Another Grey’s Anatomy Discharge: Charting the ABC Hit’s Leading Cause of Series Regular Departure


Gray’s Anatomy misplaced one other one.

Two seasons after becoming a member of the long-running ABC hit as a quasi-replacement for Patrick Dempsey, Martin Henderson checked out of Gray Sloan Memorial for good, along with his character Nathan Riggs operating off to Los Angeles (giving us shades of Addison Montgomery) now that he’d been reunited along with his long-lost (and presumed useless) love, Megan Hunt. Whereas the departure got here as a shock, maybe what was most stunning was that Riggs was provided a contented ending as he was written out of the sequence. As followers of Gray’s know all too properly, Shonda Rhimes would not hand these out all too typically.

As we are saying goodbye to Riggs (and Henderson’s Kiwi beauty), we’re trying again on all of the methods Gray’s has gotten rid of predominant characters over time. And the main reason for departure simply might shock you…

Grey's Anatomy Exits, Pie Chart

ABC; Melissa Hebeler/E! Illustration

As you possibly can see within the chart above, with Riggs’ transfer down south, there’s now a tie for main reason for departure between useless and moved when the Gray’s Anatomy writers write a predominant character out of the sequence. In fact, on the useless facet, we’ve got T.R. Knight‘s George O’Malley, who was the present’s first sequence common to die, after George was shockingly hit by a bus within the season 5 finale. Knight stated he requested to be written out after a gradual “breakdown of communication” between Rhimes and himself that started with former co-star Isaiah Washington (extra about his departure in a second) used a homosexual slur on set in reference to Knight and was subsequently fired, which led to a scarcity of display time and stress towards his popping out of the closet.  “There simply comes a time when it is so clear that transferring on is one of the best determination,” he instructed Leisure Weekly on the time. Rhimes disputed Knight’s claims, particularly that she pressured him to remain within the closet. “”I stated, ‘If you wish to come out, that is superior. We’ll completely help that.’ After which he went away, thought of it, and got here again and stated, ‘I will make this assertion,'” she instructed the journal.

The nest main predominant character deaths would come courtesy of season eight’s huge aircraft crash, which claimed the lives of each Chyler Leigh‘s Lexie and Eric Dane‘s Sloan. As Leigh instructed E! Information on the time, she’d determined season eight could be her final. “I met with Shonda and we labored collectively to present Lexie’s story applicable closure,” she stated. Rhimes echoed that on Twitter, writing, “We had a whole lot of considerate dialogue about it and finally we each determined this was the fitting time for her character’s journey to finish.”

Dane’s destiny was stored up within the air all summer season lengthy, although his departure from the sequence had already been introduced. In July of 2012, Dane and Rhimes confirmed his impending exit, with Rhimes telling TVLine that the actor “didn’t come to this determination calmly, however after a lot consideration and conversations, he and I’ve determined that that is the fitting time for his storyline to finish.” He appeared in two episodes of season 9 earlier than his character succumbed to his accidents and handed away.

The present’s subsequent predominant character loss of life, arguably its largest one ever, would come two seasons later when Patrick Dempsey‘s Derek Shepherd was killed off in a stunning vogue after 11 seasons because the present’s male lead. After rescuing stranded motorists from a automobile accident proper earlier than their automobile exploded, Derek stopped briefly in his automobile to reply the cellphone and was struck by a semi-truck and declared mind useless earlier than Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) might get to the hospital to say goodbye. Dempsey had been vocal about wanting to depart the sequence, however had simply signed a brand new two-year deal to maintain him on the present by season 12, so Derek’s loss of life actually got here out of nowhere (regardless of being spoiled 30 minutes earlier than the episode aired). “It simply form of advanced. It simply form of occurred,” he instructed EW on the time. “[Being written off] was one thing that was form of stunning and uh, simply naturally got here to be. I like the best way it has all performed out.

For Rhimes, killing Derek was the one manner she might see a future for the present with out Dempsey on it. “The choice to have the character die the best way that he did was not a tough one within the sense of what had been the choices?” she instructed reporters on the 2015 Summer season TCA press tour. “Both Derek was going to stroll out on Meredith, and depart her excessive and dry, and what was that going to imply? That was going to counsel that the love was not true, the factor we had stated for 11 years was a lie and McDreamy wasn’t McDreamy. For me, that was untenable…As a result of I actually could not have the concept that he simply turned out to be a nasty man who walked out on his spouse and children be a real story. To me, it felt like that was the one solution to make Meredith and Derek’s magic stay true and ceaselessly frozen in time.”

