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. Aimee says:

    I have to say as a fan of GA from season 1 that I usually understand the choices of the lovely Shonda Rhimes in terms if storyline. I have to say that Lexie is a character that I don’t feel resolute in her demise. I feel like she is so unfinished. I’m sad to see her go.

  2. waitingonseptember says:

    I have such an odd connection to this show.. watch it over and over and I literally have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach knowing I have to wait until September!! I am sad that Lexie got killed off because I WAS so hoping for a Mark and Lexie reunion, but at the same time – GREAT television. Arizona’s screaming in the beginning was gut wrenching and perfect, Cristina’s hilarious “where is my shoe”, and I LOVE MerDer moments! I will truly miss Lexie’s character and presence, but I can’t WAIT for September. I was really hoping that Mer was going to be pregnant because of all the puking from test day episode, but I will seriously be angry if she loses another baby.

  3. Babygate says:

    I get it now. I get why Lexie had to die. It was the only way to close the story between she and Mark. If she were to just leave, there would always be that door, that hope and Mark would never be able to move on. In order for his story to continue in a credible way, he had to have closure and that could only happen if Lexie died. I’m not crazy about it but I understand. Unfortunately, Eric’s performance was a little weak which took away a bit from the impact. Still, Chyler was phenomenal. Lexie will really, truly be missed. I hope we will be getting an interview sometime soon. The episode was kind of great and the funny moments were really funny but unfortunately, it’s hard to enjoy that levity when there is a death looming over it. Owen is back on my naughty list. I mean, he is the freaking Chief of surgery. How can he let all his calls just go to vm? That makes no sense and I think Shonda missed the boat on that one because it’s not realistic. Another big, HUGE, gap is the time line. The doctors left sometime before midnight on a roughly 45 min to an hour trip but they didn’t crash until daylight? And another thing, you would think that those back at SGMW would be expecting a phone call from the doctors that left. Callie is not concerned that she hasn’t heard from Arizona since she left? April doesn’t question that Mer or Der have not called to check on Zola? Teddy doesn’t question that Cristina hasn’t touched base with her? I’m thinking the doctors should have checked in once they got to Boise and when that didn’t happen it should have raised flags instead of everyone being completely clueless. I think Shonda seriously slipped on that.

    • cjeffery7 says:

      OR lexie and mark could have just gotten together, like they’ve been teasing for the last 300 years. the only reason i can see for having to literally dispose of a character is because they “can’t have anymore perfect couples” GUH. and i disagree, eric dane’s performance was gut wrenching and soul crushing, in the best way possible.

      • pat says:

        I agree. she didn’t HAVE to die…and eric dane did a great job. His whole speech felt real and made me cry. Chyler-as always was amazing and if she’s truly gone she’ll definitely be missed!

  4. etc says:

    should have seen it coming- they reduced Chyler Leigh’s screen time then they kill her
    same as they did with George, it’s becoming a pattern

  5. Jill says:

    I think I would have been ok with anyone but Lexi. I wanted her to find happiness. Mark is going to spiral out of control next season. The scene between Lexi & Mark while she died & him chanting “I love you” was so fact I teared up typing that

  6. kel says:

    Hated this finale, and it has NOTHING to do with Lexi dying. I don’t like it but what ticks me off is that it was SO effing boring and we are supposed to believe that NO ONE would notice that a plane crashed??? Give me a break Shondra. All the hype she gave this and it was beyond horrible.

    • Jewell says:

      Not only did no one notice a plane crash, no one was worried that they hadn’t heard from the traveling doctors in 20 hours? The cheif of surgery lets every call go to voicemail? Shepherd’s hand somehow goes through a steel plane? Is he superman? Kepner stills hangs around the hospital even though she was let go? Jackson Avery thinks Kepner’s whiney voice is attractive? Unbelievable.

