Grey's Anatomy Exclusive: Chyler Leigh Breaks Her Silence About Shocking Departure

Chyler Leigh Leaving Grey's AnatomyFollowing two weeks of radio silence, actress Chyler Leigh has come forth to clear the air about her shocking departure from Grey’s Anatomy, which killed off Lexie Grey in the Season 8 finale.

RELATED | 16 Fall TV Cliffhangers: Which Characters Should Be Saved? Which Are Expendable?

“Earlier this year, I made the decision that Season 8 would be my last,” Leigh shares in an exclusive statement to TVLine. “I met with [series creator] Shonda [Rhimes] and we worked together to give Lexie’s story appropriate closure.”

Leigh, who joined Grey’s full-time in Season 4 after introducing us to Lexie at the close of Season 3, was partly MIA from the start of the show’s most recent season, after Rhimes granted her an extended summer hiatus to spend time with her family. (Leigh and husband Nathan West have three children, ages 8, 5-1/2 and 3.)

RELATED | Grey’s Boss Opens Up About Finale’s Two Big Exits: ‘It Made Me Sick, It Made Me Sad’

The night that the Grey’s finale aired, Rhimes went on Twitter to explain, among other things, that killing off Lexie “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.”

Leigh’s full statement appears below; give it a read and share your new, illuminated thoughts on the actress — and Lexie’s — exit.

“Earlier this year, I made the decision that Season eight would be my last on “Grey’s Anatomy.” I met with Shonda and we worked together to give Lexie’s story appropriate closure. I am very lucky to have worked with this amazing cast and crew for five seasons. My experience on “Grey’s Anatomy” is something that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I want to take this time to say thank you to the fans. Your unconditional love and support have made these last five years very special for me. I look forward to my next chapter and I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey.”

Watch Spoiler Alert! for scoop and theories on the Grey’s spin-off’s big exit:

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  1. ElenaJ says:

    I’m looking forward to watching Chyler in whatever comes next for her. She’s so young and has her whole future career ahead of her. Good luck, Chyler! We’ll all be there when you go to your next show. Hopefully it will be a better written one where you’re given great material to shine.

  2. Cass says:

    Were people really upset when Izzie left? Katherine H. had it coming, and her character was so annoying. Anyway, the statement doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. Good luck to Chyler in the future, though.

    • Samantha says:

      Everyone knew Katherine and TR wanted to leave. There have been three (four if you count Kate Walsh wanting to leave after these next 13 episodes) departures in Shondaland in the course of two weeks. It’s clear they’re making cuts.

      Being a fan of Chyler’s, I know there was a personal interview of her back in March that showed nothing but a woman very happy to be where she was. More telling than a generic PR, if you ask me. So are the two weeks of silence before said generic statement was made.

  3. Kp says:

    Where does it say she wanted to spent time with her family? And why is everybody assuming that? If Chyler wanted to spent time with her family why not say it in the statement?

    I think Shonda originally planned to kill off one of the original because that would bring the maximum amount of drama, but since they all renew she killed off the only other character that is going to bring lot of drama next season.

    • Krista says:

      Thank you! I can only go by what Chyler actually said. Nothing about her family. If she wants to say she decided to leave a hit show, so be it. It seems like Shonda gave her a heads up and she made the most out of it. She’s young and not stupid. She’s not going to diss one of the most powerful people in show business, however much we hate it.She wants to work in Hollywood again. It wasn’t an interview. It was a statement. The weeks of silence say so much more. I look forward to seeing her in another show.

    • Heather says:

      Because Chyler requested time off for the first several episodes of season 8 in order to spend time with her family – that’s why Lexie didn’t show up until late October (I think?) aside from one or two quick scenes. That shows that her priority is her family, which makes it completely reasonable to think that she would want to leave the show so that she could spend more time with them because she’s already done it once this season.

      • Kp says:

        Just because she needed time with her family last year does not mean is the case now. Even if it is the case why not say it in the statement. “I leaving because I want to spent time with my family” Simple. But she didn’t say that, we are assuming something base on past action which to me it’s not enough to confirm that her reason for leaving was her family. There somthing fishy about this. You dont work so hard to make it just to give it up.

