James Pickens Jr./instagram
On Wednesday, Pickens Jr., an original star of the ABC medical drama, shared a fun snap on Instagram, showing him posing with his new costars in their scrubs.
In the photo, Pickens Jr. stood front and center, while Nick Therho, Adelaide Kane, Midori Francis, Harry Shum Jr., and Alexis Floyd smiled beside him.
"Let's give a warm welcome to the new Interns of the Grey's family, excited for season 19✌🏾," wrote the actor, 67, who has played Dr. Richard Webber on the series since its premiere in March 2005.
The official Grey's Anatomy Instagram page also sent love in the comments, writing, "Welcome to the fam ❤️🩺"
The special moment comes amid news that Ellen Pompeo — who has anchored the hit ABC medical drama for the past 17 years — will be taking a step back from the Shonda Rhimes-helmed series for the upcoming season. She will only appear in eight episodes, per a Deadline report.
Pompeo's character, Meredith Grey, ended the 18th season by making the tough decision to stay in Seattle and become Grey Sloan Memorial's new interim Chief of Surgery.
In tandem with that shift at Grey's, Pompeo, 52, has signed on to star in Hulu's upcoming limited series Orphan. The series is an adaptation of the 2009 film based on the true story of Ukranian-born Natalia Grace, whose adoptive parents in the U.S. claimed she was an adult sociopath pretending to be a child. Pompeo will also serve as executive producer via her ABC Signature-based production company, Calamity Jane.
Prior to signing the Hulu deal, the actress admitted she'd be fine hanging up her acting hat when Grey's Anatomy takes its final bow. "I'm not saying I'll never act again, I very well may, but I'm not super excited about continuing my acting career," she said last year on the Ladies First with Laura Brown podcast.
She also previously told Entertainment Weekly in 2018 that she was "looking for a change" in her career. "I'm clearly not prepared right now to make any formal announcement about what my future is on the show, but I am really feeling like we have told the majority of the stories that we can tell," she said at the time.
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While Pompeo takes a step back, another beloved character may be returning to the series.
Kim Raver has suggested she'll be back for the highly-anticipated season after portraying Dr. Teddy Altman for eight seasons. In an interview with PEOPLE in June, Raver, 53, said, "Season 19 is going to be insane. It's like the bomb exploding and what is the fallout going to be? What show can pull off 19 years?"
"I think that's real credit to Krista Vernoff, Debbie Allen and Shonda Rhimes, and all of the writers," she continued. "That's a really hard thing to do. To do that finale she did and to pull that off after all these seasons, of everyone going, 'Wait, what is happening?'"
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In the 18th season finale, which aired in May, Teddy, her husband Dr. Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) and their two kids had to flee after it was discovered that Owen illegally gave pills to veterans as a form of assisted suicide. They were last seen on an airplane as a foursome in first class.
"I mean, look, I hope that's not the way we're ending it. There is still a lot to be told with these two," said Raver of her possible return. "But you never know. You have to keep everyone sort of wanting to tune in at the end of September. I just think there are still stories to be told."
Season 19 of Grey's Anatomy premieres Thursday, Oct. 6 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.