Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw are going to exit Grey’s Anatomy at the end of season 14, EW has confirmed.
Capshaw initially joined the show as Arizona Robbins in season 5 before becoming a series regular in season 6. Drew joined the show in season 6 as April Kepner, a transfer from Mercy West, later being upped to series regular in season 7.
“It’s always hard for me to say goodbye to any of my characters,” Grey’s creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes says of the fan-favorite 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.”
Executive producer Krista Vernoff adds: “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.”
According to Deadline, which was the first to report the news, the decision was made by the producers ahead of the potential 15th season. The show has not yet been officially renewed. The decision seems to be a surprise to at least Drew, who posted a message to her fans on Twitter shortly after the news broke.
“Thank you for all of the love,” she wrote. “I know you’re sad. I’m sad too. I haven’t really had the time to process this information. I’ve been with it for less than 48 hours, so I’m not ready to say my thank yous and give an all encompassing statement about my 9 years here. That will come later. For now, I’d like to say: I love you, and I love April, and her story isn’t over yet. And the really good news (for me, at least) is that I’m here on set shadowing one of my favorite people, Kevin McKidd, with my beloved Grey’s family all this week and next, so I get to process all of my feelings surrounded by the community that has nourished and nurtured me for almost a decade. For that, I am grateful.”
Capshaw also posted a message on Twitter. “For the past 10 years, I have had the rare privilege of not only playing Arizona Robbins, but also being madly in love with playing her. Arizona Robbins is kind, intelligent, funny, insightful, bold, playful, fierce and really good at her job. She was one of the first members of the LGBTQ community to be represented in a series regular role on network television. Her impact on the world is permanent and forever. Forever. I am grateful that I have gotten to bring her to life and for the life that she has brought to me. I am sad to see her go, but I am consoled by the idea that she will continue to live on and on in all of our consciences and our imaginations. Shonda, thank you for the ride on this incredible rollercoaster. With a heart full of love, Jessica.”
The news comes on the heels of Ellen Pompeo signing a new deal for a potential season 15 and 16. In recent years, Grey Sloan has seen much turnover. Sandra Oh exited during season 10; Patrick Dempsey’s character was killed off in season 11; Sara Ramirez, whose Callie Torres was previously married to Arizona, left in season 12; and Jerrika Hinton exited ahead of season 14.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.