Two of our beloved characters will be leaving Grey’s Anatomy at the end of the series’ current fourteenth season. Long-time series regulars, Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw will be the only cast members to be departing according to producers.
Sarah Drew portrays Dr. April Kepner. She made her debut on the show in the 6th season after the merging of both Seattle Grace and Mercy West hospitals. Due to budget cuts, her character was let go but returned when then chief of surgery, Derek Shepherd re-hired her. Dr. April Kepner was married to Dr. Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams), have since divorced and share a child.
Jessica Capshaw portrays Dr. Arizona Robbins. Her character is the Head of Fetal Surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial. Before the merger and name change, Robbins arrived at Seattle Grace Hospital in season 5 and formed a relationship with Ortho surgeon, Callie Torres. The couple married and raised the daughter that Callie shared with Dr. McSteamy, Mark Sloan. Both Mark and Arizona were severely injured in a plane crash leading to the amputation of Arizona’s leg and the death of Sloan. Callie and Arizona eventually divorce and fight for custody of their daughter Sophia.
Although there has been no official announcement from creator/EP Shonda Rhimes or showrunner Krista Vernoff as to whether the hit ABC series will be renewed for a 15th season, it is strongly assumed that there will be due to Ellen Pompeo signing on for another two years. Producers make decisions at the beginning of every season if a cast member is to be picked up.
The decision to let Drew and Capshaw go is said to have to do with the creative direction of the series and not due to Pompeo’s new deal giving her a signing bonus, ownership in the series, producing fees and a salary increase which will pay her approximately 20 million annually.
Kristen Vernoff had this to say regarding the departure.
“The characters of Arizona and April are permanently woven into the fabric of Grey’s Anatomy thanks to the extraordinary work of Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew … As writers, our job is to follow the stories where they want to go and sometimes that means saying goodbye to characters we love. It has been a joy and a privilege to work with these phenomenally talented actresses.”
Rhimes may have implied a potential return and touched on the cultural importance of April’s religious beliefs and Arizona being lesbian in the following statement:
“It’s always hard for me to say goodbye to any of my characters. Both Arizona Robbins and April Kepner are not only beloved but iconic — both the LBGTQ and devout Christian communities are underrepresented on TV. I will be forever grateful to both Jessica and Sarah for bringing these characters to life with such vibrant performance and for inspiring women around the globe. They will always be a part of our Shondaland family.”
So, the question that remains is how producers plan on handling the character exits. Will they leave Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital or will they be killed off? I guess we will just have to wait to find out as the remainder of the 14th season plays out in the next 2 months.
Grey’s Anatomy airs on Thursday nights at 8 pm on ABC.
Shannon Toohey is Editor-In-Chief of FanFest.com. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2015 with a B.A. in Journalism from the Lawrence Herbert School of Communications. Shannon has been a proud member of the Fan Fest team since 2013. Tweet her in your prettiest bird voice: @shannontoo