        • Heather says:

          Then if we’re not allowed to assume Chyler chose to leave because of her family, then no one else is allowed to assume Shonda up and fired her. Fact of the matter is: we don’t know what happened. If assuming something based on past action isn’t allowed, then we all need to stop saying she left to spend time with her family and stop coming up with conspiracy theories that Shonda Rhimes hates her actors and her shows. What’s done is done.

          • Kp says:

            I personally never said or thought Shonda hates her actors, but I do know one thing showrunner have the right to let go an actor for creative reasons. If Shonda felt that killing Lexie would enrich the show creatively, she can do that and I think that what happened here. That was what she did with Brooke Smith when Shonda felt that the chemistry between BS and Sara Ramirez wasn’t there.

        • Bobry says:

          Because as an actress if she puts out a big statement about quitting the show to be with her family will diminish her chances of getting a job in future because people will be thinking “Oh, she left Grey’s because of family commitments, she might do it again,” so it’s better for her to keep it all vague. It’s a reasonable assumtion, given that she hasn’t been cast in anything else, so it’s not because of a career move.

  4. fan says:

    I think CL left because she realized she wouldn’t be the Grey’s in Grey’s Anatomy she said in a interview she would like to be and when it was obvious she wouldn’t be she decided to leave the show. Her decision all the SR hate will not change the facts. Good luck to CL.

    • reel says:

      Seriously? Just LOL at your comment. Like someone here mentioned Grey’s to her was like a blessing because ever since she started on TV from movies she couldn’t even get past 13 episodes. She kept saying how happy she was being in Grey’s. As for being the ‘Grey’ in ‘Grey’s’, Chyler was asked that question and naturally who wouldn’t in her position say nothing but the truth? She said that if she was ASKED, then yes she would gladly be the Grey since there was speculation Pompeo wanted no more. I just laugh at the people that keep saying she’s disrespecting her because she wants to ‘hog’ the role. Lmao. As if the show even centers on one central character anyways; Shonda likes to change on who she focused for a couple of episodes until she finds ideas for the next. That’s how she is. First with Mark’s daughter storyline… Callie and Arizona and Mark and that baby.. Cristina NOT wanting a baby with Owen.. oh, these are storylines im mentioning that was complete *BS* and crap anyways.

      • fan says:

        Sticking by my comment as far as crap SL really haven’t seen CL in a break out role and as far as losing viewers pulease out of 9 million viewers a little over 3000 have signed the petition you think will bully SR and ABC to bring CL back. Seeing how i’m 19 and most of my friends will and watch for MerDer don’t see the fans hurting that demo either. EP is Grey’s and as far as Calzona or Crowen i would be far more concerned on pi**ing off them fandoms than the Slexless one. And even if Grey’s ends after the 10th season they still had a good run. Sad part i was okay with Lexie but the way you slexie fans are bashing and blaming other actors/actresses and fandoms. I’m happy to see her go.

        • heather says:

          …. fan? someone’s gotta chillax. That Reel poster didn’t even mention viewers, wasn’t insulting anyone, and was more posting about by your obvious one-sided comment and being amused by oyur obvious defense towards ‘EP’. Slexless? … no one’s bashing anyone. If anything, you are the one by calling out names.

          People need to grow up. You, especially.

          • CrowenIsLove says:

            No? Check out twitter other boards its not hard to figure out the spammers. Grow up really also not the one calling SR names and wishing cancellation for all her shows.Fan yes because smart enough to know its just a TV show if she killed off my fav. simply would move on but to cuss,threaten and harrass someone over a character …yeah your right i’m the one who needs to grow up *sarcasm*.

    • Bobry says:

      I’m personally still getting a kick out off all the people who insisted Lexie would never be killed of because she’s ‘the new grey’, even though they were told time and again it wasn’t the case.

  5. Erika says:

    ”appropriate closure”??…greys characters NEVER have appropriate closure…so done with this show…the drama these doctors go through is no longer believable..seriously..meredith’s mother died, her step mom died, now her sister dies…adele has alzheimers, a madman comes into the hospital and kills half the staff..a BOMB in a body cavity, meredith’s ambulance goes off the road with alex and a baby, meredith drowns, izzie gets cancer and has sex with a ghost, george got hit by a bus, christina has been pregnant twice, their plane crashes!!??, etc etc..shonda you suck!

