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Why There Isn’t A New Episode Until Spring 2021

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Grey’s Anatomy season 17 isn’t airing new episodes until spring 2021, but why is the show’s annual winter hiatus so long this year? Grey’s Anatomy season 17 won’t be airing new episodes until spring 2021, but why? The long-running ABC medical drama was one of the first U.S. TV shows to return for new episodes in…

Grey’s Anatomy season 17 isn’t airing new episodes until spring 2021, but why is the show’s annual winter hiatus so long this year?

Grey’s Anatomy season 17 won’t be airing new episodes until spring 2021, but why? The long-running ABC medical drama was one of the first U.S. TV shows to return for new episodes in the fall of 2020, and its record-breaking 17th season made headlines on a weekly basis as it tackled an incredibly timely storyline – one that also happened to feature some familiar faces from the show’s past. However, Grey‘s hasn’t aired any new episodes since December 2020. That unfortunately won’t be changing for a number of weeks as the show doesn’t return to screens until March 4, 2021.

The show is currently in the midst of its winter hiatus. Fans are no stranger to the annual holiday break, but what makes this one significantly different from previous years is the length of it. Usually, Grey’s would – like other American TV shows – return sometime in late January or early February. However, that clearly isn’t the case this time around. What makes it that much worse for fans is the fact that it comes after the show aired just six episodes in the fall – an unusually short amount when compared to its previous autumn runs. There is a reason for the lengthy break, however.

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Related: Grey’s Anatomy: Why Patrick Dempsey’s Return Was A Major Season 17 Mistake

Grey’s Anatomy season 17 is only 16 episodes long, making it the second-shortest in the show’s 15-year run, with only the first season of Grey’s Anatomy having fewer episodes. Like many shows that filmed during 2020 and 2021, its episode count was likely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With all the delays to filming in 2020, most networks have waited until 2021 to kick off their new programming slate, so it’s quite remarkable that the show was able to air any episodes in the fall of 2020. However, as there are only 10 episodes remaining, the extended hiatus is necessary so that the show can remain on the air for the remainder of the TV season. This delay will allow Grey’s Anatomy to run until its season finale in May without having to face any interruptions.

Meredith Grey with Covid in Grey's Anatomy

Understandable as it is, however, that doesn’t change the fact that December to March is still a pretty long wait. In this age of streaming services and catch-up, there are more TV shows to consume than ever before, so a lengthy hiatus such as this – especially when it takes place just as most network shows are returning to screens – could have a detrimental impact on its viewership. Grey’s Anatomy continues to be a rare network TV juggernaut, but its ratings are in decline. There’s a chance that some viewers will get tired of waiting and may not return after the extended break.

Moreover, this extended break also risks undercutting the impact of one of the most intense cliffhangers in the show’s history. The midseason finale saw Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) – who had been battling COVID-19 all season – put on a ventilator after her condition once again worsened. Of course, the show’s devoted followers will return to see the resolution of that cliffhanger but, naturally, they aren’t happy about having to wait for it. For better or worse, the show will return to screens in spring 2021 and, with Meredith back on that mystical beach, fans will undoubtedly be wondering if they’ll see any more familiar Grey’s Anatomy faces pop up throughout the season.

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