In news that's going to hurt fans' hearts, TVLine reported on Thursday that Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew are leaving Grey's Anatomy at the end of Season 14. And aside from dealing with the initial shock and sadness, fans of the long-running ABC series will want to know why Capshaw and Drew are leaving Grey's Anatomy. Although a definitive reason has not been revealed yet, Deadline is reporting that the pair is leaving based on the way the show's "creative direction" is headed, according to their sources.
In a statement, showrunner Krista Vernoff told Deadline:
“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.”
Although Vernoff's statement doesn't exactly say why they are leaving, it does hint that the story is evolving in a different direction, which means "saying goodbye to characters we love." Meanwhile, both actors have released statements of their own, and the series creator Shonda Rhimes also tweeted out her own thoughts on the bittersweet goodbye. Rhimes 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 LGBTQ and devout Christian communities are underrepresented on TV. I will be forever grateful to both Jessica and Sarah for bringing these characters to live with such vibrant performances and for inspiring women around the globe. They will always be a part of our Shondaland family."
Making the news a little tougher to stomach, the announcement of these two strong women leaving the show actually fell on International Women's Day.
"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."
Highlighting the representation the role brought to TV, Capshaw's tweet continued, "She was one of 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." Capshaw added,
"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"
Of course, Drew, who played Dr. April Kepner for nine seasons, voiced her feelings as well. In a message on Twitter, she expressed her love for fans and her Grey's family. She wrote,
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 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."
Drew continued by looking on the bright side: "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 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." She ended by signing the message with "Much love."
Considering that Drew's message makes it very clear she's still processing the news herself, it's hard not to admire all of her eloquence and gratitude in that statement. Grey's Anatomy clearly means as much to her as it does to the tons of fans following it on a weekly basis.
Whatever the true reason behind their departure, one thing is for sure: It won't be easy to say goodbye, but at least they'll always be part of the Grey's family.