‘Grey’s Anatomy’ curse: Justin Chambers joins long list of casualties
Another original”Grey’s Anatomy” character has flatlined.
Sure, Justin Chambers’ surprise exit from ABCmedical drama has left fans reeling — but it is far from the first time they have been shocked by the abrupt departure of a superstar character.
Chambers’ Dr. Alex Karev was a staple of the series for 15 years, which originated in 2005 when the main characters were interns at a Seattle hospital. Now, only Dr. Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo, 50, remains among the original interns from the series made by Shonda Rhimes.
The 49-year-old actor announced he’d be leaving the series to pursue other gigs, though Page Six reports that the actor was also seeking treatment for”stress, depression and life-coaching,” according to a source. “There’s a lot going on with [‘Grey’s Anatomy’] behind the scenes at this time.”
But this season isn’t the only one with more drama than Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital’s boundaries. The series has seen an unusually high quantity of throw departures and eyebrow-raising scandals, many of which sent shock waves through the world of TV.
After all these years, the mounting losses have not done something to damage the show’s enduring viewership:”Grey’s Anatomy” is still the third-most watched series on network TV in the coveted 18 to 49 demo.
Here is a look back on the most high-profile departures in”Grey’s” history — that, should be noted, does not include Pompeo. She is now the highest-paid actress on a TV drama and is safely signed on for the upcoming season that is 17th of the show. But then again no one’s safe in Shondaland.
Heigl, 41, played Izzie Stevens on”Grey’s Anatomy” from 2005 to 2010 (winning an Emmy in 2007) and in her downtime, she became the queen of rom-coms, with movies such as”Knocked Up” (2007),”27 Dresses” (2008) and”The Ugly Truth” (2009). But the year after her Emmy win, she did not submit herself due to the quality of the writing.
After that contentious remark that is much-publicized, it was over. She reached an agreement to be released from her contract.
Izzie never officially died on the series, but her storylines became increasingly outlandish: getting cancer, getting fired from her job and divorcing Alex (Chambers). Heigl got a rep and has not recovered since.
In one of the biggest shockers, McDreamy himself got the axe. Dempsey, 53, was once one of the faces of the series, starring as Derek”McDreamy” Shepherd for 11 seasons (2005-2015). He was unceremoniously written off via a tragic car crash, leaving fans seriously McBummed.
Although he and Rhimes both openly stated they were cordial and that he wished to leave, co-star Ellen Pompeo later appeared on”Red Table Talk” where she explained,”We have not spoken since he has left the show.”
“I believe after a certain length of time, no matter how much money you make, you need control out of your own schedule,” he told People about his departure in 2015.
Ramirez, 44, who played Dr. Callie Torres for 11 seasons, allegedly surprised Rhimes herself when she announced her departure from the series in 2016. Rhimes told Vulture that this departure was distinct from all the others. Speaking at Vulture Festival that year, Rhimes said,”It was not a large, planned thing. I had a different plan going and Sara arrived and said,’I must take a break.’ ” She left after Season 12. By her moving to New York, As opposed to dying, Callie was written off.
In October 2006, backstage rumors surfaced that Washington, 56, who played surgeon Preston Burke, allegedly used a homophobic slur to refer to his co-star T.R. Knight in an argument with Dempsey. Knight came out publicly as gay following the incident, and an apology was issued by Washington.
On June 7, 2007, ABC announced it had decided not to renew the contract of Washington, and that he’d be dropped from the series — though he did return in 2014 for an episode. That one marked the departure of yet another high profile celebrity Sandra Oh, on the series, 48. As far as anyone knows, Oh left to pursue other opportunities.
Knight, 46, was cast as Dr. George O’Malley and appeared in Episode 1. O’Malley worked his way up from intern to resident, with a major romance with Izzie (Heigl). In 2009, two years after Isaiah Washington left the series after his comments regarding Knight,”Grey’s” composed Knight’s character out of the show.
The departure was slow and painful. Knight said he watched his character get less airtime. By that point, he and Rhimes were experiencing what he called a “breakdown in communication.” He was surprisingly candid in describing why he asked to leave the series.
“My five-year experience proved to me that I couldn’t trust any answer that has been given [about O’Malley],” he told Entertainment Weekly. “And with respect, I’m going to leave it at that.”
Smith, 52, was brought on the series in 2006 to play the workaholic attending surgeon — who was a lesbian. The character, Dr. Erica Hahn, sparked up a romance with Callie (Ramirez), leading up to a passionate (network TV!) kiss. She was booted from the series in 2008, allegedly in an effort to tone down the LGBTQ storylines on the show, according
Rhimes denied that Smith’s novelty was her reason for leaving the series — certainly”Grey’s Anatomy” has not shied away from queer characters, she pointed out. Nonetheless, the departure sent the message that it is”OK to be gay — not too gay,” said NPR’s TV critic Andrew Wallenstein.
Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew
One man’s ceiling would appear to be another man’s floor on”Grey’s Anatomy.” Jessica Capshaw, who had been on the medical drama for 10 seasons as Dr. Arizona Robbins, and Sarah Drew, who played Dr. April Kepner for fourteen days, were written out in the end of Season 14. The timing of the dual exit raised eyebrows as it coincided with star Ellen Pompeo signing a new two-year deal that paid as much as $20 million a year to her.