Anatomy continue on without her entirely?

“I haven’t crossed that bridge yet because I’ve got Meredith for the first eight episodes, and then I’ll have less of Meredith,” replied Vernoff to EW.

“So one of the goals here is to platform this new class of residents in a way that everyone falls in love with them. And if Meredith isn’t here anymore all the time, everybody still wants to come.”

Concluded the producer on this topic

“I think Ellen is extraordinary and this show has always been an ensemble show. We have so many characters that are so beloved and have been on the show for so long that people would stay for.

“I just felt like it was important to also bring in fresh young students for those people to teach.

“Those people are all teachers now. I needed students.