Grey’s Anatomy: What we all really suspected about Katherine Heigl’s departure

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ABC’s medical drama Grey’s Anatomy is famous for its ever-changing cast. During its long run (which some consider too long), fans have seen several of their favorite characters leave the show.

Their departure is usually explained through dramatic storylines that lead to them moving out of Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital, sometimes even dying, as happened to Patrick Dempsey’s Derek Shepherd. However, only a few outings garnered significant audience attention, not only because of the on-screen drama but also because of what happened off-screen. One of those was the departure of Katherine Heigl.

Rumors surrounding Heigl’s departure from the medical drama cite the actress’s fractured relationship with the creative team as the main reason Izzie Stevens was written off the series. Heigl’s decision to withdraw from consideration for the 2008 Emmy Awards, followed by her statement explaining that she did not feel the material deserved it, was perceived as a public attack on the show’s writers. This caused Heigl to be nicknamed “difficult” for the rest of her career.

However, Katherine Heigl’s real reason for leaving Grey’s Anatomy was her motherhood. During season 6, the actress went on maternity leave after adopting her first child, which explains Izzie’s temporary departure earlier in the season.

After spending time as a mother, the actress decided to focus more on her family, so she returned for a few episodes to wrap up Izzie’s story before officially leaving the series. Heigl also admitted to regretting the way she expressed her discontent with the show’s writers, but she pointed out the industry’s tendency to stigmatize women who express her opinions.

Regardless of the circumstances behind Katherine Heigl’s departure from Grey’s Anatomy, her character was loved by many and the fact that Izzie hasn’t been seen in the years since has been disappointing. At least season 16 offered closure to many fans through Alex and Izzie’s reunion, despite Izzie not physically appearing.