Ellen Pompeo gets emotional reflecting on Impact of 'Grey's Anatomy'

Ellen Pompeo is overwhelmed by the impact of Grey's Anatomy.

The 48-year-old stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday, where she reveals that fans can definitely expect a 16th season and even says "there's just no end in sight" for the medical drama.

"My contract is till season 16, and so I'm completely obligated to do season 16," Pompeo says. "You know, these numbers, there's just no end in sight... The show is so popular." 

Pompeo, who plays Dr. Meredith Grey on the ABC series, goes on to praise the host for giving her a platform to thank her fans.

"Everywhere I go -- whether it's Italy, whether it's France, London, Kansas -- people come up to me with tears in their eyes and tell me how meaningful is to them," Pompeo says, recalling a meaningful conversation she had with an actor after directing an episode.  

"A teenager was in the show and he was gay and he played a gay character on my show, and after we had filmed the whole entire episode, he said to me, 'You know, my whole life I've watched with my parents and I sort of used the show as a way to tell my parents that I was gay. And to show my parents that it's OK, that I'm not different, there's nothing wrong with me. And Grey's really helped my parents to understand what having a gay son meant and that it wasn't necessarily a bad thing. And for my parents to now see me as an actor getting a part on this show has just been everything,'" she says with tears in her eyes. 

Ellen Pompeo through the years
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Ellen Pompeo through the years
Ellen Pompeo during 'Catch Me If You Can' Los Angeles Premiere at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during 2002 Toronto Film Festival - Motorola 'Moonlight Mile' Party at Power Plant in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
Actress Ellen Pompeo stars in the fall movie 'Moonlight Mile' with Jake Guylenhall, Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon. Here she is photographed in Wattles Garden Park. 08/23/2002 (Photo by Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Ellen Pompeo (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during DreamWorks Premiere of Old School - Arrivals at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Ellen Pompeo at the The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during 'Collateral' Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during Prada Opens Beverly Hills Epicenter - Arrivals at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals at The Shrine in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo during 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Press Room at The Shrine in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Ellen Pompeo (Photo by Gail Oskin/WireImage for PMK/HBH)
Ellen Pompeo wearing Gucci 2562S Sunglasses (Photo by Djamilla Rosa Cochran/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during 'Chanel' Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Arrivals at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during Opening of the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum at Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Ellen Pompeo at the Social Hollywood in Hollywood, California (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 06: Actress Ellen Pompeo arrives at the Madonna and Gucci Host 'A Night to Benefit Raising Malawi and UNICEF' at the United Nations on February 6, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 09: Actress Ellen Pompeo arrives for the 34th Annual People's Choice Awards - Arrivals held at Nokia Theater at L.A. Live on January 9, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Actress Ellen Pompeo attends the grand opening of Marquee Nightclub at Marquee Nightclub In The Cosmopolitan on December 30, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)' - Miranda continues to deal with the aftermath of Ben's reckless decisions and forms an advisory committee to recommend proper disciplinary action against him. Meanwhile, April and Jackson try to put their differences aside for the sake of their baby, and Arizona makes a decision that could affect her relationship with Callie forever, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, APRIL 14 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EDT) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Mitch Haaseth/ABC via via Getty Images)ELLEN POMPEO
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'The End is the Beginning is the End' - Meredith, Derek, Cristina and Arizona receive big news regarding the plane crash lawsuit, Richard avoids Catherine's romantic advances and Jackson takes on one of Mark Sloane's old patients. Meanwhile, Derek begins recovery on his hand, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, JANUARY 17 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Danny Feld/ABC via Getty Images) ELLEN POMPEO, SARAH DREW, SANDRA OH
PACIFIC PALISADES, CA - OCTOBER 06: Ellen Pompeo arrives at the 3rd Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic held at Will Rogers State Historic Park on October 6, 2012 in Pacific Palisades, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 11: Actress Ellen Pompeo arrives at Rihanna's First Annual Diamond Ball at The Vineyard on December 11, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Ellen Pompeo attends a private dinner hosted by VOGUE to celebrate TOD'S Creative Director Alessandra Facchinetti on November 5, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for TOD'S)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Actress Ellen Pompeo attends the 'Welcome to the Age of Cool' event hosted by Philosophy and Ellen Pompeo on September 22, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 03: Actress Ellen Pompeo attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on December 3, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Actress Ellen Pompeo is seen outside 'Good Morning America' on November 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)

A choked-up Pompeo continues, "So I gotta keep doing it, man. Because we're touching lives and making a difference."

Pompeo spoke about the show's impact in an interview with ET earlier this month.

"When you meet people [who] are going through things in their life and they say the show brings them solace and the show brings them comfort, whether they have cancer, whether they are an abuse victim, whether they're in a marginalized community -- even though it is a silly soap opera -- to know that you're really touching people and making people feel better, even if it's just because they're crying, it's meaningful," she said at the time. "As an actor, what we want to do is to tell stories and have those stories reach people."

"We are really, really touching people's lives. I see the effects of it everyday. I hear the stories. We really make a difference in people's lives," Pompeo added. "As an artist, to be able to touch people in a meaningful way, I don't take it for granted, that's for sure. I appreciate it."

The actress also shared that she and Shonda Rhimes, the show's creator, will "decide together" when the series will end, something she thinks will be an easy decision.

"I think the fans will let us know," she said. "When the numbers start to drop and people aren't watching the same, people aren't as passionate about it... it's time to call it."

While on Ellen, Pompeo also discusses her three children with husband Chris Ivery -- Stella, 9, Sienna, 4, and Eli, 1. Though she declines to pick a favorite kid -- "Ellen DeGeneres, don't you dare!" she exclaims after the host asks -- Pompeo does dish on how each child is smart in their own way.

"Stella's smart in that she knows how to go to her dad and get what she wants. Sienna's super smart because she'll just have a complete meltdown freak out and you'll give her whatever she wants to get her to shut up," Pompeo says. "Eli's super smart because he knows how to bat his eyes at you and you give him whatever he wants. Even though he can't speak, so he can't really ask for anything."

"They just all sound manipulative," DeGeneres says.

"Yes! Aren't all children? That's all they are is hungry, manipulative little creatures," Pompeo jokes. "They're always hungry and they always want everything."

"That's why I don't have them," DeGeneres quips.



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