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. Olivia says:

    Completely a gigantic letdown this is why I don’t read spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy, this episode was the worst finale ever at 9:57 Owen listens to his voicemail and hear that his doctors never reached Boise.

  2. Kelly says:

    I’m seriously shocked that more people didn’t see Lexie’s death coming sooner. She didn’t appear in a bunch of episodes this season and in the last half she was just there to say I love you to Mark fifty bazillion times. The actress in the beginning asked for a smaller number of episodes to appear in because she wanted to spend time with her family. It was only logical. Sad that she’s dead don’t get me wrong, but her story really wasn’t going anywhere.

    • Liz says:

      Actually, I think that’s WHY people didn’t see Lexie’s death coming. That’s how they made George’s death such a shock. Everyone thought, “they won’t pull the same stuff twice…”

      … Except this is Seattle Grace Mercy Death where no one dies by suicide (even though surgeons have a suicide rate higher than the general population), they just die from runaway buses. And plane crashes. And bombs in bodies. And crazed gunmen.

      Whatever, Shonda. This was a bad move. Getting real sick of the recycled storylines (what, can we look forward to a repeat of Burke’s damaged hand again with Derek?) and good characters dying, while the bad ones *cough*APRIL*cough stick around.

      • Katie says:

        Actually, that is a good point and what I predict for Derek in season 9. His hands are his money-makers. Harvard would be less likely to take on a surgeon that can’t operate. Just saying …

  3. FairyTaleLover says:

    No! Her and Mark BELONG together. First, Mike on Desperate Housewives and now Lexie? WTF, Shonda. WTF? You just lost a viewer.

  4. Nadia says:

    Dear Sonda Rhimes:
    the show wasn’t good enough already and you go and kill one of the good ones. Good bye, it was good knowing you, goodbye grey’s anatomy!

    I didn’t find this good, was like a hard try to do a “great” twist. Not good at all.

    I did not see it even as a “nice try”, just wrong…

  5. Liz says:

    This is probably the only instance in the history of television where I will gladly accept an “man during the flight i had the scariest dream” type of scenario in next season’s premiere. Only so Lexie and Mark can live happily ever after.

    • Calla Lilly says:

      ME TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I literally would not even complain if she did that. I would be SO happy!

  6. Danielle E says:

    I’m done with Grey’s after this. How could they just relegate Chyler Leigh to a tertiary character this season (come on, she gets like 1 scene per week where Lexie asks Derek for advice about Mark and/or she looks sad while staring after Mark) and completely waste what is arguably one of the better (potential) storylines on the show? For her to have such a small role this year and be killed off rather unceremoniously is honestly just rude.

    I’d much rather watch Mark and Lexie attempt to work out their problems with age difference, his children, etc. and not have it be a joke, than see one more damn scene with Callie talking about how sexy her wife is, or Meredith issues with her damned mother. Don’t even get me started on the awkwardly forced ‘chemistry’ between April/Jackson and the utter uselessness of April in the first place.

    All that being said, did anyone else notice the hints that Arizona is not doing as well as they think? Her leg is seriously broken, she was coughing up blood, and they spent a significant portion of dialogue talking about how happy and perfect everything is for CalZona. I think she may die in the season premier. Let’s all hope that Lexie has gone into some kind of serious shock, and is still barely alive.

    • Cassandra says:

      oh i reallllyyy hope you are right bc i agree with everything you just said. i can’t even get started on how much i dont care about april and jackson. if i hear her whine about sleeping with jackson one more time im gonna freak out. this isn’t secret life of the american teenager, i don’t need greys, a show ive loved for years, to teach me some lesson about saving virginity for marriage. are you kidding shonda? have more respect for your loyal viewers and your characters for heavens sake!

  7. Ashley says:

    I’m only going to watch the first episode of next season (assuming they don’t do a time jump) just to see if Mark dies, so he and Lexie can be together. That’s super morbid, but I don’t care. I’m really gonna miss Chyler Leigh. :(

  8. Sam says:

    Seriously, she killed kill Lexie? WTF? I have watched since the beginning and tolerated a lot of bad characters but she was awesome. Get rid of April! She is hideous!!!! I would have even rather seen Sloan die than Lexie! So disappointed!

