Grey's Anatomy Boss Opens Up About Finale's Two Big Exits: 'It Made Me Sick, It Made Me Sad'

Grey's Anatomy Season 8 FinaleYou. Were. Warned.

Early Thursday, Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes issued the following alert to fans via Twitter: “Do not expect to be comforted or happy at end of the GA finale. I wrote it and even I found the ending to be very unsettling.”

She wasn’t kidding.

Although we’ve known for weeks that a Seattle Grace vet would meet an untimely end in this week’s plane crash-themed season climax, the death still packed a wallop — mostly because it came so early in the hour (defying finale convention). And, more importantly, because the character’s last name is in the title of the freakin’ show!

Yep, Rhimes went and killed Lexie!

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Truth is, Little Grey, played for five seasons by Chyler Leigh, didn’t stand a chance. Trapped beneath the wrecked fuselage, she was barely able to say a final goodbye to despondent ex Mark before she slipped away in the episode’s first 20 minutes. The death triggered a meltdown in sister Meredith (Ellen Pompeo really brought it, huh?) while Mark (an equally impressive Eric Dane) completely shut down. We would later discover that McSteamy was battling more than just a broken heart — he suffered something called a “cardiac tamponade,” as Cristina quickly diagnosed. She and Mer then performed some eww-inducing emergency surgery and saved his life. (Arizona and Derek also sustained serious injuries but, thankfully, survived.)

Meanwhile, back at Seattle Grace, Teddy nixed that Metcom offer and decided to remain at the hospital because she wanted to stay close to her dead husband’s ghost. And out of loyalty to Owen, who then turned around and fired her as a way to force her to take the job. (So long, Kim Raver!) Her exit would seem to pave the way for Cristina to become Seattle Grace’s new Cardio God.

UPDATE: After the West Coast airing, here is what Rhimes shared on Twitter about writing out Leigh and Raver:

Callie said it best tonight: Life changes in an instant. Turns on a dime.

This finale was incredibly hard to write. I did not enjoy it. It made me sick and it made me sad. We end the season not knowing ANYTHING about the future. Except for two things. We know we are definitely saying goodbye to two of my favorite people: Chyler Leigh (Lexie) and Kim Raver (Teddy).

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. I like to imagine that Teddy is still out there in the Grey’s Anatomy universe, running Army Medical Command and building a new life.

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.

I’d write more but I’m honestly too sad. I don’t like life changing in an instant and turning on a dime.

Elsewhere in the finale:

* Jackson decided to take the Tulane job, leaving best friend and lover April to mourn what could’ve been. (Sorry, no way Jesse Williams is leaving.)

* Bailey and Ben officially got engaged in one of the episode’s rare happy moments.

* Alex revealed in a voicemail to Arizona that he was accepting the position at Johns Hopkins. (Sorry, no way Justin Chambers is leaving.)

Reaction? Were you blindsided by the big death? When Lexie took her last breath, did you immediately flash back to this TVLine story from last fall and wonder if there was a connection? Which performance were you most impressed by? How long do you think Mer, Der, Cristina, Arizona and Mark will remain stranded in the middle of nowhere? Hit the comments!

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  1. Dani says:

    While I applaud Shonda for being unpredictable in the season finale, I think TV shows are really about pleasing the audience. And that was NOT a pleasing finale. Lexie was the only reason I still watched Grey’s Anatomy! And wasn’t there a quote from Shonda like “I’m 87% sure Lexie and Mark will end up together?”

  2. Kelly says:

    I guess April can stay at SG and take Lexie’s resident position :( Really dislike April. If Chyler wanted to leave, they did not have to kill her. I mean Izzie is still out there, why couldn’t Lexie live.

  3. Sarita says:

    Remember when Lexie joined the cast and everyone hated her character? Now’s she’s beloved. I’d love to see SR make April a more compelling character (the actress was superb in Everwood!) I’m sad Lexie’s gone, but it will mean some great story lines next year. (I’m not surprised actually, since they wrote the character as pretty one-note this season).

    • Tanz says:

      Agreed, I also think this will open up storylines. I wish they’d make April more likable, she seems all over the place but I think there’s potential there.

  4. madbengalsfan85 says:

    Grey’s kills Lexie, Bones sends Brennan on the run, and there’s no telling what House is going to do…this is a very depressing week for me

  5. Erin says:

    Killing off a popular character just for the sake of creating conflict is the sign of weak writing. I am not impressed. She’s trying to hard to hook people again, but it just failed miserably.

