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.)

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:

Comments (536)

  • Has everyone forgotten that this is a television show, and the characters are fictional?

    Comment by Angie – June 4, 2012 09:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m still suffering Lexie’s death, I loved the character I absolutely didn’t want her to die!!!!

    Comment by Avis – June 4, 2012 09:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • i def didnt see this coming at all!!!! ill miss her for sure. i wonder how mark will handle her death after they get rescued (if he makes it) b/c he was looking bad in the end, but so was derek. and did i read right? two kill offs?

    Comment by ashley – June 4, 2012 09:58 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Chyler you and your character will be truly missed! You brought so much to this amazing show! I wish you luck in your future en devours.

    Comment by Charleanne85 – June 4, 2012 09:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I will miss you, Lexie! Sorry you & Dr. Sloane never got back together.

    Comment by bluebird313a – June 4, 2012 10:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Seattle Grace Mercy Death much? If Leigh felt it was the time for Lexie to leave the show, I’m cool with this. Just wish Rhimes would stop killing people off!!

    Comment by goodateverything – June 4, 2012 10:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I haven’t seen the last episode ’cause in my country they’re showing it tonight….but I’ve read everything about Lexie’s departure and it’s so sad!!!she was my favourite character!!!!she’ll be missed a lot!!!!

    Comment by Lorena – June 4, 2012 10:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • People………their doctors, they didn’t check her pulse. She may just be unconscious. I know it’s a long shot but it wouldn’t be unheard of right?

    Comment by Jb – June 4, 2012 10:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • In this economy I just don’t “get” why an actress would non-renew her contract for a recurring role in a successful series. Best of luck to her. She’s going to need it. Perhaps we’ll see her next on a reality show??

    Comment by Adele S. – June 4, 2012 10:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Chyler has 3 kids ages 7 and under. One of them is prone to febrile seizures and she has said another has special needs. She had to hire extra help for her kids. Maybe it just got to be too much for her. She took time off in the beginning of season 8 to spend more time with her family. She wasn’t really in the first few episodes this season.

      Comment by Jenni – June 4, 2012 12:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I will miss lexie for sure!!

    Comment by krystal_zhou (@krystal_zhou) – June 4, 2012 10:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • We who have come to find the Grey’s Universe a safe-harbor to excercise our emotions and play with our dopamine, felt Lexie’s death like it was almost real…felt it in an even more exquisite way because we could walk around it.
    It was very poignant, and I’m relieved it wasn’t for budget cuts or ratings.
    We are all sorry to lose a source of such shared meanings, that brought us to emotions we perhaps don’t get enough of in our daily lives.
    [Shonda and my pet rabbit have taught me so much about my dopamine. Thank you!]

    Thank you, “Lexie!”

    Comment by Mike Bowden – June 4, 2012 10:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was expecting…. That Mark was sleeping….and all things that happend was a bad dream…or nightmare….and he wake up and finaly tell lexy that he loves her and need stay with her. But after all this words and comments, im very sad. Bye Lexie…Ill miss you forever.

    Comment by Melissa Giraldi Faria – June 4, 2012 10:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think it was more than appropriate to have Lexie killed off. Her death follows the storyline that was in motion from the very beginning of the season. Shonda had this plot in mind because of the uncertainty that came with the remaining original cast members still in negotiations with their contract while filming this season.

    If Chyler wanted out as everyone involved has said at this point, then this was the best closure. Others have pointed out, she is a year behind the other main characters so there are no realistic reasons for her to take other jobs and/or move from Seattle since she was born and raised there. There was no room in the plot for her departure to not be connected to the plane crash without having her back for season 9. Mid season episodes can have a handful of different storylines but finales do not so well in the same manner. If you notice almost all finales have plots that are centric on one or two cases or something that connects them all on the same level (ie: Teddy and Owen working on Gary Clark’s gunshot/car accident victim from prior to getting to the hospital).

    People complain about death and trauma on releasing actors on season finales of this show. It is a Medical Drama, what would be the better alternative? Did you ever watch ER? At the end of the day, it is a TV show and the writers, and developers did what they thought was best with the uncertain hand they were given (Raver and Leigh wanting out and unsigned contracts with the original 6) and not all viewers will be happy.

    Comment by Ashley Marie – June 4, 2012 10:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Blessings to you for whatever future endeavors come your way. “When one door closes, another opens”. Sometimes it takes a “window of time” to know what direction our lives are headed! You are a wonderful actress and will me missed! Embrace your decision.