  9. Eric says:

    I was never a Lexie fan myself. And I hated her and Mark together, they had zero chemistry and he was way too hot for her! I honestly didn’t think that Lexie would be the one to die, but just because a certain character is gone does not mean you give up on a show, you continue to watch and see how it plays out.

    • May says:

      I love how you make it clear from the very first that you hate Lexie and Sexie, right before you get all self-righteous on their FANS about quitting the show just cuz said said character’s gone. Oh yeah, you’re really speaking from a shared viewpoint there. I’ll get right on with following these words of wisdom.

  10. Dana D says:

    UNACCEPTABLE. Simple as that. I’m still hoping for a “hahahah just a dream sequence” at the beginning of next season. I DON’T CARE. NEGATE THIS WHOLE EPISODE. DO IT.

  11. g8rgrl9395 says:

    I thought it would be Lexie who died because the actress took an extended leave instead of coming back at the start of the season… she wanted to spend more time with her family. So perhaps she wanted this to happen too because the filming schedule was too much. And I thought the goodbye was realistic. How many of us get hours to wish our loved ones goodbye? Many of us don’t even get the five minutes these characters had.

  12. I’ve been a loyal fan for years. I own the DVDs. I watch every single episode. The past couple of seasons, though, it’s not been a *must watch live* show for me, watching it later has been fine, and I still loved it!

    But now…not so much. I’m not boycotting, but I won’t care if I miss an episode. This was just too much. No longer a loyal viewer.

  13. Adriana says:

    I was numb after Lexie died, she was one of my favorites characters. Worst finale Grey’s ever had, not because of her death but because the episode wasn’t good at all. It was even kinda boring after the death. Other tv series killed off characters I loved before but in such a fantastic episode that I felt the need to rewashed it and felt like even though they killed then they still did the character justice. I wont be watching next season… What a way to ruin what was until now a great season.

  14. Maddy says:

    I’m a big greys anatomy fan. I only watch for Meredith and Derek though. I’m very disappointed at this finale, and Lexie dying!!! I just wished Owen was on the plane and was the one to die, he’s such a horrible chief and for firing Teddy? Urgh not my favorite finale. I really wish Shonda didnt leave a cliffhanger and make us wait all summer! This show should have ended after the season 6 finale.

  15. Hector says:

    A true fan will never leave a show no matter what happens. I’m a fan of smallville and season 7 was bad but I did not stop watching I watch till the end. And u should do the same with this show! Because they killed your favorite person ur pissed? Grow up and stop talking crap shonda is making money reguardless of what you say!

    • AnnClau says:

      I so agree with you. I did the same with House. Season 7 and the beginning of 8 were not good and the story was ridiculous even sometimes, but I stayed and now we’re having great ending episodes so it’s all worth it. Every long-running show has its ups and its downs, it’s normal. Could you write 8 years worth of episodes that would all be great? I don’t think so.
      Everybody is like “They killed my favorite so I’m leaving”. Where were they before Lexie came in the show? She appeared in like season 4 so.

      • Liz says:

        Seasons 1-3 were actually a decent show without a ton of outlandish plot points (ok, they did have a few) and a smaller cast of characters.

        Season 4 was where it started to get WEIRD (hello Dead Denny!) and Lexie was a breath of fresh air. She was the reason many of us stayed on the crazy-train that was seasons 4-5.

    • May says:

      Yeah, and some people just like certain parts of a show rather than the whole thing, get over it. None of us actually owe Shonda a thing – TV is for entertainment, Shonda’s got every right to churn out crap week after week all she wants, but we’re really not obligated to sit through it if it’s not fun anymore and the best parts about it are gone.

      • tripoli says:

        Well said. While I am mostly of the belief that it is a bit petty to stop watching an ensemble show after the loss of your fave character, I understand that some people are very invested in certain characters, and without them, the show is not so enjoyable. Seems like Lexie had a huge following, and if fans were already disillusioned by the show and were only sticking around for her and the potential of a reunion with Mark, I could see why they would feel no need to keep watching now that she’s dead.