  6. Librarian says:

    Nobody thought to build a real fire? Seriously?!

    • Agnes says:

      To be fair, three of them can’t walk, of the three that can walk, only one has 2 working hands to strike a match, and she just lost her sister. I can see how Mer forgot about tending the fire.

  7. SK says:

    I feel like Shonda took the easy way out. She didn’t know who was coming back and who wasn’t so instead of trying to work out out so she could explain it at the beginning of next season if she had to, she just left half the cast in a death trap. Seriously? EASY.WAY.OUT. C’mon you’re better than that. Now, we don’t know whats coming at the beginning of next season, she could surprise the socks of us as fans. But that finale.. AWFUL.

    • tripoli says:

      Agreed. She could have just as easily not killed anyone, but left a few lives hanging in the balance so she still gets her dramatic cliff hanger finale. At least then there would have been some more time and effort put into any potential death, rather than this seemingly rushed end to a well loved character. And one whom she has apparently dangled in the face of fans who wanted her to get her happy ending with Mark. I feel for the more invested fans that follow the show on social media and what not. I think they were lead to believe a lot of things that ended up to be complete fabrication in order to keep them hanging in there every week.

  8. Franklin says:

    seriously? Lexie, of all people seriously? And that early on? I myself couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the rest of the episode due to pure anger. I can’t even say it was well executed or anything,it was all a huge mistake. Kind of contemplating not returning to watch next season and I have been an unbelievable loyal fan.

  9. Ana Barnett says:

    wow!!! so freaking upset about this!! my heart is shattered in pieces :(ooh no no more Mark and Lexie, they never even got back together, and i thought they would :(

  10. Kristi says:

    I have watched the show since the beginning but when Lexie died I turned the channel. I kept watching to see Lexie and Mark get back together. Now that will never happen. I don’t want to see Mark eventually move on or watch them grieve next season. I think it is time to find out what else comes on at 9 on Thursdays. To me, Shonda “jumped the shark” and I’m done.

  11. Orry says:

    Watch! Come August it will all be a dream and none of it happened.

    • SK says:

      ^ this! Haha, talk about a bait and switch. Meredith fell asleep on the plane and had one hell of a nightmare. Man, and we are all livid now. Imagine the reaction to that. It’s this generations “who shot JR?”.

    • Ana Barnett says:

      that’s what i just told my husband too while i was sobbing over here lol

    • Kelly says:

      I don’t think it’s a dream but what was with various characters hearing bells,it even played with owen.

      • Andi says:

        Yep we noticed the chimes as well. And the parallel stories at the crash scene and hospital (compound fracture, tamponade). Christina remarking on why this kept happening. The mentions of George. Callie being way too happy. Something was off with the episode.

  12. Stefanie says:

    Really? Lexie? Come on Shonda what were you thinking? Oh that’s right, you were’nt! April was a disposable character as she failed her boards, that would have made more since given her despondency over that and her loss of her prescious virginity and how she thinks Jesus hates her now. But Lexie has more of a story to tell, Mark and her have to figure things out. She and Meredith are sisters. Even Teddy could have gone!

  13. Laws says:

    I found it so hard to care about anything else after Lexie died. I didn’t laugh at the jokes. I wasn’t happy for Bailey. I don’t think I could have cared less about anything.

    I was shattered when George died but I still loved the episode. This episode was not to the usual calibre of Grey’s Finales, but then again Lexie died so I am probably judging it a little harshly.

    • Cassandra says:

      no you arent. i feel the same way and the only way i feel better is seeing the 2 pages of ppl who feel the same way i do. i said the same thing, i was like, im not even happy for bailey right now and how could meredith be ok enough to help in like an hour after her only blood family member(besides her estranged dad) left just died? i mean cmon, merediths not christina, shes more emotional than that. just so stupid to kill her off at all, but esp in the first 20 mins of the episode bc i could’ve cared less about april/jackson or any other story line after that…so dumb

      • Laws says:

        I know. The only thing that kept me half interested was Mark. I didn’t care that Teddy was performing the same procedure as Meredith. Wow. One’s save in a hospital and the other is on a mountain after a plane crash. Who cares. Lexie died.

