George's death ''touches everybody in the hospital,'' says series creator Shonda Rhimes. But life at Seattle Grace will go on. Here are four things you can expect from season 6. (Hint: A Mer-Der wedding is not one of them.)
Meredith Goes AWOL
''Ellen Pompeo is pregnant but Meredith is not,'' says Rhimes, who teases that she has a ''lovely story'' that will lead into the actress' maternity leave this fall. Additionally, she has plans for some ''really interesting stand-alone episodes'' to help fill the void left by her leading lady's upcoming absence. ''Eventually, everybody is going to leave the show,'' Rhimes says. ''So we're looking at [ways] we can mess with the structure now.... Season 6 is about finding the longevity of the show and figuring out if there is a future for this show beyond these characters.''
No White Wedding
Felt cheated by Mer-Der's unconventional Post-it note ''wedding'' in the season finale? Suck it up. ''Meredith in a big pouffy dress walking down an aisle really would feel like I was betraying everything that she was,'' maintains Rhimes. ''I love that their wedding is a Post-it note. Fans are going to have to come to terms with it.''
At Long Last, Love for Callie
After a string of botched romances with both genders, Callie seems poised for the real deal with Arizona (Jessica Capshaw, who has been promoted to full-time series regular). ''I would like to see Callie happily in a long-term relationship,'' says Rhimes. ''We have so much to explore with them, because we barely know anything about her.''
Izzie Faces Life After George
Heigl's Izzie will be brought back to life in the season opener only to find out that her best friend has died. ''It's not the same [on set]'' without Knight, admits Heigl. ''I don't think there was a person there who didn't love him.'' Post-grief, Rhimes will say only that Izzie's ''journey is going to be really interesting this season.''