  6. Samantha says:

    You know, everything Chyler said pre-finale and her two weeks of silence afterwards speak a lot louder than this generic PR, that she likely didn’t even right. Public Relations 101 taught me that PR are made with the sole intent of keeping a certain view of the organization. Considering the fact that these words are almost identical to Shonda’s, I think that is the case here.

  7. Viewer says:

    Couldn’t they have given her a new job? A scholarship? She could have fallen in love with some European guy and left. She could have gone to Africa with some humanitarian organization. Why are they being so cruel to their characters????

    • kelly says:

      Why? how boring is that!!!! Life is cruel and i’m sure this will bring about storylines.

    • amberjj says:

      i would have been more mad knowing lexie was alive and with someone other than mark….its like izzie and alex. I cant picture alex with anyone but izzie, mainly because I know she is still out there. If she were dead, it would be easier to process that she isnt coming back.

  8. Jenni says:

    I really don’t understand why some people can’t respect Chyler Leigh’s decision. She doesn’t owe us huge, detailed explanation. She doesn’t have to say she wanted to try other things or spend more time with her kids. It really isn’t our business the reason why.

    Shonda Rhimes might not have written her death or end of story the way many of us would have wanted. I think Rhimes had some time (Chyler decided to leave at the beginning of the year) to get Mark and Lexie together again. But I don’t have a problem with Lexie being killed off. If Lexie just left, Mark would be like Alex and have no real closure to the Mark/Lexie relationship. Also, her death effects everyone at the hospital including Meredith, Derek, Alex, Jackson, etc. Death is a closure, it is a final closure.

  9. ted says:

    am i the only here who could not stand lexie’s character? She is second in line to April — who really should exit — talk about unlikeable characters…..

    • CrowenIsLove says:

      Honestly didn’t have a problem with Chyler or Lexie but like the poster said above her fans have turned me off to both. I can understand being upset but going after SR,actors and other fans is just a little ridiculous. Chyler made a decision rather her fans accept that is on them.Looking forward to season 10 and seeing who makes it out them dang woods.

    • heather says:

      yes. obviously.

  10. Cal says:

    This stuff about her leaving to spend more time with her family is getting old. Chyler or Shonda never even mentioned her family. Everyone on TV has kids,plus her kids are older, not exactly needing potty training. The rest off the actors on the show all have younger children. The family is a ridiculous excuse made up by fans.
    She never gives a reason why she left, which makes it seem all the more sinister. The rumors are sounding more and more probable

    • Kp says:

      Exactly… Nothing about the family. Show runner have the right to kill off character if it helps the story. I think SR did exactly that.

    • amberjj says:

      she has three kids betweeen the ages of 3 and 8 (not to mention one has a disability)….so i wouldnt count that as older. And its ignorant people like you would need to learn to respect an actors decision to leave. Chyler was wonderful on greys and will be missed, but if she wants to leave, then ill look forward to seeing her elsewhere.

    • greysfan says:

      Seriously? You have no idea. Ellen touched on it in several interviews in the past that some days are 18-20 hour days. Do you know how hard that would be for a mother of 3 kids? Sorry but its the truth and you have to deal with it. Get over yourself.

  11. Ana says:

    We will probably never know exactly what’s behind this decision. What does seem evident is that is was Chyler who made the decision to leave. As controversial and polarizing as Shonda is, it seems like she was just following Chyler’s wishes. If she wanted to leave the show for good, I agree that the only appropriate way to handle it was to have Lexie die. That way there are no lose ends and both Mark and Meredith can mourn and move on. Just having a character walk off into the sunset with unresolved storylines, like Izzie, doesn’t work. Bottomline, Chyler doesn’t say she left for family reasons so there’s obviously something else going on but Shonda has opted to take the blame for the decision rather than reveal Chyler’s reasons for wanting to leave. Lexie will be sorely missed. Although its not very revealing, I appreciate the fact that she acknowledged fan’s concern and gave a statement.