The primary predominant character who acquired to easily transfer away, normally for some form of glad ending, was Sandra Oh‘s Cristina Yang. One other OG solid member like Dempsey, Oh introduced forward of the season 10 premiere that the season could be her final, giving followers time to say goodbye to the character. “Creatively, I actually really feel like I gave it my all, and I really feel able to let her go,” she instructed THR on the time. “It is such an fascinating factor to play a personality for therefore lengthy and to really get the sense that she desires to be let go as properly. [Cristina] desires to be let go, and I’m able to let her go. Now we have to begin the method, story-wise, for the Gray’s writers to think about why she’s going to go.”

Rhimes would finally ship Cristina off to Zurich, Switzerland, the place Preston Burke (Washington), the person who as soon as left her on the altar, was operating a hospital and in search of his alternative, providing her his job as head of the hospital. And in her departure, she took Gaius Charles‘ Shane Ross along with her. 

Sara Ramirez‘s Callie Torres would get the following transfer, on the finish of season 12, when she determined to observe her girlfriend Penny throughout the nation to NYC. “I am deeply grateful to have spent the final 10 years with my household at Gray’s Anatomy & ABC however for now I am taking some welcome day without work,” Ramirez tweeted the evening her remaining episode aired. “Shonda’s been so unbelievable to work for and we will certainly proceed our conversations! I ship my Like to Ellen, the remainder of the solid & crew, and I sit up for at all times being part of the Shondaland household!”

Grey's Anatomy Exits and Seasons, Graph

ABC; Melissa Hebeler/E! Illustration

Whereas different characters had been written out by both being fired (Kim Raver‘s Teddy and Tessa Ferrer‘s Murphy), quitting (Jerrika Hinton‘s Edwards and Brooke Smith‘s Hahn), or, within the case of fortunate Kate Walsh, whose character Addison landed her personal present, being spun-off, there was one methodology of departure that Rhimes seemingly reserves for less than her most tense actor-creator relationships. We’re speaking concerning the Burke and Izzie’s (Katherine Heigl) full and utter ghosting.

After Washington discovered himself persona non grata amongst a lot of the solid in the course of the third season when a rumor surfaced that he’d referred to still-closeted Knight by a crass homosexual slur throughout an argument with Washington, he made issues worse again stage on the 2007 Golden Globes after the present gained Finest Drama when, fielding press inquiries, he stated, “”No, I didn’t name T.R. a f—-t.” Within the season three finale, Burke would depart Cristina on the altar, taking all his belongings from their residence, and never be seen or heard from for fairly a while due to ABC’s determination to terminate him in June. He would later reprise his function throughout Oh’s farewell season, with Burke popping as much as provide Cristina her glad ending.

The start of Heigl’s finish got here when, after the 2008-09 season, she refused to submit herself for Emmy consideration, claiming she did not really feel the fabric she’d obtained warranted a nomination. Whereas Rhimes downplayed the slight, many anticipated that Heigl could be killed off when Izzie was identified with Stage four metastatic melanoma. She would survive and marry Alex (Justin Chambers), solely to return very sporadically in season six, lastly requesting to be launched from her contract 18 months early. The final phrases she would ever utter on digital camera had been in response to Meredith asking her to not depart, reminding her that is her dwelling. “No it is not,” she says. “Not anymore. It is only a place I labored and I can try this anyplace.”

Through the years, Heigl would flip flop on whether or not she was open to returning to the sequence to supply some closure to the character, initially telling MTV in 2010 that it will “simply really feel manipulative.” She modified her tune in 2012, nevertheless, telling E! Information, “I instructed them I need to…I actually, actually, actually need to see the place [Izzie] is. I simply need to know what occurred to her and the place she went and what she’s doing now.” 

Rhimes, nevertheless, is not right here for it. “No,” she instructed TVLine in 2015. “I am achieved with that story. I’ve turned that concept over in my thoughts a thousand occasions and thought of how it will go. And I do not assume so.”

For extra laborious information on the numerous main Gray’s exits over time (15 in whole!), together with the typical size of keep for a sequence common, you’ll want to try our helpful charts above!

Gray’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at eight p.m. on ABC.



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