Another “Grey’s Anatomy” Cast Member Leaving – Where Are They Now?

Grey’s Anatomy is one of the most popular and longest-running medical dramas in the US. With 17 seasons in, it’s no secret that the drama has seen its fair share of cast changes over the course of 15 years.

SPOILER ALERT — It was revealed that cast member is leaving on the May 20th episode. Who is it? And how will they go? Keep reading

Some endings in the show were abrupt via heartbreaking deaths or rather drawn out in complicated plotlines. But whatever the case, many characters and cast members have come and gone and come back — much to the surprise of many Grey’s fans.

Whether you’re a longtime fan or just catching up to the episodes as they air, you may be wondering what past cast members are up to now. Check out our list.

And, needless to say, there will be spoilers!

Jackson Avery, Jesse Williams

We could have listed all the other cast who left first, and where are they now, but the big news this week was the Jesse Williams is departing the hit ABC medical drama after 12 seasons. The episode will air on May 20.

“Jesse Williams is an extraordinary artist and activist. Watching his evolution these past 11 years both on screen and off has been a true gift,” Grey’s Anatomy executive producer/showrunner Krista Vernoff said in a statement to Deadline.

Williams, who has moved from acting into directing and producing, is off to work on new personal projects. His departure WILL mean the return of another beloved character. Keep reading to find out who it is.

But first, let’s look at some of the the other gone-but-not-forgotten favorite characters and cast members.

Izzie Stevens, Katherine Heigl

Izzie was one of the original surgical interns and main cast members from the first season. In the fifth season, she was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma (Stage IV) which spread to her liver, skin and brain. Izzie made her final appearance in the sixth season, leaving Seattle after Alex Karev refused to stay married. 

Photo: Shutterstock

Rumors of unrest between Katherine Heigl and production swirled as the fifth season started to air. Heigl requested to be released from her contract 18 months early in order to spend more time with her family. Heigl has continued to act in both TV series and movies. 

She is currently getting rave reviews for her role in Netflix’s Firefly Lane

Denny Duquette, Jeffrey Dean Morgan 

Denny was once a heart patient at Seattle Grace and a love interest for Izzie Stevens. As he spent more time in the hospital, he and Izzie pursued their romantic relationship. Before going into surgery for a heart transplant, he proposed to Izzie. In a heartbreaking goodbye, he survived the surgery only to die of a stroke the night after. 

Photo: Shutterstock

After saying goodbye to Grey’s, Jeffrey moved on to star in several TV series and movies, his more notable roles include:

  • Jason Crouse in The Good Wife
  • JD Richter in Extant
  • Negan in The Walking Dead (currently airing) 

Preston Burke, Isaiah Washington

Preston Burke was introduced in the first season as the Chief of Cardiothoracic surgery and became romantically involved with intern Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh). His medical career was threatened when he was shot and his right hand’s nerve supply was disrupted, making him unable to perform surgery. 

In season 3, he left Cristina at the altar during their wedding in a dramatic sendoff. He makes one final appearance in season ten, where he invites Cristina to run his hospital in Switzerland so that he can spend more time with his family. 

Photo: Shutterstock

Washington became the subject of a production controversy during the show’s third season, where he allegedly insulted co-star T.R. Knight with a homophobic slur during an argument with Patrick Dempsey. ABC announced that they wouldn’t renew his contract. Since his dismissal, he has played Chancellor Jaha in CW series The 100 through its fifth season.

Christina Yang, Sandra Oh

Christina was first introduced in the pilot as a surgical intern and was one of the main cast members for the first ten seasons. She was a favorite among many fans for her blunt humor and strongwilled character. 

In an effort to advance her career, she accepts an offer to be the head of a hospital opened by Preston Burke. She leaves at the end of season 10 for Zurich, Switzerland. 

Photo: Shutterstock

Sandra Oh originally auditioned for the role of Miranda Bailey, but was offered the role of Christina Yang instead. She now stars in Killing Eve, a spy thriller TV series. She plays Eve Polastri, a British intelligence investigator sent to capture psychopathic assassin Villanelle. They develop a mutual obsession as the chase goes on. 

Oh has gone on to achieve many milestones, including being: 

  • The first Asian-Canadian woman to host Saturday Night Live
  • The first Asian woman to host the Golden Globes (2019) 
  • The first actress of Asian descent to be nominated for an Emmy award for Lead Actress in a Drama Series
  • The first Asian woman to win two Golden Globes 

Derek Shepherd, Patrick Dempsey

Derek Shepherd, best known as “McDreamy,” was the longtime boyfriend and eventual husband of Meredith. First appearing in the pilot, Derek comes to Seattle Grace as the new Head of Neurosurgery. 