  12. Ana says:

    Another revealing thing here is that she just made the decision earlier this year. By that time half the season had already been filmed. That explains why is it that it seemed like Mark and Lexie were heading towards a reconciliation and suddenly they slammed the brakes. Shonda had said that her intentions were to bring them back together and even bringing Julia into the mix was supposed to help that process. She also seemed to be very disappointed that she wasn’t able.to see that come to pass. All I can say is, maybe next time you won’t wait so long….

  13. Rebecca says:

    She doesn’t owe anyone a detailed explanation why she left. I completely love that she took the time to thank her fans for loving/supporting her unconditionally. As a huge fan of Chyler, that fan shoutout was nice to read.

  14. Catarina says:

    this makes no sense. she said she had already taken the decision that the seasn 8 would be the last. wonder then, if she had taken this decision , why in a week or two before the last episode, Shonda said to fans of mark and lexie to be glad, because there would be a likely reconciliation? something it’s just wrong. I’m just saying.

    (sorry for my english, i’m portuguese, i tried my best :D)

  15. Alex says:

    yeah fine leave the show, but that death was not closure. Not even close to closure. Crappy crappy ending for a great character.

  16. Juan says:

    I love chyler Leigh and Lexie was one of my favorite characters, I will miss Lexie very much and am ssad that she is gone but will see Chyler hopefully in other roles cause she is awesome

  17. BrianR says:

    I still do not like killing off Lexie. She could have written the show is such a way a Mark had moved on with Julia, say get her pregnant and Lexie just couldn’t stick around. She could have applied for a transfer to another program near her other sister for unspecified reasons and left the show alive.

  18. Kurai says:

    It’s fine that Chyler wanted to leave and it’s fine they wanted to give her character closure by having her die. That’s where it stops being fine.

    They strung us along for 3 years with Mark/Lexie, with Shonda constantly telling us it would be a long wait but worth it in the end. She gave us hope and made us convinced we’d eventually see them get their happy ending, only for her to kill Lexie after making her miserable all season. If she had not assured us we’d be satisfied with Mark/Lexie, it would be fine. But she did. She dragged out their relationship and constantly teased us with it.

    If Shonda knew Chyler was leaving since early in the season, she had time to give Lexie a satisfying death, and she didn’t. That’s not fine.

    Making a beloved character suffer emotionally all season and then killing her when she’s down is not fine.

  19. Ethan says:

    Lexie dying sucks but at least it left an impression and definitely would impact the rest of the cast. Berke, Hahn, even Izzie who left didn’t really get closure. Yeah, they are still “alive” but have pretty much been forgotten. I think Lexie on the other hand will have a bigger impact.

  20. Sue Rosenorn says:

    Stopped watching Grey, even though it was one of my favorite shows, because ABC kept switching days and times. Must be nice to not have to work.

  21. Maryam says:

    I get that she wanted to leave. But killing off her character just to spice things up is the reason why I will not watch next season.

  22. Mikaela says:

    It’s Grey’s. She can come back as a ghost or a hallucination for Mark. Worked for Denny.

  23. Zed says:

    Reblogged this on Eee & Tee and commented:
    We will miss Chyler Leigh very much, perhaps as much as Mark.

  24. albtrex says:

    Lexie!!!!!!!!!!!!! :(((((((((( I will miss her, she was one of my favourite character… :((((

  25. frances says:

    In all honesty, no one survives plane crashes, so it made sense that lexie died even though I didn’t want her too.

  26. chylerleighononceuponatimefan says:

    Lexie was my favorite character Grey’s. Chyler Leigh is a great actress and I will watch her future projects. That said I know it was her decision to leave but she is so not to blame for the crappy writing this season and how Lexie left. The death was lazy and unneeded and the cliffhanger was lame. Also you would think if you know a character is going to leave, you’d write more and better for them. We should of seen more Meredith/Lexie moments and it would of been nice to have Mark and Lexie actually together before she left. I reallly wish Eric Dane had left too and then Mark and Lexie could of moved away instead. The death was not needed and felt wrong.

