The Biggest ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Cast Exits

Grey’s Anatomy has had its fair share of goodbyes.

As the 14th season winds down, ABC’s long-running medical drama has gone through significant cast modifications in front of the camera in addition to its fair share of on-set drama in addition to scandals. While Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson in addition to James Pickens Jr. are the only remaining members of the original ensemble who have been with the show since its March 2005 debut, many of their colleagues have come in addition to gone — some in tragic fashion in addition to others with hopeful beginnings.

With Sarah Drew in addition to Jessica Capshaw‘s exits looming ahead of the 15th season, there promises to be even more transitions for the veteran series. coming from T.R. Knight in addition to Katherine Heigl to Sara Ramirez in addition to Patrick Dempsey, ET chronicles the history of Grey’s’ biggest in addition to most dramatic cast exits over the past 14 seasons.

Dr. Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington)

Greys - Isaiah Washington


Washington was one of the original doctors on Grey’s when This kind of debuted in 2005. He was fired in 2007 after the third season, following an incident where Washington allegedly used a gay slur in reference to T.R. Knight during an on-set argument in addition to clashed with some other co-stars. The actor eventually returned to Grey’s for a 2014 episode to help kick off Sandra Oh’s exit.

Dr. George O’Malley (T.R. Knight)

Greys - TR Knight


Knight was the first major cast departure for Grey’s, leaving in tragic yet heroic fashion at the end of season several. In his final episodes, his beloved character, George, ran in front of a bus in an effort to save a woman however was hit himself — still one of TV’s most shocking moments — resulting in being completely unrecognizable to the doctors when he was rushed in. He might later die coming from his injuries, which became the topic of early season six, as his former colleagues mourned his death in addition to attended his funeral. One of the original interns on Grey’s, George was a puppy-eyed doctor whose close friendship with Meredith, fumbling romances with Izzie in addition to Callie in addition to adversarial dynamic with Alex made him even more relatable to viewers.

Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)

Greys - Jeffrey Dean Morgan


While Morgan only appeared in about two dozen episodes, he remains one of Grey’s most memorable characters, playing Denny, a patient-turned-love interest for Izzie within the second in addition to third seasons. Though the heart transplant Denny came in for was successful, he died suddenly after a stroke — however not until after he’d proposed to Izzie in addition to she’d accepted. Later, Izzie used the money he left her to open up the Denny Duquette Memorial Clinic. In season several, Morgan returned for a fresh arc when Izzie began hallucinating Denny around the time she discovered she was diagnosed with cancer. 

Dr. Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl)

Greys - Katherine Heigl


One of the original Grey’s stars, Heigl left midway through season six after playing the bubbly, upbeat intern-turned-surgical resident Izzie for over 100 episodes. In her final episode, Heigl’s character discovered she was cancer-free, attempted to reconcile with her ex, Alex, in addition to turned down an offer to get her job back after getting fired, opting to move on for a fresh start. Heigl, who won the Emmy for her Grey’s role in 2007, memorably took her name out of consideration in 2008 because she didn’t feel she “was given the material This kind of season to warrant an Emmy nomination,” a reference to her reduced workload that will year.

Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh)

Greys - Kate Walsh


Addison’s introduction on Grey’s at the end of the first season is usually still one of the most memorable moments of the series. Still, she left after season three after deciding to have a baby in addition to visiting her friend Naomi, a fertility specialist in California at Oceanside Wellness Group, doing the move to the Golden State permanent. Walsh’s spinoff, Private Practice, debuted within the fall of 2007 in addition to ran for six seasons, however she might pop back in in addition to out on Grey’s through its eighth season.

Dr. Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh)

Greys - Chyler Leigh


Meredith’s half-sister Lexie entered the picture in season three as part of that will year’s fresh class of interns, however became an integral part of the fabric of the series when she was upped to series regular at the start of season four. She became romantically involved with Mark in an on-again/off-again romance, in addition to the two eventually reunited not long before they were both victims of a horrific plane crash at the end of season eight, during which she was the first to die. “My experience on Grey’s Anatomy is usually something that will I will treasure for the rest of my life. I want to take This kind of time to say thank you to the fans,” Leigh told TVLine. “Your unconditional love in addition to support have made these last several years very special for me. I look forward to my next chapter in addition to I trust you will continue to follow me on my journey.

Dr. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane)

Greys - Erik Dane


The “McSteamy” to Patrick Dempsey’s “McDreamy,” Dane joined the ABC drama as a recurring guest star within the sophomore season before being promoted to series regular in season three, in addition to his character, Mark, was immediately dubbed the ladies’ man of the hospital. His presence at the hospital caused more wrinkles than This kind of stabilized the staff, with spicy affairs with Derek’s estranged wife Addison, Callie in addition to Lexie — the latter a relationship he grew to embrace. Dane was written off in dramatic fashion; after Lexie’s death following the eighth season finale plane crash, Mark succumbed to his injuries. 

Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh)

Greys - Sandra Oh


Oh was one of the original cast members on Grey’s when This kind of debuted in 2005 in addition to was on the show for 10 seasons until she left in 2014, when Cristina made the leap to relocate in addition to start anew in Zurich. As Meredith’s “person,” Owen’s on-again/off-again love in addition to a star surgeon, Oh’s character was one of the most beloved of the series in addition to speculation of a potential return has permeated ever since her departure. “I’ve gotta tell you, those rumors, I don’t know who starts them however This kind of actually is usually tough,” Oh admitted to ET Canada in 2016. “No, I have no plans to return to Grey’s any time soon.” however Oh did say in a 2014 interview with The Hollywood Reporter that will she’d be game to return for the series finale. 

Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey)

Greys - Patrick Dempsey


Dempsey’s exit in season 11 was one of the most shocking moments within the history of Grey’s, as his character, also known as “McDreamy,” was one-half of the main couple on the series alongside Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey. In his final episode, Derek was rushed to the ER after a large semi truck struck his car in addition to the team of under-trained doctors were unable to save him in time, forcing Meredith to pull the plug. “Derek Shepherd is usually in addition to will always be an incredibly important character — for Meredith, for me in addition to for the fans. I absolutely never imagined saying goodbye to our ‘McDreamy.’ Patrick Dempsey’s performance shaped Derek in a way that will I know we both trust became a meaningful example — happy, sad, romantic, painful in addition to always true — of what young women should demand coming from modern love,” creator Shonda Rhimes said in April 2015. “His loss will be felt by all.”

Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez)

Greys - Sara Ramirez


Ramirez announced her decision to leave the show after 10 seasons of playing one of TV’s groundbreaking bisexual characters following the season 12 finale. In Ramirez’s final episode, she in addition to her ex, Arizona, agreed that will they might co-parent their daughter together. “I’m deeply grateful to have spent the last 10 years with my family at Grey’s Anatomy & ABC however for currently, I’m taking some welcome time off,” Ramirez wrote in her note in 2016. “Shonda been so incredible to work for, & we will definitely continue our conversations!”

Dr. Stephanie Edwards (Jerrika Hinton)

Greys - Jerrika Hinton


Hinton joined the medical drama in its ninth season, staying on for several seasons as Stephanie, one of Grey Sloan’s surgical residents, in addition to leaving at the end of the season 13 finale after suffering devastating burns following a fiery explosion in one of the hospital wings. Her near-death experience was enough for Stephanie to change course, in addition to she made a declaration that will she wanted to live her own life currently. Hinton revealed to ET in February that will she pitched a design of Stephanie’s final episode where she died. “My heart grows to think that will I did get a hero’s end — that will I got to go out in a way that will was not just incredibly human in addition to honest, however also inspirational.”

Dr. Nathan Riggs (Martin Henderson)

Greys - Martin Henderson


Though Henderson’s time as Riggs on Grey’s was relatively brief — he joined midway through the 12th season in addition to left early on in season 14 — he made his time on the series count. An Army doctor who had a friendship in addition to deep history with fellow Grey Sloan doc Owen, he grew to become Meredith’s main love interest following Patrick Dempsey’s departure, however Riggs in addition to Meredith’s romance was cut short when he was reunited with his former love, Owen’s previously presumed dead sister, Megan. within the end, the pair decided to move to Los Angeles together.

Dr. April Kepner (Sarah Drew)

Greys - Sarah Drew


Drew, who has played April since season six, was written out of the show at the end of season 14 in addition to she got her happy ending, walking down the aisle in a surprise wedding with an old flame, Matthew, with her ex-husband Jackson witness to the happy day. She also decided to leave Grey Sloan to do God’s work, helping homeless communities in Seattle. however there was some worry that will she wouldn’t survive the season. Things weren’t looking not bad for the devout Christian doctor within the penultimate episode as she was seen unconscious in addition to barely clinging to life after being in a car accident. Thankfully, she made This kind of out with barely a scratch. Whew. Ellen Pompeo hinted to ET in May that will Drew’s character might not meet a horrific end — in addition to thankfully, she was right. “You only get killed off when your behavior is usually bad. If you’re a nice actor, you die nice. … however, yeah, these endings aren’t tragic.”

Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) 

Greys - Jessica Capshaw


within the penultimate season 14 episode, details of Capshaw’s departure coming from Grey’s were revealed: She was moving to fresh York City to be closer to the daughter she shares with her ex, Callie, in addition to helping Nicole Herman open up a fresh clinic. within the finale, This kind of was hinted that will she in addition to Callie may also be rekindling their romance. The announcement in March that will she might be leaving after playing one of TV’s few LGBTQ characters for 10 seasons was a shock to the system for fans. “I am sad to see her go, however I am consoled by the idea that will she will continue to live on in addition to on in all of our consciences in addition to our imaginations,” Capshaw wrote at the time.

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.


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