Why That Big Grey's Anatomy Exit Happened, According To The Star

Nathan Riggs

Spoilers for the most recent episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Last night's episode of the long running ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy was a shocker. Because besides major moments between Amelia and Owen Hunt, the episode also saw the sudden departure of a series regular. Actor Martin Henderson unexpectedly concluded his run as Nathan Riggs last night, after around two seasons on the series as Owen's former best friend and Meredith's new flame. This departure is sure to take the fandom by surprise, as the love triangle between he, Meredith, and Megan has been a major plot line this season.

Martin Henderson recently opened up to Deadline about Nathan's ending, and how far ahead it was planned.

This is my final year so I was expecting Nathan's storyline to be wrapped up. Bringing in Megan and tying up loose ends, provided a reason. That was always intended when they brought Megan back with a twist. The triangle played out nicely, the way they gave perspective leading up to her disappearance, the mutual infidelity; the way it was handled was interesting. It's been a couple of fun years on the show.

The episode, titled "Danger Zone", featured flashbacks to the moments before Megan Hunt's disappearance in Iraq. Featuring an ensemble made up of Teddy, Owen, Nathan, and Megan, we saw what life was like before her disappearance shattered both she and her loved ones. These flashback sequences helped to explain Riggs' actions toward the end of the episode, where he, Megan, and her son started a new life in California. This will no doubt be a devastating blow to the Meredith/Nathan shippers, as we've seen the series lead get her groove back through her flirtation with the newcomer.

It should be interesting to see how Nathan's departure affects Meredith. She's had a hard time opening herself back up to people romantically, believing that McDreamy was her one true love. Her first attempt at dating was disastrous, as she tried to move on before being ready. But she and Riggs shared mutual loss, which allowed her to explore that part of herself. But once Nathan's true love returned, Meredith quickly pivoted to give them a second chance. Will this make the protagonist even more shut off romantically? I'm going to say yes, and she might even get a little dark and twisty for the first time in years.

Nathan Riggs is the latest in a line of Grey's Anatomy characters who have left the show in succession. Last year's finale was the final outing for Stephanie Edwards, after having a near death experience in the hospital. Sara Ramirez' Callie Torres unceremoniously left the year before, blinding the audience similarly to Nathan's exit. Murphy also returned for a hot second last year, before once again leaving. Plus, Bailey's husband is set to leave the show for the Fire Fighter spinoff.

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays on ABC. Be sure to check out our fall premiere list to plan your next binge watch.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.