    Comment by Mary Bixler – June 4, 2012 10:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Im still not over George’s death ;(….I am in fear that Shonda may be overwhelmed with too many projects and will start losing focus on GA and that the show will come to an end. Please don’t let this happen Shonda…this is hands down the best show ever.

    Comment by Misseds – June 4, 2012 10:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I still won’t be able to watch it. Lexie and Mark were my second favorite couple. Killing off George was bad enough. Sending Izzie away wasn’t much better. But now killing off Lexie I can’t bring myself to watch it anymore.

    Comment by Alexandra – June 4, 2012 10:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It doesn’t matter, I will never get over this :(((((

    Comment by Cajsa – June 4, 2012 10:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I thought the death of Leixie was very moving… Mark is going to be a wreck next season. I had big crocodile tears streaming down my face. It made me think of my own life and waiting to tell someone that you really do love them play all the stupid games then in a flash it is all over… No second chances… I know it sounds corny but Life is not a dress rehearsal…

    Comment by Dede – June 4, 2012 10:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was so sad that she was killed off. Shonda is a great writer, but I personally would have made it a different twist, like the plane crash mangled her face so she had to get plastic surgery. This opens up the door for a new character to play Lexie and we can see how Lexie and Mark’s relationship would play out. That’s just my personal opinion. Still going to watch this show.

    Comment by Jennifer – June 4, 2012 10:37 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wiat What? She has 3 kids, she looks like she’s 12! Lord!

    Comment by Brandy Rowell – June 4, 2012 10:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • take it easy people its a television show and these are FICTIONAL characters, she is an actress and maybe wants to try other things. Its Her JOB not her life.

    Comment by sparky – June 4, 2012 10:44 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really hated to see you go. It wasn’t the ending that I had thought for Season 8 because Mark and Lexie were so close of making it finally really work. It was a sad ending for you and you will be missed. Good luck with your family.

    Comment by Jessica – June 4, 2012 10:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I respect Chyler’s decision, but the writers could have given Lexi and Sloan a few weeks together.
    Why did they make us hope and even believe that they would get back together? That’s why I hate this ending, not because Lexi died.

    Comment by Kate – June 4, 2012 10:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Let’s see- George got boring, Isaiah was Isaiah, Dr. Hahn was nice to look at and we need people to be writtenoff the show by being kidnapped and either held hostage and shot or found in a shallow grave. Private practice was slow moving and designed for those who needed sleep. Kathy Heigl was just a blonde and that was it. End the show with everyone going their separate ways.

    Comment by cb – June 4, 2012 11:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • u bad!! poor Chyler!! let her do wat she wants!!

      Comment by Gaby – June 4, 2012 11:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Will miss her. Wish she had not left forever, but I also hope she has wonderful plans ahead and that we will see her again on TV or the Big Screen.

    Comment by Susan – June 4, 2012 11:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • TROLLOLI LIKE TO SING AND DANCE IN THE MEADOWS..just kidding im also very sad bout poor lexie she has always been so cute and sweet im very sad but thats life,cruel sometimes,happy sometimes.Bye Chyler!! i wish u a joyful life with ur husband and kids!

    Comment by Gaby – June 4, 2012 11:21 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think it was a poor decision to finalize Lexie’s exit. She was one of the best characters and actresses ever on this show, and her chemistry with Sloan was matched only by Meredith and Derek. This stinks! Chyler has a right to leave, of course, but there is no need to eliminat any possibility of the character’s return. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Please make it all be a dream. A good writer should know better than to hurt it’s audience this way. I’m not happy.

    Comment by Susan – June 4, 2012 11:22 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Does anyone know if Izzie will ever come back??

    Comment by Chipper Kelli Jo Hill – June 4, 2012 11:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • My problem is it never explains why she was on the plane to begin with she wasn’t up for her boards till next year Meridith and derick were going back east for possible positions Alex was going to Hopkins Christina was going to her new position but Lexi, Sloan, Arizona are unexplained as to why they are on the plane.

    Comment by Stacy – June 4, 2012 11:40 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 2 of chyler’s kids have special needs. She said in a previous interview that it was hard handling their care and her career at the same time. So I believe that this has something to do with her departure. She may take a long hiatus from acting altogether to care for them. I wish her the best of luck!

    Comment by Alors on danse – June 4, 2012 11:44 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was really looking forward to lexie’s reconciliation with mark. I can’t believe she’s now dead, she was one of the best characters of the season. If somebody had to die I would have liked it to be April.