        There was no tension left after her death. Six went down. One will die. Okay she’s dead, the others are safe. While back at the hospital is fine and dandy ( Sorry Teddy, Owen and April, wasn’t listening at all to anything you said) they have no idea about the plane, not that it matters because the rest will be coming home in no time, along with the annoying pilot.

        Okay, rant over.

  14. lyla says:

    I can’t even come up with the words to express my distress and sadness. Easiest way to put it: i’m done.
    Years spent waiting for a Mark and Lexie reunion and we get this? COME ON?
    What happened to deaths meaning something? This was pure “shock value.”
    8 years of my life…well, i’m officially done.

  15. RIP Lexiepedia. That wasn’t fair. :'(

  16. Lydia says:

    Officially done watching Greys. Never again. Lexie/Mark was my favorite relationship. Shonda Is a sick twisted sadistic woman who must’ve been damaged somehow to be unable to let characters be happy.

  17. Well, at least I now have my Thursday nights back. Whether Chyler wanted to leave or Shonda just wanted to get rid of Lexie, her character is what kept me watching for so long, and now the show’s over for me.

    The Lexie/Mark reunion was NOT bittersweet. It was devestating. I would have honestly been better with Mark dying too. That would have at least paid some tribute to their story. Now, I don’t see how Mark’s character can believably move on…and it’s definitely not something I’ll be sticking around to see.

  18. Christina says:

    I think’ frustrating’ is a more apt descriptor than ‘unsettling’ for this episode.

  19. AJ says:

    WHAT. A. JOKE!!!!! I am not only done with Grey’s but now I am boycotting all of Shonda’s shows. Thanks for stringing along viewers and fans of the Lexie/Mark romance and then rewarding it with such a cop out. Horrible writing and a horrible way to reward such loyal fans!

  20. J9 says:

    I was really disappointed in tonight’s finale, but really it’s the season for stupid endings and frustrating cliff hangers. It’s like the writers and show creators get together and say “Hey…. How can we really mess with our fans? Very sad, but like I said… Tis’ the season right?

  21. Tara says:

    Overall it felt like a lack luster finale. Yes, I’m upset Lexie is dead. I’m used to characters I love dying though. The only good thing about Lexie dying is it elicited a very strong emotional response from me and good tv will do that. But that was the only moment. I teared up a bit when Mark was about to say goodbye and stop fighting to live but that was it. The rest of the episode was dull to me. To have Lexie die so early in ruined the episode. I was numb and angry for the rest of the episode. And to have it build up for so long that April was so upset and disappointed in life and then nothing from that… they easily could have had her commit suicide. It would still be a surprise but it would fit.

    And I love Chyler Leigh but I couldn’t help but say – at least she didn’t kill the show this time… The show killed her. Horrible joke aside, she rocked this episode just like she rocked every other episode she was in. I’m sad I won’t be seeing her as Lexie anymore (unless they do some weird flashback crap) so I really hope she lands another recurring role on some other show.

  22. Kevin says:

    Worst writing ever! So physicians cannot start a fire with matches that the average Survivor moron starts, do not know basic grade 6 Physics and levers so that they can lift a heavy object to save somebody. Her writing get more ridiculous every episode. This should be on daytime TV. Brutal last season for me.

  23. Cassandra says:

    i love that there are 2 pages of comments and only like 2 reactions in favor of the finale. i have been watching the show since episode one as well and it was bad enough killing george. but now to kill mer’s sister?? like, im done with this show. shonda just lost soooo many viewers, and after reading all the comments, im glad im not alone. maybe she can rethink this over the summer and find a way to make lexie miraculously survive and arizonia or april die. bc seriously, suuchhhh a bad move if you want to keep viewers…ive loved this show for 8 seasons, but I’m done.

  24. Tanz says:

    I never really liked Lexie, so I’m not bothered about it to be honest, but the final felt really choppy. You could tell that she reqrote it many times because there seemed to be a lack of direction, too many stories back and forth. It would have been better to make this a two hour to resolve things a bit more. The many commercial breaks didn’t help. Still, looking forward to September!

  25. Allie says:

    I can honestly say I didn’t see that coming. I really thought it was Arizona. It just seemed like they were foreshadowing it soo much. (That alone should have made me realize that it wasn’t gonna be her) Why Lexie? WHYY?? Even after they said she died I wasn’t convinced. I was pretty sure it was gonna be a fake out and she was gonna move and….and…. :( I think I’m still in denial.