  27. Nicky says:

    If you people really believe Chyler wanted to leave, then you are delussional. This statement is clearly and echo of SR’s tweet and almost identical. This is ABC damage control. Chyler was fired due to money issues. SR knew for months then sprung it on her during the last few episodes. If chyler left willingly, this statement wouldn’t sound so impersonal and vague. This was clearly scripted by abc to get fans to calm down. Don’t be so naive as to thing all is well. If this statement was reached out earlier, I might have fallen for it.

    • Ruby says:

      And you know this how? You work at ABC or Grey’s ? If she had been fired you can be assured that SOMEONE on the cast would let that be known. Remember when the Erica Hahn character was written out? Patrick Dempsy wasted no time making comments about that, same with Isaiah Washington.

  28. SBS says:

    Well Done.
    I waited for this but all I really needed to hear was that it was your choice. I loved Mark & Lexie, but honestly, watching you play Lexie in the 15th season with a bunch of boring newbies would’ve been a waste. You’re good, and I’m happy for you. Now to my requests:
    * PLEASE, no more Shondaland, and if possible, no procedural or professional series of any kind – medical, police, court, etc. I’d rather see you in something that’s character driven. I hated Lexie at first, and YOU made me love her, that a talent, a gift, that is far more interesting than your ability to handle professional text. The way you talk is interesting and beautiful enough to hold a shot, don’t waste it on vomiting data.
    * PLEASE, nothing with vampires. Please. I’d like to keep avoiding watching anything with vampires.
    * I know you can sing, but PLEASE – no Glee or Smash. Both are awful, please don’t make me watch either.
    * Do some comedy! But only the good kind, not the outdated kind. You could be the Mother on How I Met! An appearance on New Girl, Happy Endings, Modern Family, Community or Parks & Rec will also do.
    Good luck, May quality lead you way, and again – well done.

  29. Judy Roy says:

    Oh come on. It’s just a TV show! Lexie probably has another show to do in the future.

    • Carrie D says:

      Agree 100 %. Chyler probably has another show lined up already and was weighing her options early in Season 8. TV is a business and actors have to make a living. Everybody has to watch out for their own interests.

  30. Brittany says:

    Will definitely continue to follow Chyler :) she is such a sweet and caring person. Loved Lexie to pieces but can’t wait to see what Chyler accomplishes in the future.

  31. Brian says:

    Denny, Lexie and George team up for Ghost’s Anatomy.

  32. bluefairy says:

    That was not an explanation. That was just some cheesy, cliché goodbyes/thankyous that each and every actor says when they leave a show on good terms.

  33. ben richards says:

    Chyler is a ditzy character who was always mooning over McSteamy. Come to think of it, all the women on this show wound up in bed with their co-workers. The virgin, the combat MD, the Chief Of Surgery, Lesbians, Kate & Eric & Dempsey, what a joke. Shonda, this show had great potential, but then it started getting sappy. Then you got rid of Isaac, for outing T.R. Knight. You wrote Katherine Hiegl out. You had some dynamic scripts at first, but then you ran out of new ideas, and so resorted to crap. Please give this once great series, a civil death.

    The current cast if getting old. Chyler, you got out at the right time. Go home and take care of those little kids of yours and wait for the right role to come to you. Good luck.

    • Gretchen says:

      I never liked Lexie and Mark. He was a creepy womanizer, she a young naive intern. Very creepy relationship. Lexie added little to the show except whining.

  34. Chelsea says:

    If Chyler was fired then why would she release ABC’s words (as many claim)? If they terminated her she owes them nothing and certainly is able to speak for herself. People leave jobs for all kinds of reasons. Life goes on. Even on a tv show.

  35. Meg says:

    I’m sad to see Chyler go and I agree that killing the character off was really the only way to have her exit make any real sense, given that her exit was clearly going to be permanent.

    That being said, Chyler and Rhimes knew about her exit for a while so they should’ve had time to develop a better storyline. The only thing Lexie got to do this season was realize she still loved Mark and sort of bond with Derek. If this was her final season with the series, you think they would’ve come up with a juicy storyline for her.

    And her death…I don’t mind that it was sudden, but the plane crash storyline was shoddy writing, at best. There were way too many inconsistences with it and in the end, it made no sense. Lexie’s death was still a powerful moment, thanks to Chyler and Eric Dane but it was completely unsatisfying for anyone who cared about Lexie as a character or the Mark/Lexie relationship.

