Why That Big Grey's Anatomy Exit Happened, According To Shonda Rhimes

Warning: Spoilers ahead for the Grey's Anatomy Season 13 finale. Feel free to check out one of our other fabulous articles until you've caught up.

Well, tonight's Season 13 finale of Grey's Anatomy did it to us again. Fans have lost yet another of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital's popular doctors, as the episode has given us our last taste of Stephanie Edwards and her portrayer, actress Jerrika Hinton. Series creator Shonda Rhimes has come out to let us in on why it had to happen, and it turns out that this might not have been in the cards for the character (at least not so soon) had Hinton not wanted to pursue other projects.

Actors evolve differently and when an actor like Jerrika comes to me and says she wants to try something new creatively, I like to honor that. Jerrika has shared so much of herself with Stephanie and I am incredibly proud of the journey we've taken together. While I'm sad to see Stephanie leave Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, I am excited to see what's next for Jerrika.

If any of you are reading Shonda Rhimes' words to The Hollywood Reporter and wondering why someone would leave a hit show like Grey's Anatomy after only five seasons when the drama is still going strong, you can take heart in the fact that Jerrika Hinton didn't just decide to walk out one day. In March of 2016, Hinton was cast as the lead in the Shondaland comedy pilot Toast, which detailed the shared pasts of a group of wedding rehearsal dinner attendees. Had Toast gone to series, Hinton was planning to pull double duty on both shows, with her time on Grey's getting cut back in the process. As Hinton tells THR, though, when the show wasn't picked up, it forced her to take a long, hard look at where her career was going.

When Toast didn't go, I went away and had a spiritual summer in a lot of ways. Shonda and I had a meeting at the beginning of season 13 where we talked about my departure and my creative process and she was very supportive of my wishes. And I am eternally grateful to her for understanding.

So, with that, Hinton's exit from the series was set in stone. But, if you're worried that Stephanie had a fate like many of the doctors who've departed the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial before her, fear not troubled fan, as Stephanie got to go out as a total badass hero...and she actually LIVED. After blowing up rapist Keith at the end of the previous episode, Stephanie and the little girl, Erin, that Keith had threatened to take hostage, were tasked with dealing with their injuries and somehow getting out of a hospital that was quickly burning down. Stephanie managed to save Erin's life several times, all while walking through fire to get herself and the girl to safety.

jerrika hinton grey's anatomy abc

Stephanie and Erin were saved before the blaze could claim them, but the doctor suffered some pretty serious burns, and while she was being treated for them after things had finally calmed down, she realized that her heart simply wasn't in medicine anymore. While beginning her slow road to recovery, Stephanie told Richard that she's spent her whole life in hospitals, and now she needs to get out, see the world and have her own life instead of just saving the lives of others. Pretty. Deep. Stuff.

Luckily, this isn't the last we've seen of Jerrika Hinton. The actress has already booked her next gig; she'll be a series regular on HBO's new Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, True Blood) drama, Here, Now, which has already gotten a series order from the network. We don't know yet when Hinton's new show will debut, but until we can pass that information along to you, be sure to see what else is hitting the small screen soon with our summer premiere schedule and Netflix premiere guide.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.