Shonda Rhimes Reacts To April & Arizona’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Exit With A Sweet Statement

by Kristie Rohwedder
Eric McCandless/ABC

Major news over at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital: On Thursday, March 8, Deadline reported that Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew will leave Grey’s Anatomy after Season 14. After this announcement broke, series creator Shonda Rhimes released a statement regarding these Grey's changes on Instagram. She wrote,

“It’s always hard for me to say goodbye to any of my characters. Both Arizona Robbins and April Kepner are not only beloved but iconic — both the LBGTQ and 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.”

What a bittersweet farewell to two wonderful, adored, and important characters who've been part of Greys for many moons— about a decade's worth of moons, in fact. Capshaw has played Dr. Arizona Robbins for 10 seasons, and Drew has played Dr. April Kepner for nine. This goes without saying but: Greys really won't be the same without them. And hopefully, the "They will always be a part of our Shondaland family" line means there will be some Arizona and April cameos on the horizon.

So, why are Capshaw and Drew leaving? What was it that prompted this decision? Deadline's sources claim that they’ve been cut due to the creative direction of the show, and judging from what Grey's showrunner Krista Vernoff said about the overhaul, this seems to be the case. In a statement to Variety, Vernoff said,

“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.”

It appears as though Grey's fans aren't the only ones who didn't see this ensemble shakeup coming. While Drew knew that she'd been cut from the series before the rest of the world did, she tweeted that she only found out earlier this week. Shortly after the news hit the internet, Drew posted,

“Hey guys. Thank you for all of the love. 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 you 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 Greys 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 so grateful.”

And after Drew shared her message, Capshaw tweeted her own moving response to the news. She wrote,

"For the past ten 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 she has brought 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.”

There have been a few significant shifts to the show's lineup as of late: Season 14 also bid farewell to Martin Henderson, who played Nathan Riggs for two seasons, last year.

Before you start bracing yourself for any additional heartbreaking changes, here's something to keep in mind: According to Deadline’s sources, Capshaw and Drew will be the only main characters leaving the series this year.

Be sure to cherish the rest of Season 14, Grey's fans. It's the end of the Aprizona Era.