Grey’s Anatomy star Sara Ramirez — whose character mended fences with her ex-wife with an eye toward leaving for New York during Thursday’s season 12 finale – is leaving the show, EW has learned.
At a time when most of the core cast is renegotiating their contracts on the long-running drama, Ramirez announced Thursday that she’s “taking some welcome time off” from playing Dr. Callie Torres. Her deal on the show, which she joined in season 2, ends this month.
“I’m deeply grateful to have spent the last 10 years with my family at Grey’s Anatomy and ABC, but for now I’m taking some welcome time off,” said Ramirez in a statement. “Shonda’s been so incredible to work for, and we will definitely continue our conversations! I send my love to Ellen, the rest of the cast and crew, and I look forward to always being a part of the Shondaland family!”
Creator Shonda Rhimes also released a goodbye note: “Dr. Callie Torres came into our lives dancing it out in her underwear almost a decade ago, and I could not be happier or more proud of her journey. Sara Ramirez’s performance inspired me as well as millions of fans each week. We wish her the best on her well-deserved time off. I will miss Callie tremendously, but am excited for what the future holds for Sara. She will always have a home at Shondaland.”
Ramirez also has the support of her Grey‘s costar Jessica Capshaw (Arizona Robbins), who tweeted about the departure Monday. “Congrats on 10 incredible years! I wish @SaraRamirez the very best & I celebrate what Callie has given to all of us,” she wrote.
In April, Ramirez prompted speculation about her future on ABC’s most-watched drama when she posted a cryptic tweet on her last day on the set. “That’s a wrap for Doctor #CallieTorrries #Season13 #Grey’s Anatomy,” she wrote. “Thank you all for an enriching & unforgettable #rollercoaster ride!”
The news of her departure comes at time when five of her costars — Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson, Justin Chambers, James Pickens Jr., and Kevin McKidd — are also renegotiating their contracts.
When she first joined the show, Ramirez was introduced as an orthopedic surgeon and initial love interest for George O’Malley (T. R. Knight). Callie went on to explore relationships with women, becoming a beacon of hope for the LGBT community as a bisexual character. Callie eventually had Mark Sloan’s (Eric Dane) baby and married (and then divorced) Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) before dating Penny (Samantha Sloyan), who scored a grant that took her to the East Coast — resulting in an emotional custody battle and subsequent breakup.
During Thursday’s season finale, Arizona saw how much her ex-wife Callie was struggling in the wake of losing both her daughter and her girlfriend, so she offered joint custody and bought her plane tickets to New York. They had done this wrong, Arizona said; both of Sofia’s mothers deserved to be happy. The scene now serves as a swan song for Ramirez, who will no longer be a series regular as the Shonda Rhimes drama heads into season 13. But based on the statement above from Ramirez, it sounds like she hasn’t closed the door completely on the character.
Callie’s exit will certainly break some hearts, especially those in the Calzona camp. Surely some fans will have seen Arizona’s peace offering as the first step toward reconciliation. Rhimes has previously said she wanted to explore seeing Arizona and Callie happy on their own, and both have made strides in that department, at least professionally; Arizona has become even an more prestigious pediatric surgeon, and Callie found success with technology that provides robotic limbs to amputees. Before the custody battle, they had also managed to mend their relationship, turning it into a friendship of mutual respect and understanding.
Back in season 11, Rhimes still had high hopes for the couple to someday reconcile. “I am still a staunch believer that they can figure it out,” Rhimes told EW. “I’m not saying they’re going to, but I am one of their fans as a couple because I love their story together. I love who they are together. I want them to work out their crap and get it together.” Should Ramirez elect to return someday, perhaps they will.
Grey’s Anatomy will return this fall on ABC. In the meantime, read our postmortem with Camilla Luddington on that Jo Wilson reveal here, our postmortem with Caterina Scorsone and Kevin McKidd on Amelia and Owen’s future here, and our postmortem with Ellen Pompeo and Kelly McCreary on that love triangle reveal here.