Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Read at your own risk!
Only five episodes into the new season of Grey’s Anatomy and another cast member has already exited the long-running ABC medical drama.
EW can confirm that Thursday’s hour, which featured Nathan Riggs (Martin Henderson) and Megan Hunt (Abigail Spencer) moving away to Los Angeles, was Henderson’s final episode as a series regular.
“I loved that we were able to give Riggs a happy ending worthy of his character and talent,” executive producer Shonda Rhimes says. “As for Martin, this is not an ending for our relationship. He has been part of the Shondaland family since the pilot of Inside the Box and he will always be family. I can’t wait to find a new project to work with him on in the future.”
The unceremonious exit happened during an episode that included flashbacks to their time in the Army together when Megan was abducted. Viewers had long known Megan was presumed dead in a helicopter crash that happened just after she learned Riggs cheated on her — she found a necklace belonging to another woman in his bunk, which he used to propose before eventually coming clean — but what they didn’t know was that Megan also cheated on Riggs. Thus, it made sense that the duo would start anew, adultery be damned, in Los Angeles, where Megan longed to live by the beach once freed from captivity.
The timing of the exit, however, is a bit odd considering the show was setting up one of the most complicated love triangles yet. Just as Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) was finally opening herself up to a post-Derek dalliance with Riggs, Megan was found alive. Meredith immediately stepped out of the way, with the show ultimately flipping the trope of two women fighting over a man on its head: Both Mer and Megan were basically fighting for Riggs to be with the other. With Riggs gone, Meredith is back to step 1, the prospect of which did not seem to delight Meredith — an interesting direction for the show to take considering this has been a much “lighter, funnier, and sexier” season of Grey’s.
The exit also comes as Grey’s has gone through major changes in its ranks. Jerrika Hinton, Tessa Ferrer, and Marika Domińczyk all left after season 13, while Italian actress Stefania Spampinato joined the show as Andrew DeLuca’s sister. Spencer had joined the show in a recast of Bridget Regan, while Kim Raver reprised her role as Teddy Altman, who left the hospital in season 8. The show also introduced a new class of interns.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Read our postmortem with Kevin McKidd about Amelia and Owen’s breakup here.