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.

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“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.)

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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. Why is it that everytime you get a favorite character, on your favorite shows. They, either get killed off or the entire show ends?

  2. Stacey says:

    It’s sad to see Lexi go on Grey’s.. just when things were getting exciting and her telling McSteamy how she really felt. I was hoping for happiness with the two of them, but sometimes good things must come to an end. I do hope to see Chyler is something else… It would be great to see her in the new Dallas (if she was to ever come on the show) I love Dallas…but what ever Chyler has planned for her future.. I wish her the best of luck! You will be greatly missed on Greys! :)

  3. its none of my business or anyone elses why she did it but its nice to hear it was her decision and no one making her quit. I will miss Lexi but she obviously was done doing it so I wish Chyler Leigh goodluck with her future whether she decides to continue acting or she decides to become a stay at home mom.

  4. I think there’s more to it they are just not saying. Because her story line was good and now that leaves only 1 Gray .So why can’t you just get her replaced do plastic surgery on her face and change her . They had a Air plane crash come on now. All you have to say is she stopped breathing and they left her and she was breathing on her own again.

    • I thought for sure, since none of them actually checked for a pulse, that Lexie just slipped into a deep coma from the pain. She could still be alive; and they will recast…just not sure who would be a good replacement for Chyler…

  5. ASmith says:


    I am so freaked out by our society that we respond in such a visceral fashion about a TELEVISION / MAKE BELIEVE character. She was a cool character and now she’s gone…it’s a cool show and it will be off the air one day as well…

    It’s scary that we feel like we have to comment on a strangers LIFE DESICIONS…. It’s not our business!!!

  6. Magie Gomez says:

    I understand… I am a mother! But I´ll miss Lexie… Good luck!

  7. Maureen says:

    Wow! I am so happy to hear that some successful actresses will put their family first instead of fame and fortune. There is hope in this world after all.

  8. I’m happy that Chyler is happy. But, what story closure on Grey’s? Mark finally realizes that Lexie is the one he loves, only to have her taken from him. Are we to see a season full of regrets for Mark…Mark going into a depression…Meredith finally realizing that the last of her true family is gone. I hope this next season will clear things up for the fans…at least I don’t feel closure over Lexie’s departure…I would rather have seen her & Mark get together, get married, & just move away…or, at least have cameos, ’cause Mark still has Sophia.

  9. Sammie Jones says:

    That doesn’t help at all. She left because she wanted to spend more time with her family? I find that hard to believe. I think she was either having problems with people on the show or she didn’t like working there for some reason. This was her breakthrough role, and I think abandoning it and not showing us that she appreciates the role and the fans that made her famous is a horrible decision. All too often actors have a long running part in these shows then leave because they don’t like it or respect it anymore and end up with no parts. Mischa Barton is a prime example of this.

  10. Ana says:

    I understand Chyler must have had her own personal reasons to leave the show, but the death of her character was awful. Lexie and Mark should stay together and live happily ever after. With her death I no longer want to watch the show. I’m pretty sure they could have figured something out, something better to be the closure of her character.

    • Graysfan says:

      Amen. A horrible ending. For the past season, they’ve been struggling with feelings for each other. Then she finally comes out and admits it… and he’s on the verge of it… and bam! she’s crushed by a freakin plane. It’s just sick!

  11. Tiffany says:

    Seriously, people who stop watching Grey’s just because Lexie decided to leave are pathetic. Shows what true fans you really are. I loved Chyler Leigh’s character as much as anyone else, but I’m content with the decision that was made, and why it was made. You guys should grow up a little and respect it too. If we got through it when George died, or when Izzie left, we can get through Lexie’s death. Just hope no one else dies when it comes back in September. But no matter what, Grey’s is still the best show on television, without a doubt.

    • I guess we just got so invested in Mark & Lexie; it’s hard to believe that the moment he finally declares his love to her…she’s gone…or, at least we think the ‘character’ is dead…they could possible recast, & the character of Lexie could go thru a lot of rehab, etc. … this would be a good way to see how strong Mark & Lexie’s love really is…just a thought…

  12. Graysfan says:

    Crap! So that means there’s no chance of this airplane crash being a bad dream. :( I’m so sad….and angry. It’s terrible but I almost hope Mark dies too. I’m not going to be able to stand watching him try to get through this. Mark and Lexie belong together. There’s no one else for him. (PS: I AM aware that this is fake. lol)

  13. Donna says:

    Well that was clear as mud!

  14. samantha says:

    Lexie was my favorite character . Lexie and mark was my favorite couple on the show I would watch greys just to see if lexie told mark she’s still I’m love with him and always have been. I’m sad about her death: (

  15. I’m not necessarily mad that she left the show (lots of actors/actresses leave shows for one reason or another). I was more upset at how they chose to have her character leave the show. When Chyler said “I met with [series creator] Shonda [Rhimes] and we worked together to give Lexie’s story appropriate closure.” I honestly don’t think it was an appropriate closure to her character. It was abrupt. At least with the George character we could somewhat sense his storyline fizzling out. With the Lexie character it seemed like things were starting to pick back up again. I wish Chyler all the best in her future career, but the way Shonda wrote her exit from Grey’s was not her greatest storyline in my opinion.