    • Tee says:

      Who seriously cares about being a “true” fan? They don’t send you a medal in the mail if you watch every episode until the show ends. Watching something you don’t enjoy seems like a waste of time.

  16. Britt says:

    Disappointed…. not at all what I was waiting for! Killing Lexie was a bad choice, mark and lexie should have been together….like i said disappointed that is was going to be much more then what it was :(

  17. Kate says:

    I think the fans that liked Lexi were the ones that saw it coming most. :(

  18. Susan says:

    I have been a big grey’s fan, but after what Shondra just did, I am out and not watching anything she writes and produces. I am so disgusted with this whole show, NEVER AGAIN. She should be ashamed of herself.

  19. ms.lilbrarian says:

    I am so disappointed in tonight’s episode. Killing Lexie was just ridiculous, but I read an interview Chyler did a year or two ago where she said that she would love to stay on the show and take over after Ellen Pompeo left as the Grey in Grey’s Anatomy and I just had chills and thought “nail in the coffin, now Shonda will kill her character off”! So mad, Arizona’s character is selfish and annoying and yeah if they were going to kill Lexie off then they should just kill Mark’s character off too because if they try to put Mark with someone else (and please not that milk toast Julia doctor) then that will just be pathetic-Lexie and Mark were meant to be together and pulling them apart sucked and now killing her off before he could even tell her he still loved her sucked even more. Total dislike and very disappointed in what they did with the Mark/Lexie story arc.

  20. Patti says:

    George was barely seen the season he died so maybe that should have been my first. I know everyone says maybe Chyler wanted to leave, but KH wanted to leave and Izzie had cancer that spread EVERYWHERE, she lived. Callie and her baby lived with no residual effects, so did Bailey’s son. Lexie could have just moved away. She could have left and maybe done guest stars. Killing characters is not always good drama. On Lost and on Grey’s it’s become a cheap gimmick.

  21. blueteal says:

    Maybe she is not really dead?

  22. Heather says:

    Im so mad that they killed Lexie. Ive been waiting forever for those 2 to finally get back together, they hinted at it all season! Im still hoping that she isnt really dead, only passed out with shallow breathing and the way callie and karev were talking, I thought she’d kill off Arizona. UGH!

  23. Ace says:

    I’M DONE. Seriously, screw this. I’m out.

  24. Cory Pollitt says:

    Not sure I’ll watch the show again. I watched it this past season eager for mark and lexie reunion.

  25. seriously.. says:


  26. acgray says:

    I can’t believe that I have all 7 seasons of Grey’s on my shelf and have watched it since day one now to have Shonda screw up this bad. She is not a writer I’m done. I’ll never watch another one of her shows ever. This is wrong. There was over a 100 different ways that this could have gone. No wonder non of the actors are not staying. This is the worst show I’ve seen in a long long time. What Hospital chief donesn’t answer the Phone??? Emergency or not there is someone to answer the phone. Something like this would not have been missed a whole day? Surgery like that and no one missed them? Just bad bad bad.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Lexie’s not dead. :):):)

  28. AnnClau says:

    Okay. That was a good episode. I loved the references to George. And stop saying how it’s so bad Shonda killed Lexie and you’ll stop watching the show. Grey’s Anatomy was great before Lexie appeared, still was great with her and still will be without her. I understand why she killed her and not another one; Lexie is one of the characters whose death will seriously affect all of the others more than some other one.
    But I do think people at the hospital didn’t seem busy enough. Owen had his calls put on voicemail because he had a big emergency or whatever but the residents weren’t doing anything. Now it only seems like Shonda wanted a reason for people at the hospital not to learn about the crash until the end. It would have been more believable if they had been really busy.

  29. Maddy says:

    I’m glad Christina found her shoe though, that’s probably the only thing that made me happy about the episode.

    • Lucy says:

      Cristina “I have PTSD so I’m not reliable” Yang is actually pretty funny when she has a concussion/is in shock. I liked the shoe bit. Because, honestly, how would you lose a shoe? Did her foot get stuck in the overhead bin? I still don’t get how it came off.