After starting a family with Meredith, he continues to pursue his career, eventually accepting a position at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D, C. As he gets ready to settle down and is on his way to his final business trip, he gets into a fatal car accident in season eleven. In a heartbreaking send-off, he succumbs to his injuries and is declared brain dead at an understaffed hospital where Meredith takes him off life support. 

Photo: YouTube

After his departure from Grey’s Anatomy, Dempsey talked about wanting something different, whether it be producing content or doing a show that was only 10 episodes long. He mainly wanted to focus on his family and his favorite past time — auto racing. Dempsey announced his return to TV with CBS’ Ways & Means, where he played a congressional leader. 

But this wasn’t the end of Dempsey and Grey’s — and if you haven’t seen the current season you may want to skim past this next bit of info.

The Return of McDreamy

The season 17 premiere of Grey’s Anatomy ended with a shocking twist: Derek Shepherd — yep, McDreamy — made a comeback.

How It Happened

When Meredith passes out in the hospital parking lot at the very end of the episode (She’s got the coronavirus.), viewers are taken into her dream state. ou hear and then see Derek, which has fans worried that Meredith may die in this season. (Nothing has backed up that theory yet, but Pompeo is a producer on the show.)

It’s unclear how long Dempsey will stick around, but there are rumors that more appearances are in the cards. 

But Derek wasn’t the only dead character to return this year…

George O’Malley, T.R. Knight

Introduced in the first season as one of the original surgical interns at Seattle Grace Hospital, O’Malley eventually worked up to resident level with his peers. 

George abruptly decides to join the U.S. Army in Iraq, surprising all his coworkers and friends. While they prepare to stage an intervention to get him to stay, they receive a special John Doe case. The patient was a man who had dove in front of a bus to push a woman out of the way, saving her life and causing him to get dragged under the vehicle. 

As his friends unknowingly work to save his life, he writes “007” on Meredith’s hand, which was his infamous nickname. Then, they find out that the patient really is George. During surgery, he flatlines and is pronounced dead.

T.R. Knight became the subject of press attention following an on-set argument between Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey. There, Washington allegedly insulted Knight with a homophobic slur. The incident prompted Knight to publicly come out as gay. After the incident, rumors swirled about Knight’s departure from the series, and he was soon confirmed not to return after the sixth season. 

He explained his reasoning as a breakdown in communication with showrunner Shonda Rhimes, lack of screen time and his decision to come out. Since his time on Grey’s, he’s starred on Broadway and been in several movies and TV series. His newest role is in the upcoming miniseries about former FBI director James Comey called A Higher Loyalty. 

Oh, but that wasn’t the last time he was on Grey’s, either…

The Return of George

Like with Derek’s return, Meredith’s time passed out in the hospital brought another beach reunion in the form of George O’Malley, an original season 1 cast member. In the scene are also original (and still living) cast members Richard (James Pickens Jr.) and Bailey (Chandra Wilson).

“It was incredible, it was just an overwhelming feeling of love in that moment,” Knight told Deadline. “We were apart from everybody quite a bit because that was a drone shot, and so it was just the four of us, and the sun was setting, and this big fly buzzing around our heads, and it filled me with just a lot of joy.”

Who else from the old cast will show up? We’ll have to wait until March to see.

Addison Montgomery, Kate Walsh

Addison is introduced in the season one finale when she comes to Seattle. She was once married to Derek Shepherd, but they decided to separate once career conflicts came into play and Addison cheated on Derek with his best friend. While she made guest appearances after her main story wrapped up, she became the focus of the spin-off series, Private Practice. 

Photo: Kate Walsh, Twitter

Since leaving Grey’s and finishing Private Practice, Kate Walsh has been in numerous movies, TV series and commercials. Most recently, she played the distraught mother of Hannah Baker, a teen who commits suicide, on the Netflix hit 13 Reasons Why, “The Handler” on the superhero series The Umbrella Academy, and is returning to season 2 of Emily in Paris. She recently told People that she would “absolutely” reprise her role as Dr. Addison Montgomery on the hit ABC series — it changed her life.

Callie Torres, Sarah Ramirez

Callie was first introduced in season two as a senior orthopedic resident and eventually became an attending orthopedic surgeon. Her character made TV history as the longest-running LGBT character by appearing in 11 seasons and 239 episodes. Callie’s storyline primarily explored her bisexuality. In the twelfth season finale, Callie leaves to go to New York with her daughter. 