  7. Katie says:

    I have to admit, I didn’t hate the season finale! It was okay, but I don’t think that they should have killed her off in the first 20 minutes:(
    And oh my gosh it was way to obvious! Usually greys anatom does the exact opposite..but this was to obvious! Its so sad that it had to be Lexi too:( I loved her!! That moment were her and mark were talking was so sad:(
    I really really hope she’s in a coma LOL:p

  8. cjeffery7 says:

    i am so pissed Lexie died, and so RANDOMLY too. you can feed me all the BS you want about how life is random, but this is a tv show, this is not real life, give us better closer than 15 minutes of screen time before she kinks out. i must admit for about 5 minutes i was just yelling at the tv saying i’ll never watch this show again. i probably will, but i’m really disappointed that Lexie won’t be around. it will likely be a sore spot for the rest of the series for me. the upside of this whole situation, i suppose, is that it opens a door for great performances by, and story lines for, the other actors (mark and arizona’s conversation about how Mark wanted to leave but Arizona needed him to stay?? HOLY PANTS AND SHIRTS i balling my eyes out).

  9. Emelie says:

    I love this show. I will miss Lexie just like I miss George but I will keep watching.

  10. matt says:

    I liked the ep., Mer & Christina were both fab (and should get an Emmy nom). Glad to see Teddy go; now just get rid of Owen & Kepner!!!

  11. cjeffery7 says:

    it was kind of a lame finale. from a more technical standpoint (putting aside my rage at killing lexie), it felt very disjointed and didn’t really pack a punch at the end. “oh no, we’re out of matches?” seriously? they should have ended on the dud flare gun.

  12. anona says:

    I do not think that killing was merely a creative decision, I think that since Chyler Leigh is going to be on Broadway in the fall according to her Wikipedia page, it was a scheduling one as well. Shonda had only a few options when it came to Lexie’s character. She could have either have Lexie leave Mark and Seattle with the possibility of bringing her back at a later date or kill her off. I liked the character as well but I have come to realize that she did not have any good options. If she had chosen to have Lexie leave unharmed I think Mark would have been waiting for Lexie to make a come back which may have never happened and fans would have been mad.

  13. ME says:

    I know the Lexie/Slexie fans are upset but I don’t really think GA will lose too many viewers over her death. GA will still have all its originals and imo the main reason fans still watch are for the ORIGINALS. Shonda would have been a fool if she would have killed any original off again and she better be happy they all signed too. The only other 2 close enough to be considered an original are Mark and Callie. This will not hurt the show much. If anything I’m hoping Shonda will starting writing better SL’s for the characters especially the originals like JC’s Alex and Mark as well.

  14. Kaden says:

    I could not be more disappointed in GA, not only for this sucky finale, but for the entire season.

  15. matt says:

    you realize lexie had to die she needs time with her family and i feel eric dane wont be staying so mark and lexie fans theyll probably be together in heaven or mark will live and well see him dream about her and plus she hasnt been in the show that much so dont stop watching caus she died arizona cant die she is a huge backbone to the show and lexie probably asked to leave and think of it this way its going to be the best season next season caus derek may have to resign arizona may have screwed her leg and alex will stay and christina will be mental so dont wish cancellation because one person died ya i loved lexie but i think it was an incredible finale and a better death than anyone elses hers was the most memorable out of the whole series so just calm down and remember lexie hasnt had many storylines so it may let her have familytime

  16. Rachel says:

    Chyler said last September that she didn’t want to leave the show. She said “I’m here to stay!” — So yeah I doubt she WANTED to leave.

    • Rudy's mommy says:

      Things change in the course of a year you know…

    • pat says:

      Yeah I remember this and she said “I’m not going anywhere.” I know things change, but don’t say stuff like this then. It gives fans false hope…I guess RIP Lexie Grey and Slexie :/

  17. fg says:

    I kinda loved this finale…

    • Val says:

      You must be easily amused.