      • tripoli says:

        It’s called the force of a plane crash. Did you miss the part where half the plane was missing? Surprised all she lost was a shoe. Sorry for the snark. Episode was awful, still mad :)

  30. Karyssa says:

    Seriously killing off Lexie is sad but it opens up the most story lines. I think it was a smart move. It affects viewers deeply. And it provides a sense of closure to her and Mark. He loved her. It affects Meredith and Derek. And it will open the opportunity for drs to stay. Killing off a character like Owen wouldn’t affect much of the viewers. It’s a drama. Real life isn’t all roses. It’s going on a 9th season and Shonda needs to create some animosity. It’s devastating but it was a good move story wise. I was disappointed with the ending though. I really hope no one else dies.

  31. Sandy says:

    I love how Shonda said at the beginning of the season it was gonna be tough for Mark and Lexie but they need to grow and it will get better…….. That was not better. I’m pissed off and officially through with watching this show.

  32. Maryam says:

    I will never ever watch this show again! Shonda you suck and so does this show. I am done.

  33. JenL. says:

    I actually would have preferred if last week’s episode was the season finale. It left so much at stake. I am usually pretty good at seeing where the story is going but I didn’t even give a plane crash a second thought and was completely surprised. For me that was much more impactful. I found this ending frustrating. I will miss Lexie and I hope Teddy sticks around. I’m concerned for the fates of the crash victims. I would consider them all still at risk – though w/contract information for the bigger names we’re expecting to see them next season.

  34. Sara says:


  35. Zesta McCoy says:

    This was just too sophomoric. I’m surprised any doctors could be recruited to Seattle Grace since there is one disaster after another there. How many times are the writers going to rely on shootings and deaths and escalating melodrama to get people to watch this show? I’m surprised the writers didn’t decide to do the finale in 3-D — or maybe to have had the entire cast die one after the other just moments before a rescue team came.
    Do the writers think the only emotion people have is grief? We’re sick of this melodrama! I can hardly wait till next season when the writers will have to come up with new sophomoric drama. Maybe Seattle Grace can blow up and someone will die in the rubble. Or maybe we can find out that “someone we love” has an incurable cancer and will die in the finale. Maybe Yang will decide she does want a baby, only to later have a miscarriage. Maybe the birth parents of Derek and Meredith’s child will want her back — no wait!, she could be kidnapped and the whole season could be spent looking for her. WE ARE SICK OF THIS SOPHOMORIC MELODRAMA! GET SOME REAL WRITERS!

  36. Amlang says:

    So, Lexie is dead, and boring, good for nothing Mark gets to stay alive. Bad move, Ms. Rhymes, bad move.

  37. Alex says:

    Horrible idea. Honestly I could write a list of other characters I would have no problems never seeing again but Lexie? Bad bad bad move.
    They’d better figure out a way to fix this b/c from the comments on the web fans are pretty damn pissed right now.

    • Erin says:

      No, the comments from the SHIPPERS are angry. The comments from people who just like good TV are along the lines of “Meh… Not very well written.”

      • tripoli says:

        There are plenty of comments from people who aren’t “shippers”. Lexie was quite well liked on her own.

  38. Brittany says:

    Lets not forget that it may not have been entirely Shonda’s decision to kill Lexie. It could be entirely possible that Chyler Leigh had no desire to continue with the show. The woman is a wife and mother, the plane crash was probably already a thought and if Chyler didn’t wanna stay, Shonda just ran with it. We can only speculate. I’m sure, with due time, we will know for sure whose choice it was. And for all we know, (Shonda has said already that she has done NO writing for Season 9), that minds may change and it’ll all just be a seriously bad dream. Or a “OMG we’re crashing, this is what could happen” flash. And then they crash and la-de-da, everything is fine. Until September, relax. Ya’ll are gonna make yourselves crazy speculating.

    • Liz says:

      Oh, please. If an actor wants to leave the show, there are a million ways to do it besides dying.

      Seattle Grace Mercy Death is getting a bit old.

  39. Seb says:

    Haha i love how melodramatic everyone is, you’ll all be back.

    • Dude says:

      Lexie was the ONLY reason I stayed after Katherine Heigl left. What reason do I have to come back? Oh that’s right, none.