Photo: Shutterstock

Since leaving Grey’s, Sarah Ramirez has spent time on two different TV series. She voiced Queen Miranda in the animated series Sofia the First and starred as Kat Sandoval in Madam Secretary. 

Mark Sloan, Eric Dane

Mark Sloan was first introduced in season two as Derek Shepherd’s best friend. He was also the one who caused the end of Derek’s marriage by sleeping with his then-wife, Addison Montgomery. He eventually moved to Seattle Grace and received the name “McSteamy” for his good looks. He sustained life-threatening injuries in a plane crash, surviving the incident before eventually succumbing to his injuries and dying in the ninth season. 

Photo: Eric Dane, TwitterAfter leaving Grey’s, Eric Dane starred in The Last Ship, an action-drama TV series that lasted four seasons. He now stars in HBO’s Euphoria as Cal Jacobs, a father hiding secrets from his family. 

Lexie Grey, Chyler Leigh

Lexie Grey was first introduced in season three as Meredith’s younger paternal half-sister. She was transferred to Seattle Grace Hospital as the new surgical intern. She became one of the main characters starting in season four. 

Much of her storylines focused on navigating her relationship with Meredith and her romantic relationship with Mark Sloan. In the eighth season finale, she and Sloan sustained fatal injuries in a shocking plane crash. Seattle Grace Mercy West was then renamed Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital in their memory. 

Leigh (left in photo) in 2019. Shutterstock.

Chyler Leigh exited the show, citing her desire to spend more time with her family. She now stars as Alex Danvers on superhero series Supergirl. She also makes music with her husband Nathan West under the name “WestLeigh.”

Arizona Robbins, Jessica Capshaw

Arizona was introduced in the fifth season as an attending surgeon. While she was only set to appear in three episodes, her contract was extended and she became a series regular in the sixth season. She became the main love interest for Callie Torres and soon became a fan favorite.

Arizona remained in the show even after Callie left. It wasn’t until season 14 that Arizona leaves for New York, where it is implied they reconcile. 

In 2018, Jessica Capshaw was one of two to be fired from the show for “creative reasons” on cast changes. The exit was shocking for many.  What were those reasons?

Deadline reported that the decision for Capshaw and Drew’s exits was based strictly on the show’s creative direction.

“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,” showrunner Krista Vernoff said in a statement. “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.”

Capshaw is set to star in an upcoming romantic holiday film for Netflix titled Holidate. 

Erica Hahn, Brooke Smith

Before Arizona was Callie’s love interest, there was Erica Hahn in seasons two through five. Unsure about pursuing a romantic relationship as she was still not completely sure about her sexuality, Hahn leaves Seattle Grace. 

Photo: Brooke Smith,

Brooke Smith explains her leaving of the show as abrupt. Both her and Rhimes have reiterated that no controversy about Hahn’s sexuality was the cause of her character being written out, despite it being widely reported. Since leaving Grey’s, Smith has been on a variety of TV shows and movies, including The Good Doctor, Bates Motel and Ray Donovan. 

April Kepner, Sarah Drew

April Kepner was first introduced in season six and became a main character in season seven. She joined Seattle Grace when it merged with Mercy West as part of a new wave of interns/residents. She was originally written to be a temporary source of conflict. However, her story became a focal point of the show between her professional struggles, strong religious beliefs and her relationship with best friend and eventual ex-husband Jackson Avery. In season 14, she resigns from Seattle Grace to provide medical care for Seattle’s homeless with her husband Matthew, marking her final appearance.

Or was it?

Photo: Sarah Drew, Twitter

After her 2018 exit from Grey’s Anatomy, Sarah Drew has been cast in two CBS pilots that failed to make it past pre-production. Most recently, she starred in Lifetime holiday movie Twinkle All the Way.  

However, Deadline just reported that she will return to Grey’s in 2021. Why? With the departure of Jesse Williams character Jackson Avery departing the hit ABC medical drama after 12 seasons, she is coming back for one last final goodbye.

Nathan Riggs, Martin Henderson

Nathan was first introduced in the twelfth season as a new cardio attending at the Grey-Sloan hospital. Once friends with Owen Hunt, they clash as Owen blames him for the disappearance of his sister, to whom Nathan was previously engaged to. He pursues a relationship with Meredith — her first serious one since the death of Derek. When his wife reappears, he eventually gets back together with her and moves to Los Angeles for a new start. 

Photo: Martin Henderson, Instagram

Martin Henderson most recently starred in Virgin River, a Netflix original. He plays Jack Sheridan, a local restaurant/bar owner and former U.S. Marine suffering from PTSD. He’s also the protagonist’s main love interest.