  26. Les says:

    I’m done w this show. All the good characters are killed off and we’re left w the annoying ones (ie Kempner). No thanks!!

  27. CJ says:

    why do they kill off the characters we love and keep the ones we get so tired of? I am so over Bailey and would’ve like to have seen her go down in the plane. Love Lexi and Mark..sad

  28. Stephanie says:

    This was uncalled for Shonda!!! Seriously, I can see wanting to shake things up a bit get things moving in a new direction but you picked the wrong direction. Forget about the fact the you yanked Mark/Lexie fans around for years. You just killed off one of the better characters of the show and honestly unless you have everyone and I mean EVERYONE else come back next season and stay, there is not way you can make up for that. I’m sorry I’m gonna have to call Bulls*** flag on this one.

  29. Tommy says:

    Im pretty sure this is a little off topic seeing as how Grey’s tonight was unacceptably sad (Lexie is my favorite character…I will never say it in past tense) but is Kim Raver actually leaving the show??

  30. Troy Rison says:

    Still can’t believe Shonda killed Lexie so early in the episode. Also, I think the show has finally succeeded in jumping the shark (it’s tried to about 5 times now). As a loyal fan, I will continue to watch the show until the end and I still think I’ll enjoy it, but this show will never again be what it once was. I did love Cristina pointing out just how ridiculous the series has gotten. I mean seriously, a bomb in a body cavity, a ferry boat crash, George being hit by a bus at the same time that Izzy is dying of cancer, a mass shooting, and now a plane crash. I think we even had a lightning strike in there somewhere. Remember the first few seasons where the show was about medicine and relationships? I miss them.

  31. sam says:

    mark and lexie have been on and off for like forever, she finally makes her big declaration and two weeks later she’s dead?! in the first 20 mins?! and all we get is a 3 min (barely audible on her part) goodbye with mark, the love of her life!! and meredith didnt even make it in time to say goodbye! wth?!? im at a loss for words over how ridiculous this finale was and i looove greys, but this was a slap in the face.

  32. Elizabeth says:

    Still can’t believe Lexie was killed off. Her goodbye scene was way too short. Am I the only one upset that Teddy is leaving to? If anyone should leave its Owen. He is such a jerk.

  33. JBS says:

    This isn’t to defend Shonda, but this finale was written before the contracts were signed by the original 6, so technically the finale had to have some sort of a cliffhanger like this.
    By no means am I defending the finale; I’m just trying to look at the other side of it.
    Plus, at least the promise was kept that someone did indeed die. But why, oh why did it have to be Lexie? I was a Lexie/Jackson shipper, but that last scene between Lexie and Mark pretty much had me in tears. She will indeed be missed.

  34. Caitlin says:

    In Shonda’s defense, she definitely got everyone’s attention. That is the POINT of a drama people! Kill beloved characters and stir everything up! I’m sad too but I knew it was going to be Lexie. Happy endings are not the reality.

    I like Arizona more but I’m worried about her and Mark in the premiere for next season. It’s gonna be a long summer.

    • Liz says:

      Finally a post with some sense… I know people are frustrated and have a right to feel that way, but without CONFLICT no one watches television. I was really expecting Derek to die, but this definitely sets up next year to be COMPLETELY different. It’s crazy, but it works.

    • Zesta McCoy says:

      She got everyone’s attention only because there was so much hype about how “someone we all love was going to die.” Those of us who watched were curious as to who would die this time around (because Shondra Rimes loves to kill off one character after another — it’s her go-to ending every time). BUT, nothing in this episode was worth our attention or even worth “killing” an hour of our time. And we also know that if we watch next season we will have to wade through all this melodrama once again as the characters come to grips with their feelings. I suppose there will be the usual ghosts as well. HoHum. The writing is predictable, repetitive, and boring as hell. The only good news is that at least all of Meredith’s blood relations have now been killed off. Those variations on the Meredith story line are used up thank god! There are still her husband and child who could be killed off. And, of course,Yang could die in another episode. I suppose for something new there could be a Harry Potter type episode where all the ghosts of the dead are milling around talking to the doctors who have not yet been maimed or killed.

  35. Angered says:

    I’m finished with Grey’s. I started watching again because of Mark and Lexie and love them together. I don’t understand why they had to kill her. She was my favorite and I can’t bear to watch it anymore.

