Why did Katherine Heigl leave Grey's Anatomy? Everything she's said about her exit

75th Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
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Where are all my OG Grey's Anatomy fans? Remember, the iconic character Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl)? