Why did Isaiah Washington leave Grey’s Anatomy?

Find out the truth behind Isaiah Washington's Grey’s Anatomy exit here!
Apple TV+ Original Series "Shantaram" Premiere - Arrivals
Apple TV+ Original Series "Shantaram" Premiere - Arrivals / Amy Sussman/GettyImages

In the TV world, especially in the world of the long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, characters come and go. And the series is no stranger to introducing and biding adieu to its characters!

As we eagerly await the release of the much-anticipated season 20 on Thursday, March 14, 2024, at 9:00 pm ET on ABC, let's rewind the clock and delve into the departure of one of the show's memorable characters – Dr. Preston Burke, portrayed by Isaiah Washington.

Isaiah Washington
National Lab Day Kick-Off Dinner / John M. Heller/GettyImages

For three seasons from 2005 to 2007, Dr. Burke played an important role in the Grey's Anatomy world. However, in a surprising turn of events, Isaiah Washington abruptly exited the show during its third season, leaving fans curious and speculating about the reasons behind his departure.

So, if you've ever wondered why he suddenly exited the show, and have been curious about the circumstances surrounding his departure, you're in the right place! Join us as we uncover all the intriguing details surrounding Isaiah Washington's exit from Grey's Anatomy below!

The truth behind Isaiah Washington's exit from Grey’s Anatomy

If you're a relatively new fan of the medical drama, you might have missed some of the twists and turns in Grey's Anatomy, including the intriguing story behind Isaiah Washington's departure.

After bringing Dr. Burke to life for three seasons, Isaiah Washington found himself exiting the show in a rather unexpected manner. Show creators announced his departure in June 2007, citing a heated argument between Washington and his co-star, Patrick Dempsey. Things took a turn for the worse when Washington reportedly insulted another co-star, T.R. Knight (whose first name is Theodore), using a homophobic slur. T.R. later publicly came out as gay via People, just a few days after the reported altercation.

While Washington initially denied using the slur at the Golden Globes, he later issued an apology via People, stating:

"I apologize to T.R., my colleagues, the fans of the show and especially the lesbian and gay community for using a word that is unacceptable in any context or circumstance. By repeating the word Monday night, I marred what should have been a perfect night for everyone who works on Grey's Anatomy. I can neither defend nor explain my behavior. I can also no longer deny to myself that there are issues I obviously need to examine within my own soul, and I've asked for help."


Despite the controversy, Washington made a guest appearance in the show's 10th season in the episode "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." However, this marked his final appearance on Grey's Anatomy, and in 2023, the actor announced his decision to retire from acting. (Watch his retirement announcement below.)

Make sure to catch the premier of Grey's Anatomy season 20 on Thursday, March 14, 2024, at 9:00 pm ET on ABC!

dark. Next. Why Ellen Pompeo left Grey’s Anatomy. Why Ellen Pompeo left Grey’s Anatomy