      • fg says:

        It was unexpected in the best way possible… and I LOVED Lexie but Grey’s has never been a show that “does what the fans want” . I’ve been a fan since the first season and I don’t think I’ll stop watching because of one character death. But hey that’s just me :) No need to get all worked up.

        • Val says:

          Not worked up… just making an observation. Last weeks episode at least was shocking. This one just dragged on, and on, and on. Ie: You must be easily amused.

  18. Rachel says:

    i don’t like the fact that lexie died, but maybe Chyler Leigh didn’t want to come back. I mean, maybe that was the one person Shonda knew wasn’t coming back. We don’t know everything that went through her head when she wrote the episode. If she just decided that Lexie was going to die, then I’m sure she has a plan. But she could have also been writing it knowing that the actress wasn’t coming back. I mean, Chyler Leigh has three kids and may actually want to spend time with her family. I mean, she wasn’t even there for the beginning of the season. I think Shonda wrote in Chyler deciding to leave the show.

  19. Kelly says:

    Not realistic at all. Place crashes…. Of course they happen, but the outside world hasnt heard from the other doctors and all is right???? A bit far fetched. A huge disappointed. Expected much better of greys.

  20. ME says:

    Yeah, Val^ Alex needs a new story obviously.. lol I don’t understand Shonda and why she never gives him anything good

    • tripoli says:

      His being courted by Hopkins is a pretty damn good story line. It won’t happen of course, but for awhile, Karev was on top.

  21. Steph says:

    Shonda, I hate, hate, HATE your decision to kill Lexi off! Mark and Lexi’s relationship was one of the only ones worth watching/caring about. That was a poor choice and one that may cost you many fans …Also, last week’s episode was much better than this lame excuse for a finale.

  22. Deb says:

    I thought she’d be the one to go. Especially after the last “lunch” scene when she was there but did not have one word of dialoge. The “george” treatment. But…..I have to believe the actress ASKED to be let go. Most contracts are for 7-8 years and she wasn’t on that long. She did a great job. She always made the Mark and her scenes believable because he’s not the best actor although I love the character. I wish they have had Mark die instead of her.

  23. Misty says:

    Maybe Lixie isn’t dead and we will have to wait just remember the last few seasons we have been left hanging until the new season sometimes things are not what they seem…….

  24. April says:

    Lexie was one of the reasons I watched the show,, and I couldn’t wait for a Mark/Lexie reunion. This is just rediculousl I don’t know if I will every watch again. This is was a bad move for ratings Shonda. I am holding onto the hope that she just slipped into a coma.

  25. tay says:

    This show loves to bring back dead people in dreams/half-death-moments/hallucinations – so maybe we will have another Denny situation with Lexie and Mark??

  26. Joe says:

    Oh my god. People are really deserting this show over a character death? This season has been one of it’s best. I think it’s going to be pretty interesting how things turn out next year…I guess April will be hired back since they have one less Resident

    • Rudy's mommy says:

      I know, a bit dramatic of people. I didn’t hear anyone complain about Lexie’s lack of screen time, but now she’s dead everyone is up in arms…

  27. guest says:

    I cried. very sad finale. and I can’t wait for 9-01

  28. MiaS says:

    So, conjoined twins are sooooooo common that surgery teams can just show up whenever they want? News people wouldn’t be at the hospital doorstep waiting? And they would LEAVE A MESSAGE???? Messages??? There is only 1 phone for the whole hospital? Really??
    Seems unlikely.
    I really thought Lexie’s death was a fake out. Really thought the Chief would have a heart attack at dinner.
    I will miss Lexie.

  29. M says:

    WTF was that?????????????
    Killing Lexie???????????
    Firing Teddy??????????????

    Why didn’t they just burn down the whole hospital and killed every single character?

    Worst season finale ever. I’m done with Grey’s Anatomy.

  30. maya says:

    I feel dead inside, when Mark started talking about their future, I just couldn’t handle it.

  31. pat says:

    Sorry I would rather have seen Arizona gone before Lexie. She was the sweetest and most genuine character. So the doctors stay in the woods till the new season. How about rescuing them first.

  32. Cassandra says:

    first of all, if i hear april talk about sleeping with jackson one more time, im gonna scream. this is not secret life of the american teenager, i dont need a moral pep talk from greys anatomy in season 8 of a, until now, wonderfully compelling and meaningful show. secondly, they teased us for how long about mark and lexie getting back together and you give them 30 seconds to part, have some respect for you characters please shonda and your loyal viewers. just such poor writing. girlfriends losing her touch. unless we find out next season this was all just a dream sequence or something, please dear god, lol. but i doubt it. and finally, killing someone off in the first 20 minutes of an episode, poor choice, bc i didnt give two sh*ts about anything that happened after that. i wasnt happy for bailey, could care less about april/jackson. ugh. just such a disappointing finale. does anyone recall season 6 finale. effin brilliant. this was just such an epic fail.

    • keri says:

      couldn’t have said it better myself! After lexie died, all i kept thinking was “open your eyes, open you freaking eyes”. I hardly remember what happened elsewhere–esp the hospital. Like did Bailey and Ben get engaged..i have no clue. lol…And yea season 6 finale was AMAZING. I had watched greys off and on since the beg but that’s the episode that got me completely hooked. I think im gone again though after the unnecessary death of a beloved character and a crappy closure to Slexie..sure they told e/o they love one another, we already knew that. We just wanted them to actually be together!

  33. Sam says:

    Ok the “I mean” guy is pretty funny lol.

  34. Laura Hogan says:

    Really? We lose Lexie without so much as a goodbye from Meredith? Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Slexie fan, but Mer and Lexie’s sister relationship was one of my favorites to see evolve on the show. So disappointing.

  35. Wow says:

    Might as well been the series finale! Honestly, who cares about thisanymore?!?! (and I have all seasons on DVD! Dont need to buy this season!) KEEP RUNNING OFF DEDICATED FANS BY KILLING FAN FAVORITE CHARACTERS! Good job!

  36. me says:

    that was the stupidest move ever. I’m sick of finales doing drastic things just for shock value. kill a character people actually hate, not one viewers are in love with and were waiting to reunite with someone. its ridiculous. I’ve been in and out of greys since the mercy west merger (although, jesse williams was a great addition, just watch, hell die in season 9 finale). whatever, its my fault really for tuning back in.

  37. LaLa says:

    What is WRONG with you people? This was a GREAT finale. Had me gasping and wringing my hands the entire time. Lexie – I’m sorry, but no one knows when their time is up. I thought it was very realistic in that regard. What really had me upset was the fact that no one back at the hospital realized anything was wrong – until Owen checked his messages. And now, those characters are stranded in that forest (in my mind) until the start of the fall season. Horrible. Goodbye to Lexie and Teddy (hallelujah). Can’t wait until next season. Shonda hit it out of the park on all 3 shows.

  38. Mel says:

    Well since I could only read about 10 comments before I wanted to scream here goes nothing.. Lexie Grey is dead, don’t get me wrong I loved her and wanted to see a slexie reunion and under my breath was begging Lex to take another breath but she didn’t. I’d love to know why she was the one to go truthfully. I will thank Shonda for giving Miranda a happy scene she deserved it and the hanging possibility of never having to deal with Teddy again was great! It couldn’t be Arizona I mean seriously who hates Cali so much that you want to do somthing like that to her AGAIN can she please be happy for 2 seconds jeeze. I say no one leaves maybe Alex but he’ll be back. And you can put poison in Aprils wine if you’d like to start next season with that or at least tell her to stfu with her crap shes gettin it on with Jackson God will understand I mean he did make that and put it right in front of you that’s like putting an ice cream sundae in front of a pregnant lady seriously flawless nice shirtless scene btw. But the finale didn’t meet the standards a Shonda Rhimes finale usually produces it should have been 2 hours and taken us away from the forest, I didn’t like it there I don’t think many got the connection between difficulties in the wild compared to how easy say an ultrasound is back at Seattle Grace. Knowing the first scene of next season will begin the that same forest I dint like it. Lex should have had more Teddy should have had less and I still loved every second of Christina. I have watched since season 1 episode 1 and that will never change, same for Private Practice but I expect an amazing Shonda Rhimes quality season premier 2 hours long with a derek smile and NOT fully dressed Jackson TY goodnight all and RIP Lexie Grey xo

