The last few years have seen several long-time cast members check out of Seattle Grace, but I bet fans never expected that they would have to say goodbye to "McSteamy" himself this soon.
News broke last night that Grey's Anatomy creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes has decided to write the character of Mark "McSteamy" Sloan out of the show, which of course also means that Grey's will soon be seeing the last appearance of long-time cast member Eric Dane. Dane joined the medical drama on a recurring basis way back in season two, moved up to regular status the following year, and has been making the hearts of Seattle Grace's female staff melt ever since.
Rhimes issued the following statement about her decision - "After much consideration and conversations, he and I have decided that this is the right time for his storyline to end. We’re a big family here at Grey‘s with a long history together and Eric will always remain an important part of our family."
This move continues Rhimes' odd tradition of choosing to let popular characters go, rather then waiting until the actor or actress decides to leave. Most long-running shows hang onto their main cast with a death grip until the show gets canceled or they beg producers to leave, making Rhimes ongoing pattern of voluntarily axing stars from her various series strange to say the least. Last season's finale already saw Rhimes kill off Chyler Leigh's character, and write out Kim Raver's "Teddy". Rhimes also recently opted to not renew Tim Daly's contract with Private Practice.
To his credit, Dane responded to the news with class - "I am extremely grateful to everyone at Grey’s, ABC and Shondaland for the experience and memories I have had over the course of this run. It has been wonderful to work alongside and learn from a creative force, such as Shonda Rhimes."
Will Eric Dane's departure hurt Grey's Anatomy?