  36. Taryn says:

    i never thought that Shonda would actually have the GUTS to kill off Lexie

  37. Priscila says:

    I was a little disappointed by this final episode. All these days of anticipation and I don’t know why, It just didn’t came through for me. The death happened way too soon, and all the other things just seemed so random and out of place. Like the emotions were all wrong, it felt superficial, somehow. The fact is Shonda has written far better material without killing anyone on the show.

  38. Lois says:

    Finale totally sucked. And I still firmly believe the season 6 finale was the best 2 hours of television I’ve ever seen. The death was anticlimactic, unfair, and frankly an insult to everyone who loved Lexipedia, the beautiful, talented and intelligent women who graced our screens for 5 years. And particular a cop-out to Mark/Lexie fans who were always told to ‘hang in there’ and were given crap in return. I don’t think I really care about Grey’s anymore, and this show changed my life.

  39. Tiny_reader says:

    I generally don’t react to tv shows; I know it’s fiction and not reality. The characters are played by actors. That said, I’ve been a faithful Grey’s fan and I’m pretty angry. I can’t speak to Shonda’s ideas for next season, but killing Lexie feels gratuitous. Especially because Teddy is apparently leaving! And because the finale ended unresolved, it’s possible that another character dies in the season 9 opener. Just disappointed. Mark and Lexie’s back and forth and uncertainty felt more real to me than the other couples. Sucks. That’s all.

  40. S says:

    I can’t say I’ll miss Lexie because I was never a big fan of her or of her and Mark together. IMO it ruined McSteamy. So she’s really a goner right? …lol

  41. Tabitha says:

    This was awful. I spent nearly the whole episode so angry about the stupidity of losing Lexie that I wasn’t heartbroken, sad, or unsettled. I am disappointed, thoroughly. The Mark/Lexie dynamic was the only thing bringing me back to the show. BIG MISTAKE.

  42. Fran says:

    PISSED to the max. I loved Lexie!!! Is anybody else in serious denial and think that she’s not actually dead?

  43. Phoebe says:

    I really hope we find out what’s in the hatch next season! And oh gawd, what’s that island monster??

  44. Simple says:

    Shonda Rhimes may not be afraid of killing off major characters but she just made a serious mistake! Killing Lexie was not a well thought out idea at all- why kill an integral character when she could have gotten rid of superfluous side characters who are no longer interesting,such as Bailey, or who don’t add anything to the story line, like Arizona.

  45. Meagan says:

    Agreeing with pretty much everyone else. Lexie and the Lexie/Mark relationship were the ONLY reasons I watched the show. Honestly, I would have been fine with her killing off any other character, even Derek or Meredith. This was my last episode of Grey’s.

  46. Beth says:

    How heartbreaking was Meredith sobbing next to lexie? Still speechless

  47. Lucía says:

    All the promises “Lexie and Mark will be together” “It will be painful but it will worth it” was total sh*T!! Im not going to watch Greys again, i wanted them back! That was the only reason I watched it because I love them. Now that I cant expect anything from them, I wont watch it.

  48. Ana says:

    I can only assume that Chyler had to leave the show for personal reasons. She missed the first 4 episodes and only did a cameo on the 5th. After that she was pretty much on the sidelines bonding only with Derek and the much awaited Slexie reunion never happened. She also missed the concert after she was scheduled to appear. It all indicates that something was going on behind the scenes. I can respect that. Still, Dang!!!! We waited for ever for Mark and Lexie to get back together and now is never going to happen. As much as I wanted more, I think Shonda ended it on the right note.

    • Makenzie says:

      She missed the first 4 episodes so she could spend more time with family, not because she magically disappeared. And also, there was a lot of behind the scenes stuff going on with Katherine Heigl during season 5 and 6 but Shonda Rhimes didn’t decide to kill her off. If Chyler Leigh is leaving (and that hasn’t been officially released as a statement yet), it should have been a better send-off.

  49. Blerg says:

    I swear if she comes back as a ghost like denny ima be angry! Also so depressed about the lexie mark relationship. Blerggggg, so unsatisfying!!

  50. Kate says:

    Just know guys this was the response she was expecting. The cliffhanger was not very well played and lexie dying was terrible but not at all good. The hospital scenes were a joke, lexie was the best character on that show, and it was very slow paced. I have to watch the premire just to see what happens.