Patrick Dempsey as Dr. Derek Shepherd
As Meredith’s first love interest on Grey’s Anatomy, I think we all still have a soft spot for “McDreamy,” a.k.a. Dr. Derek Shepherd. He was there from the beginning, and fans absolutely loved rooting for him and Meredith, at least at the start of their on-and-off relationship. Derek remained a central character up until his death from a car crash in the season 11 finale, which had millions crying around the globe. It’s hands-down one of the most heartbreaking scenes in Grey’s, which is saying something.
As for Patrick Dempsey’s reason for leaving the show, it was reported it was due to creative differences with Shonda Rhimes and his want to pursue other projects. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor said his decision to exit “just sort of unfolded in a very organic way.”
Dempsey returned to Grey’s in the season 17 premiere.
Sara Ramirez as Dr. Callie Torres
Dr. Callie Torres was first introduced in the second season of Grey’s Anatomy and quickly became an essential part of the show. She memorably dated and married George in the earlier seasons before exploring other relationships, also navigating her bisexuality. Callie married Arizona Robbins and had a few other romances before deciding to move to New York in the season 12 finale.
Sara Ramirez departed the series after this, and there are several potential explanations. They had stated that they wanted to take a break from acting to focus on other projects and causes, and also cited personal reasons.
In a 2022 interview with Variety, Ramirez reflected on their departure from Grey’s, stating: “I had reached a physical, emotional, mental capacity for playing the character — and had sort of lost myself with it.”
Which Grey’s Anatomy character exit still stings the most for you?