  16. Jen says:

    Noo please come back!! You were McSteamy’s soul mate!!

  17. Tinta says:

    I was looking forward to seeing Lexie’s progression. Now all I’m left with is questions to what if. Lol I just wish they would replace the character instead of killing them off. I’m not sure if I’ll be watching next season

  18. Vikki Billings says:

    I think the way they departed her character was really good….The message??? Let people know how you feel before its too late, you never know when your last day will be. I love this show and will continue to watch for as long as they are on.

  19. janice r. says:

    She still has a faint pulse. When they finally get to her, she will have a shockable rhythm. Dont leave Lexie! Who will take care of Mark? All Clear!!! Shocking!!! We have a pulse everyone!

  20. stimmins29 says:

    I only made it part way through these posts, and became very disgusted. You know, if a person wants to leave a show, then they should be able to leave without us fans getting all controversial. If you quit watching a show because of one character leaving or being killed off, then you really didn’t care about the show anyway. I have watched many shows throughout my lifetime, and the writers do this sort of stuff all of the time. Be happy for the girl, she will be back on screen somewhere, and never doubt that she will find a better part in something else. We all need a break, and she has been going straight on this show for quite a few seasons. Slowly but surely all these shows are coming to an end, as they are one by one being replaced by these stupid reality shows, so just enjoy the shows you watch while they are still on. And by the way…..did it cross anyones mind that maybe this is how Chyler wanted to leave????? She did say she was involved in the writing of her exit. Hint…Hint….

  21. anita valenta says:

    This is just too funny. You do remember this is just a television show don’t you? I love the show myself and look forward to every episode. I have been disappointed a few times with the storyline but have always felt it as a great escape. Characters come and go and we like some more than others but don’t forget its not REAL. I loves Lexie’s character too but maybe someone new is coming next season to spice things up again.

  22. Debbie says:

    Best wishes to Chyler. Hope she finds what she is looking for outside of Grey’s. She was fun to watch and I hope to see more of her in other roles. She is a beautiful woman and very talented. Good luck, Chyler!

  23. susan says:

    I guess if that is what she really wanted then fine, but I still don’t’ like it, I agree it was vague in the explanation. But i did love Lexi’s character and will miss her

  24. Alejandra says:

    We will miss you!!

  25. Haleh says:

    I’m so sorry that we lost Lexie, she was my favorite one on the series :((((( We’re gonna miss u Lexie.

  26. Nancy says:

    I have given up on numerous shows when things get to the point where they keep killing off main characters in violent ways. This show has been going downhill for a few seasons now and this capped it for me – don’t really care what happens to the plot lines or characters – it’s one step above daytime soaps which are failing one by one. Bomb explosions, ferry crashes,crazy shooters, now a plane crash. Let’s not forget George – I didn’t even like his character, but that was just brutal. Just like ER cutting off the one doctor’s arm with a helicopter blade, then they crash one into him. Desperate Housewives had so many murders, nobody who have stayed in a neighborhood like that. Private Practice became unwatchable at about the point when they killed off the the receptionist/midwife’s addict ex and then they killed him off, and nobody would take the kid. I gave up three years ago on any CSI shows – too morbid and reaching for more and more outlandish ways to murder people. I don’t need to waste anymore time on depressing plot lines in any of these shows. Hope the actress finds better parts – they’d been wasting her for the last couple of season anyway.

    • Gretchen says:

      Wait, you were upset because shows about murder and crime were showing MURDER and CRIME? What did you expect, soap operas?

  27. S. says:

    … im was sad to see Lexie leave but glad Chyler chose to spend more time with her family. Hope she will appear in Shonda Rhymes other shows (ex. Scandals)

  28. Mike says:

    Don’t understand why so many loved her. I for one am glad she’s off the show, as I never liked her much from day 1.

  29. Yasmeen says:

    I appreciate what you said. I agree dying is the ultimate closure. But its a closure. What about her relationships to others? Mark? Meredith? Avery? I’m definitely not over her death, and still believe its a mistake. The finale was devastating, though one of the best. All in all, we’re gonna miss Lexi. A lot. Like really a lot.

  30. Ok where I respect Chyler’s decision to move on from Greys, especially if it had to do with her family….I just don’t agree that this was “an appropriate way” of doing it. Couldn’t it just have been that she and Mark just weren’t gonna work out so she chose to move to another hospital? Why kill her off?!?! Doesn’t make sense the two characters who had some controversial issues with Greys (Burke and Izzy) get to just leave the show, but the two everyone LOVED (George and Lexi) Shonda decides to kill off. Nice!
    Seems to me you can only make so many crazy changes before the show just seems too unrealistic and is doomed for a Show finale.
    I love Greys and would HATE to see this happen so let’s get back to business Shonda, quit killing the main characters off!!
    Lastly, Good Luck Chyler!!!