  39. Maia says:

    Well….it was not the tear jerker I expected. I’m very sad that Lexie is gone. I loved, loved, LOVED Lexie. I will continue to watch because I have watched since episode 1. I just may not love it like I used to.

  40. holly says:

    I love this show, not happy about lexie dying, I wanted her and mark back together. Don’t like how the finale ended. Ill still watch the show, but not happy with killing lexie off, should have been arizona.

  41. stacey says:

    If CL wanted to leave, there were so many different ways Shonda could have handled it. Something could’ve happened to her other sister Molly, she could’ve transferred to get away from Mark… So many possibilities, that would’ve left it open for her to return.

    Killing her off was lazy, and I feel like it is going to backfire in a huge way. Greys has been steadily losing viewers for a while now, and it is more than obvious that 90% of viewers are furious about this, so ratings are pretty much guaranteed to continue falling next season.

    I don’t mind the killing of a main character if it serves a purpose, but the only purpose of killing off lexie was shock value.

    If you look back over past deaths on the show, you’ll see viewers saying they are devastated or heartbroken. With this death it is mostly anger… Not a response you want from a majority of your fans.

  42. Crystal says:

    Beyond the loss of Lexie I’m just over these silly over the top whos dead endings! OVER. IT. The sad part is I will tune into this garbage next season just to see what happens. Sigh.

  43. bell says:

    This show is like really, really good. I’m going to keep watching next season so I can find out how April is dealing with her virgin issues…………………………….. ha, ha, ha…. NOT

  44. holly says:

    Also, should have had more excitement with maybe seattle grace should be informed plane went down and see how they react, might have had more intense scenes.

  45. Ashley says:

    People. She asked to be “killed off”. Calm yourselves. She’s not REALLY dead.

  46. Rachel says:

    I’m with most people here, why kill Lexie? I seriously loved her, especially when she was with Mark. They could’ve gotten away with killing Kepner, I was never a huge fan of hers anyway.

  47. holly says:

    I hate april, she has no reason being on show, come on kick her off.she’s annoying. Richard will hook up with jacksons mom, and what will mark do?

  48. Cb89 says:

    Man…some of you really take TV too seriously.

  49. Guest says:

    I can’t say shonda Rhimes made a mistake when everyone has responded so. I was a huge fan of lexis and loved her in the show and she was amazing for it but her death with cause so much more drama for next season cuz of how much she meant to everyone alex derek merideth Jackson literally everyone! I’m glad it wasnt Arizona she is in one of the one of the most popular couples. I have to agree no offense to the actor who plays kepner but her dying would have been more excepting to the show. I’m frustrated the way it ended… Is greys picked up for next season yet? I couldnt find anything on it and I’m worried that we will never see how the plane crash plays out it’s so frustrating!!!

  50. thecasey says:

    I literally can’t believe it. I mean I loved Lexie, i found her character really interesting and i saw her become chief resident and kick ass at that, I was terrible disappointed with how she died, while I liked Mark and Lexie together I really wished it was Meredith who was with her in the end. I felt that this relationship meant more that Slexie and they didn’t develop it enough throughout the season or even give them a proper goodbye. I know it sounds ridiculous but I’m still hoping that she is alive but in a coma or something. Damn it