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'Grey's Anatomy' season finale: Shonda Rhimes comments on cast exits

May 18, 2012 |  1:29 pm

Grey's Anatomy
The eighth season finale of "Grey's Anatomy" aired Thursday night and fans of the show were forced to bid goodbye to not one but two cast members -- one of them in a very permanent way.

Although it was known in advance that someone would die in the season finale, there was some question as to who it would be. Could it be McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey)? Or Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) herself?

It turns out that the ill-fated cast member was a Grey, but not Meredith. Her half-sister, Lexie, played by Chyler Leigh, went to that big sexy hospital in the sky. The poor resident died following a plane crash that involved most of the cast.

"Grey's" creator Shonda Rhimes confirmed the departure via Twitter on Thursday night, telling fans, "I love Chyler and I love the character of Lexie Grey. She was an important member of my Grey's family. This was not an easy decision. But it was a decision that Chyler and I came to together. We had a lot of thoughtful discussion about it and ultimately we both decided this was the right time for her character's journey to end. As far as I'm concerned Chyler will always remain a part of the Shondaland family and I can't wait to work with her again in the future."

The other cast member to leave was Kim Raver, who played Dr. Teddy Altman. Her exit was not as grisly as Leigh's: Altman left Seattle Grace to head up the Army Medical Command.

Of Raver's exit, Rhimes tweeted, "I know this season’s finale had some surprises for viewers and the exit of Kim Raver was one of the big ones. But Kim’s series option was up and she was ready to give Teddy Altman a much-needed vacation. It’s been a pleasure working with someone as talented and funny and kind as Kim; everyone is going to miss her terribly."

Fans can breathe a little easier about the rest of the cast now. It was reported by TVLine last week that series stars Pompeo, Dempsey, Sandra Oh, Justin Chambers, James Pickens Jr. and Chandra Wilson all signed contracts for two more years.


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Photo: From left, Eric Dane, Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey and Sandra Oh in "Grey's Anatomy." Credit: Craig Sjodin / ABC.