  31. Doesnt explain WHY she wanted to leave. It’s B.S. when people create a character, make you care about the future of the character, you spend YOUR valuable time watching it develop, the storyline, and in this case the love story, and then it’s all ripped out from under you because…. ??? it REALLY SUCKS…not like she has some major motion picture coming out or some career move. I dont really want to watch Grey’s anymore.

    • Julie says:

      But just because Lexie is gone doesn’t mean that the show is going to be bad without her it’s going to be different. I do agree with you on the you build up a character and a love story and then something happens and it ends but that actually happens in life.

  32. Darina says:

    I am sooooo mad Lexi left! Her and Mark would’ve been such an awesome miracle! I can’t believe she’s gone, I should’ve seen this coming when that episode of Meredith when she falls asleep and everything was different because her mom loved her dearly and when Lexi comes in as a patient and in the end dies. I am so not happy she left, she was awesome!

  33. Patricia P. Kaufman says:

    Both my husband and I hated Lexie from her first appearance to the end. We were glad to see her leave the show.

  34. Julie says:

    I am going to miss Lexie on the show, I was a big fan of hers and I was told that it was a good idea to bring her in just in case Maradith decided to leave the show. I am a big fan of the show and it’s going to be real different without Lexie. But I do understand why she left now and I am all for her wanting to spend time with her family.

  35. Emma says:

    She has three children under the age of 10 that need their mother. There is nothing wrong with choosing your family over your career.

  36. ..... says:

    i am with you forever!!!!!but i loved you character so much…

  37. Marin says:

    While I saw this coming with her missing so much air time this season for family, it sort of contradicts a couple of Shonda’s post finale interviews where she states she had a different path planned for Slexie. Making it sound like this was a last minute decision on Chylers part. If she knew for a whole season that Chyler was leaving why didn’t they make the ending a little more of a build up? Plus the other stars “claim” that they did not know Chyler was leaving until the filming of the final episode. It just doesn’t add up. I’d say the crash is a dream, but I see McDreamy’s hand as a way for Dempsey to be on the show every once in a while and pursue his race team more. Dream or not they aren’t getting rescued until the very end of the premiere.

  38. Nicole says:

    I’m not happy with the decision to kill Lexie off the show, but it sounds like a decision she didn’t have choice to make. I wish her the best and thought she was an awesome addition to Grey’s Anatomy. Hope to see her more in the future, her character did an awesome job.

  39. Or I was sad to see lexie go hoping to she net season but guess not. Your presence on the show will be missed good luck in the future!!

  40. Me says:

    Strange.. I can’t seem to understand why they’re building up the tension between Lexie and Marc during the whole season and than “end her story” in the season’s finale.. Such a shame, some characters lost my interest waaaaay before Lexie’s did..

  41. Deborah Kita says:

    Awe, gonna miss Little Grey :( Wishing Chyler a bright future.

  42. Andy says:

    I’m so bummed! I was secretly hoping for a miracle save in the first episode of season 9! Greys won’t be the same! :(

  43. z@web.de says:

    I thought, she wanted an appropriate closure – so, why didn’t they give Mark and Lexie a happy end before death?
    Will miss Lexie :(

  44. Quintana says:

    Heather made a great comment above. We all want the happy ever after ending of love because we are romantics and that’s what we want in our own lives, even if we have it. I personally wanted Mark and Lexie to be together and was so very sad when she died. But that’s why we watch these shows, for the drama and the love and the emotions that it brings out in us. This is just one of many endings that people won’t like but I am so looking forward to next season just like I have every other season. Good luck Chyler with your family! I have a 3 year old and I spend 10-12 hours away from him 5 days a week and if I could make the same decision I would do so in a heart beat!

  45. MediaHo says:

    I’ve adored Chyler ever since her starring role in “Not Another Teen Movie.” I’m sad that the character was killed off, but it’s a TV SHOW, people! Come on! And if you check her entry on Wikipedia, there’s mention of a project on Broadway coming up. She’ll be fine because she has genuine talent.

  46. albert says:

    Lexi is HOT her reasoning is a lame excuse but oh well she wanted more money so they cut her loose. That’s the real reason Who ever seen the movie Alive lol

  47. Anjanet says:

    I will miss Lexie but I felt so bad for Meridith, their relationship had a rocky start but she loved her sister very much in the end. :(

    We’ll miss you Lexie. <3

  48. Marin says:

    I agree. What happened to the shows of our youth that made you escape and feel good about the world? I remember watching sitcoms like Cosby on Thursdays when I was young. It was family night. That why “Two Broke Girls” has replaced Grey’s as my favorite show.

  49. hellen says:

    It sucks that she had to die so that her sexy love doctor told her that he loved her!!! But other then that I still live “greys anatomy”<3

  50. Dyna says:

    Lexie was a favorite of mine, and her death made me sad, too. But, I think there is a great lesson to be learned from the season finale. Mark and Lexie let fear get in the way of expressing their true feelings earlier. We can lose those we love at any moment, so let’s not put off telling them what they mean to us.