    Chyler and her character deserved better than she got in both her final season and her exit. Still, I wish her all the best and will continue to watch the show to see the impact of Lexie’s death on the rest of the characters.

  36. And season 9 can end with the volcano erupting and taking out at least a third of Seattle…but life will go on because we know there wil be, at the very least, a season 10. It is, after all, fiction/fantasy.

  37. Chris says:

    We respect your decision. But I cant accept that why tragedy has to come to your character. I love and like your character esp with Mark. Good luck to you. definitely we are going to miss you so much at Greys!

  38. Kiki says:

    Grey’s Anatomy is a nighttime soap essentially. Once Chyler announced wanting to leave, Shonda only had to invest in the character until she’d written her off. Once she had written her out and now longer had to care about the character itself, she could use the death to create emotional turmoil for all involved in the crash and even more “darkness” for Mark, Meredith (welcome back dark and twisty) and therefore Derek, who is the go-to person for both, especially since the last two reupped and kept the core of her show intact. And for those of you doubting the need to spend time with her family, there is an interesting video of Julianne Margulies talking to Kyra Sedgewick and Claire Danes about how her schedule on The Good Wife played havoc with the relationship with her son and her character is on screen way more than Chuyler’s was.

  39. breezee says:

    when the rumors started flying that one of the characters would be killed off, we knew it would be Lexie. she seemed to be the most in flux character of them all and the writers and producers couldn’t seem to figure out what to do with her. sad. she was a great balance to the others and had great chemistry with Avery.

  40. Lina says:

    Olha, se ela pediu para sair e decidiu isso no início do ano, não se poderia ter criado um marketing enorme sobre o casal Lexie e Mark como foi feito pela autora. Na boa, se o ator quer sair, fazer o quê! Mas respeito pelos fãs é a nota primordial de uma boa série. A Chyler Leigh poderia ter tido respeito e educação conosco, pois se queria sair, não é simplesmente decidir há poucos meses do término da temporada. Ela deveria ter a descência de avisar a autora e informar que a 9 temp seria a última, pois é assim que atores e atrizes que respeitam seus fãs, colegas de equipe e autores fazem. Sua atitude foi ridícula e sem nenhuma honra para conosco, fãs que sempre a estimaram. Sinceramente, não espere que continuemos a apoiá-la em outros trabalhos.

  41. Jen says:

    This statement just seems too put together and formal. I remember Chyler giving an interview last year stating that she would love to be the Grey in Grey’s Anatomy if Ellen Pompeo left the show. Something just seems fishy to me…

  42. connerz1985 says:

    I am ok with it, but I now want Chyler and Eric Dane to do a movie together, and be married in the movie!!!!!

  43. says:

    the writing on grey’s is getting worse as the show goes on. it’s time for everyone to say goodbye.

    • clint says:

      wow, i totally agree, the writers are scrapping the bottom, i have been unimpressed since the attempt at the musical>? ever since then its been downhill.

  44. lexie shouldnt just took a break vacation or something shouldnt have been killed off not good aint going to be the same with out her

  45. Amy Dannan says:

    I want her in Grey’s Anatomy.. THIS IS SO UNFAIR.D: I can’t believe it.. Lexie and Mark were getting there too.:c

  46. clint says:

    reading some of these comments is very disturbing, for all you self-centered people who are shocked she left the way she did, shut up, she has a young family, find someone else to love in the show and get a life.

  47. Merton V Eagles says:

    It is to bad that Chyler Leigh has left the show. I think that she is a truly wonderful actress and I know both her and the character she played will be missed. I found her and the lady who play’s Cali to be the best the show had to offer…… and the only reason I watched the show. I will miss not seeing Chyler on the show.

  48. Dana says:

    Well there goes my hope that it was just a dream! : (

  49. Sydney says:

    Did they really have to kill her off? There wasn’t any other story line they could use that wasn’t so…depressing?

  50. Jamie says:

    Right when it was getting good. Lexi hears him say I love you and then she dies that is stupid. It would have been good to see a little more. I liked her character. It is to early for Lexi to die. But it is what it is.