    Comment by Claudia – June 4, 2012 11:46 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Good luck Chyler!!!:). We will miss Lexie, You did a great job! We will look for you on T.v., movies? Broadway? Enjoy your family

    Comment by Robin hazard – June 4, 2012 11:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was shocked, sick myself when she dided! I didn’t feel that the character had reached her peak, I felt that they left more people upset that she was gone rather than content. I look forward to seeing her in another sitcom or series, always found her Lexie to be captivating and well played. Thank you!!!

    Comment by Doreen – June 4, 2012 12:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • There are so many posts, I didn’t have time to read them all. So forgive me if I repeat what’s already been said. I don’t believe for a minute that Chyler made the decision to leave and that she and Shondra discussed this earlier in the season. I am sure Shondra killed her off for whatever reason (budget, etc). I am sure that Chyler purposely made her comments PC, probably after being offered God knows what from ABC. C’mon folks this is ruthless television. It wasn’t sudden, it was done purposely, albeit in very bad taste and stupid storytelling. We all know Shondra’s better than that. You don’t keep a show on the air this long with stupid storytelling unless, of course, your name is David E. Kelley.

    Comment by Kate – June 4, 2012 12:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Oops. Made an error in my email addy. Don’t want to miss any commentary.

      Comment by Kate – June 4, 2012 12:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • if anyone is shocked by this maybe you missed season 6? seems to be how all characters exit this show!

    Comment by Debi – June 4, 2012 12:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I have a solution for everyone that’s complaining about Lexie’s departure and the way she was written off. Come up with your own idea for a television show, create your own characters, pitch it, get backers, get it on the air then end their stories the way you see fit.
    Should be easy enough. Give it a try! Good luck!

    Comment by elle – June 4, 2012 12:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Good Bye Lexie i loved watching you and Grey Acomday for the last few years.

    Comment by Amber Derry – June 4, 2012 12:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by DIANA – June 4, 2012 12:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • OMG, im soooooo mad they got rid of Lexie, i enjoyed watching her and mark or even her at work!!! Totally HATED the ending!!!

    Comment by leeanne – June 4, 2012 12:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Damn, no more Lexi-pedia! What a bummer.

    Comment by Briana – June 4, 2012 01:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The entire finale was” jumping the shark” to me (my opinion). First of all do you know the odds of surviving a plane crash EVER?? Then they just happen to all be Doctors with minor wounds (yes minor for a plane crash). I love the show but seriously this past season’s writing has not been as it has been the previous seasons. And seriously the fact the plane never reported and the woman just leaves messages?? Ummm try paging someone. They went the entire day? C’mon. Now they have to go the entire night with injuries no less and survive with NO fire? Seriously? I guess why I like the show so much is because many of the story lines are conceivable. Were. :) Again this is my opinon and I’m not trying to be mean, just opinion. Sorry if I sound harsh.

    Comment by Piper – June 4, 2012 01:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I can’t believe you died just when it seemed that maybe you and Mark would finally get together. Was so sad to see that happen.

    Comment by Lucy – June 4, 2012 01:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I get it. You can only play a scene so many times before you get burned out. How many times during her 5 years was her character Lexie Gray mooning over, getting it on with, and/or arguing with Eric Danes character Mark Sloan before they both finally decided they needed to be together just not at the same hospital?

    Comment by KS1earthling – June 4, 2012 01:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am crushed Lexie is gone. Her love for Mark and the lingering possibility they would get back together made the show a draw. I will miss her sweet character a lot!

    Comment by Nancy – June 4, 2012 01:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s great that she gets to be with her family. The script could have been written that she accepted work at another hospital accross the country. It was just too sad.

    Comment by Marie Mabry – June 4, 2012 01:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It really sucks that Chyler Leigh has left Grey’s Anatomy, but I do wish her the best in her future endeavors!

    Comment by JOn – June 4, 2012 01:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • For whatever the reason is, I am happy that she gave me eight seasons of entertainment. I wish her the best for whatever she does or does not do next.

    Comment by Josephine Ball – June 4, 2012 02:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Sad, sad, sad. Sorry to see Lexie go!!!

    Comment by Nancy Orloski – June 4, 2012 02:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I want Burke…I miss Burke…..Lexie.smexie…zzzzzz! I want Burke even if it is for a rare, crazy procedure only he a Christina can do…just one more time!

    Comment by Beverly – June 4, 2012 02:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • At least she didn’t get fired, she got killed off by her own request. That makes me feel better.

    Comment by Lynn Blanchard – June 4, 2012 03:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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