Grey’s Anatomy season 17, episode 17 airs tonight (Thursday, April 1) on ABC. Chyler Leigh will make her return to the world of Grey’s Anatomy after nine years in tonight’s emotional episode but why did she leave the long-medical drama in 2012? Express.co.uk has everything you need to know about Leigh and her character, Lexie Grey.
Why did Chyler Leigh leave Grey’s Anatomy? What happened to Lexie Grey?
Chyler Grey starred in Grey’s Anatomy on ABC from 2007 until 2012.
She also reprised her role on the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off series, Private Practice.
She played the role of Lexie Grey, making her debut in series three.
Lexie is Meredith Grey’s (played by Ellen Pompeo) half-sister and a former doctor at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.
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The majority of Lexie’s storyline involved her on-off-again relationship with Mark Sloan (Eric Dane).
Sadly, both Mark and Lexie died in a plane crash in the season eight finale in 2012 and as a result, the Seattle Gracey Mercy West hospital was renamed Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in their memory.
Leigh will return in episode 17 of Grey’s Anatomy as part of Meredith’s recurring beach dreams, where she is reunited with those close to her who have died.
In the promo trailer for episode 17, Meredith tells Lexie she “likes it here”, referring to the beach in her dream, to which Lexie ominously replies: “Are you going to stay?”
The most recent death on the show was Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) and earlier in the series, Meredith was reunited with Derek Shepherd (Patrick Demsey).
Meredith was also reunited with George O’Malley (TR Knight) in a December 2020 episode.
In a statement to TV Line in June 2012, Leigh revealed it was her own decision to leave Grey’s Anatomy but did give details as to why she decided to leave.
The statement read: “Earlier this year, I made the decision that Season eight would be my last on Grey’s Anatomy.
“I met with [creator Shonda Rhimes] and we worked together to give Lexie’s story appropriate closure.
“I am very lucky to have worked with this amazing cast and crew for five seasons.
“My experience on Grey’s Anatomy is something that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”
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Leigh continued: “I want to take this time to say thank you to the fans.
“Your unconditional love and support have made these last five years very special for me. I look forward to my next chapter and I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey.”
Creator Shonda Rhimes at the time of Leigh’s departure reflected on Lexie’s ending.
She said: “It was important to me that her exit would have maximum impact.
“The plane was going to crash no matter what. I honestly wasn’t sure, because of contract negotiations, who was going to die in that crash.
“In my early finale plans, once I knew Chyler was leaving the show, Lexie wasn’t originally even on the plane.”
Who is Chyler Leigh?
Chyler Leigh is an American actress, singer and model from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Since leaving Grey’s Anatomy in 2012, Leigh has gone on to appear in several films and television series.
Leigh is best known for her role as Alex Danvers in the DC Comics series Supergirl.
She also appeared as Alex Danvers in Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash and Arrow.
Grey’s Anatomy fans may also recognise Leigh from her roles as Cat in Taxi Brooklyn and Molly Reins in Brake.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays on ABC