      • Rudy says:

        So you wasted an hour every Thursday to watch ONE character that wasn’t even on much this season? Ooookkk

    • May says:

      I’m sure you really hope so, don’t you?

      Heh, with all the ‘omg, how dare u not watch cuz they killed 1 char!11!” Stans here, I’m feeling less and less guilty for chucking this show.

  40. Karyssa says:

    Now Yang will stay bc shell love Owen and have Teddy’s spot. Meredith will stay bc nostalgia. And Derek probably messed his hand up. Derek will survive bc Mer can’t lose both and Zola needs two Parents. Mark will grieve and maybe will die before they’re found. I think Karev will stay for Arizonas spot bc she obviously will need recovery time.

  41. Hater of shonda! says:

    Shonda sucks donkey balls! Honestly what a douche bag! To take one of the best characters and kill her off!! All I have to say is wow!!!! Hey shonda, Hope you enjoy your lack of followers next year, cause obviously you want the show to tank! Such a terrible finale. I don’t blame the writers, they were just following their sometimes spectacular but seriously stupid head writer/creator! Congrats!!!!

  42. Karen says:

    Shonda/the writers obviously know nothing about virgins. (Big surprise.) First April says that she wanted it to be a big thing & then she ended up waiting too long, then she has sex not because she’s in the moment but…who knows why…then she says she was a virgin because of her religious beliefs. It just isn’t at all credible as a whole. Just like the writers have to consult medical specialists, Hollywood writers need to consult people who actually have religious beliefs about virginity, since it’s so beyond their area of knowledge.

    • Kate says:

      I know everyone’s really critical of this storyline but actually I think it’s one of the more interesting. She hid the fact that she was religious and now she’s “coming out of the closet” so to speak with regard to her beliefs — as she says during her boards melt down, it’s true, doctors who are religious ARE looked down upon and it’ll be interesting to explore how her religious beliefs develop from here. I agree that the virgin/Jesus thing was a bit unnecessary and that the story could have been done without losing her virginity (another crisis could have allowed her to come “out” with her religious beliefs) but this way we get to explore the science/religion debate while allowing her to explore a relationship with Jackson.

  43. Spencer says:

    I loved Lexie…you can’t kill Little Grey!!!!!!!!!! TPTB suck.

  44. LEG says:

    I’m not sure why everyone is so upset about Lexie. The character was weak-willed. She was a brilliant doctor and could have rivaled some of the “stars” of the show, but instead she collected charts and spent her formative time at the hospital pining over Mark.

  45. Becks says:

    Sucked so bad!!! I understand it’s a drama and you gotta kill people off to keep it, well, dramatic; but Lexie deserved WAY more. She’s been on the show for 5 seasons and her own sister wasn’t even there when she died?! All she got was a 2 minute conversation with Mark, which, while very sweet and sad, was NOT sufficient for such a popular character.

  46. Mike says:

    I half expected to see the smoke monster at the end!

    The entire episode it felt like the writers were just grasping at straws. First this week, the Gossip Girl finale was all kinds of awful, now this? Come on TV!!!

  47. Natalie says:

    Lexie better have a pulse and be alive in September. Its tv make it happen. Without her I am done with this show

  48. Marc says:

    Ok so I wasn’t expecting Lexie to die at all! Seriously? I’ve faithfully watched this show since the very beginning and never have I ever been so dissatisfied with a season finale. I mean, I understand it’s a TV show and all, but I just can’t imagine one group of people being put through such hardship over and over again. Why did Lexie have to die? I was hoping she would carry on the mantle being that she is the second Grey on the show. Would it not have been brilliant if a few years down the road Ellen Pompeo moved on and Chyler Leigh’s Lexie got to take over?

    • Rudy says:

      The show isn’t going to be on ‘a few more years’. Maybe another season or two, that’s about as long as drama shows last. And Lexie was never strong enough to take over as the central character.

  49. Dude says:

    This should be the final scene in the final season of Grey’s Anatomy. Chyler Leigh walks up to Shondra Rhimes and slaps her across the face the way Shondra just slapped every Mark/Lexie fan across the face.

  50. ANG says:

    All I could think about were all of the animals fighting over lexies dead body…