While Grey’s Anatomy has made history as being the longest primetime drama in ABC’s history, it has seen a lot of its major characters go.
Well, to keep you up to date, we have compiled the top 10 major characters that have left the drama series and their reasons for leaving.
1. Dr. Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington)
This particular character gave the viewers of the show an epic but emotional goodbye from the show.
Washington allegedly used a homophobic slur on set. He didn’t stop there, he also used it backstage at the Golden Globes.
Despite tendering a public apology for his ‘unfortunate use of words’, it wasn’t enough to stop him from getting written out of the show at the end of season three. Although, he did return for one episode in season ten as part of Sandra Oh’s exit.
2. Dr. Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl)
Katherine’s character, Izzie, was loved until towards the end of her stay on the show when the viewers started to dislike her for her comments made to Meredith (Ellen Pompeo’s character) about this not being home but just someplace she worked? Harsh!
At first, Izzie walked away after she thought that Alex (Justin Chambers) got her fired.
She later returned to tell him about her new job and to show him she was cancer-free. It was a great moment to watch Alex stick up for himself and tell her that he deserved someone who would stay.
Meanwhile, the main reason she left the show was to focus on her family. She Digital Spy quoted her as saying:
“I started a family, and it changed everything. It changed my desire to work full-time. I went on family leave… and just got to be a mom, and it changed my whole perspective… that was really the turning point.”
3. Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey)
Patrick Dempsey’s character had the most shocking and heartbreaking exit from the show.
His character died in season 11, leaving fans shocked, especially since Patrick Dempsey had signed on for season 12.
However, according to him, he just felt that it was time to leave and thinks he probably should have left earlier.
Dempsey said: “It had been long enough. It was time for me to move on with other things and other interests. I stayed a bit longer than I should have.”
While many fans could agree that his stay was long, however, not many would agree that it had been enough.
4. Dr Mark Sloan (Eric Dane)
When Eric Dane’s character left Grey’s Anatomy, it was an emotional one. The plane crash that killed Lexie Grey also marked the end for Eric Dane’s Mark Sloan, although he at least appeared briefly in season nine.
And a complete episode was dedicated to him to compensate fans who wouldn’t be seeing him in the show, going forward.
Eric left so he could lead the new show The Last Ship. About the show, he said: “It was an opportunity for me to go and I was interested in something different. I loved doing Grey’s Anatomy. I would have done it until the final episode, but this was something I couldn’t pass up.”
5. Dr Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh)
Sandra Oh’s Cristina evolved in the show. Having been on the show since the beginning, she exited at the end of season ten and it was entirely her decision to go.
Speaking about leaving, Sandra said: “Creatively, I really feel like I gave it my all, and I feel ready to let her go,” she explained. “[Cristina] wants to be let go, and I am ready to let her go.”
6. Ben Warren (Jason George)
Like with Kate Walsh, Jason George left Grey’s Anatomy to take on a lead role in spin-off Station 19, however, he didn’t rule out guest appearances in the show’s future.
7. Dr Stephanie Edward (Jerrika Hinton)
Just like almost everyone who left, Jerrika Hinton left for a role in a new series, Here and No.
At first, she was just spending less time on Grey’s Anatomy after signing up to Shondaland’s Toast, but then that show never went ahead.
So, when Here and Now came, she decided to leave. “Shonda and I had a meeting at the beginning of season 13 where we talked about my departure and my creative process, and she was very supportive of my wishes,” Hinton noted while leaving.
8. Dr. Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams)
Jesse Williams’ character joined the Grey’s Anatomy show in season 6 as the hottest of those annoying Mercy West interns, however, it didn’t take long for him to become a beloved character.
Sadly, in Season 17, it was time to say goodbye to him. The show sent him off with a mission: e moved to Boston to run the Harper Avery Foundation in the hopes of making the world a better place.
9. Dr Alex Karev (Justin Chambers)
Justin Chambers announced that he was leaving the show — almost four months after his last physical appearance on the show. The producers found the perfect way to give his character, Alex Karev, a proper farewell episode.
Alex wrote letters to Meredith, Jo, Bailey, and Richard, explaining that he’d recently reconnected with Izzie and found out that, five years prior, she used their embryos to have twins. And so, the one-time bad boy decided to move to Kansas and be with Izzie and their two kids – Eli and Alexis.
10. Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith)
Brooke Smith’s Hahn was a talented heart surgeon, and yet the thing that drove her away from the hospital was matters of the heart – romance.
After Hahn’s “You can’t be kind of a lesbian” speech to Callie (Sara Ramirez), she literally just walked away from everything.
Latest Grey’s Anatomy news – Scott Speedman joins
According to EW, Scott Speedman has joined the show for the 18th season and he will be playing the character of Dr. Nick Marsh. The rumours first appeared after Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith ran into Marsh while she was on a trip to Minnesota. Speedman had previously appeared in an episode of the show’s 14th season when Meredith saved his kidney. Since then, he has not been on the show again, until now.
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