8 Shondaland Actors Who Quit Their Shows — and 7 Who Were Let Go

Sara Ramirez, Regé-Jean Page, Portia de Rossi
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When you produce more than 800 episodes of television, as Shonda Rhimes has through her production company, Shondaland, you’re gonna have some cast shakeups along the way.

From the turbulent early years of Grey’s Anatomy to the long-running show’s latest bow-out, we’re recapping more than a dozen other Shondaland cast exits—including departures from Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and Station 19, and Bridgerton.

We may never know what really happened with Patrick Dempsey and Katherine Heigl on Grey’s, but we do have the skinny on other big-name departures from the Shondaland family. And as you’ll see below, some were more amicable than others….

Isaiah Washington
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Isaiah Washington was let go from 'Grey’s Anatomy’ after reportedly using a homophobic slur on set.

“I can apologize only so many times,” Washington says in the book How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy (via Today), referring to the gay slur scandal, which reportedly sparked from a 2006 on-set dust-up with Patrick Dempsey. “I can accept only so much responsibility. I just hope people in the industry can understand that it’s a horrible misunderstanding, what transpired with our show, and it was blown out of proportion.”

Brooke Smith
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Brooke Smith was let go from ‘Grey’s,’ reportedly because ABC execs didn’t like the Erica-Callie storyline.

“I was surprised and disappointed when [producers] just suddenly told me that they couldn’t write for my character anymore,” Smith told Entertainment Weekly in 2008 amid reports that ABC executives disapproved of her character, Erica, and her sexual relationship with Callie (Sara Ramirez).

T.R. Knight
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T.R. Knight quit ‘Grey’s’ after George’s storyline became unfulfilling.

Knight saw his screen time dwindle in Season 5, and he had a “breakdown of communication” with Rhimes, as he told EW in 2009. “My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given [about George],” he added. “And with respect, I’m going to leave it at that.”

Chyler Leigh
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Chyler Leigh quit ‘Grey’s’ to segue into her “next chapter.”

“I made the decision that Season 8 would be my last,” she told TV Line in 2012. “I met with Shonda, and we worked together to give Lexie’s story appropriate closure.”

Sara Ramirez
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Sara Ramirez quit ‘Grey’s’ to take “some welcome time off.”

“I’m deeply grateful to have spent the last 10 years with my family at Grey’s Anatomy and ABC, but for now, I’m taking some welcome time off,” Ramirez said in a statement at the time.

Jessica Capshaw, Sarah Drew
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Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew were let go from ‘Grey’s’ for storyline reasons.

Capshaw and Drew were given their walking papers in 2018. “As writers, our job is to follow the stories where they want to go, and sometimes that means saying goodbye to characters we love,” showrunner Krista Vernoff explained to Deadline at the time.

Audra McDonald
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Audra McDonald quit ‘Private Practice’ for more family time.

“Though I am stepping away from the series as a regular in order to spend more time in New York with my family, I am not closing the door on Private Practice or the character Naomi,” McDonald told TV Line in 2011.

Tim Daly
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Tim Daly was let go from ‘Private Practice’ for “budgetary reasons.”

“We wanted to afford to keep the show going, and that was not necessarily an easy choice to make,” Rhimes added in a 2012 TV Guide interview.

Columbus Short
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Columbus Short was let go from ‘Scandal’ amid personal troubles..

“I was struggling with drugs,” Short told Access Hollywood in 2014. “I had a lot on my plate, and you know, I was using unhealthy ways to kind of self-medicate and deal with a lot of heavy-duty stuff in my life.”

Portia de Rossi
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Portia de Rossi quit ‘Scandal’ to follow a business opportunity.

“It was my decision but not because I no longer wanted to be part of the show. It was more because I found a great business opportunity I wanted to pursue that was taking my interest away from acting and a career I’ve had for 20-plus years,” de Rossi told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017, likely referring to her new art company, General Public.

Alfred Enoch
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Alfred Enoch was let go from ‘How to Get Away With Murder’ for creative reasons.

“The decision was creative,” Enoch revealed to Entertainment Weekly in 2016. “I didn’t become an actor to have a steady job.… I’ve always enjoyed being able to go and do something else in the hiatus if you can find something that fits in or if anyone will give you a job. It’s nice from that perspective, but it’s not like the show and its schedule don’t allow that to be the case.”

Regé-Jean Page
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Regé-Jean Page quit ‘Bridgerton,’ content with his closed-ended story.

Discussing Page’s decision to exit after one season, Rhimes told Variety recently: “Rightfully, he said, ‘I signed up to do this one lovely story, this closed-ended storyline. I’m good!’ And I don’t blame him for that. I think that he was really smart to leave the perfection as the perfection.”

Okieriete Onaodowan
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

Okieriete Onaodowan reportedly quit ‘Station 19’ to move on to other pursuits.

“I am grateful I got to work with the most loving, kind and dedicated crew in network TV. And most importantly, thanks to the fans for showing Dean so much love,” Onaodowan said in a statement.

Richard Flood

Richard Flood left ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ to “see what else is out there.”

Flood told Deadline he was happy that the powers that be at Grey’s agreed with him that Cormac’s story was “probably coming to its natural end,” adding that his tenure on the show was as long a gig as he wanted and that he was “eager to see what else is out there” in terms of TV and film work.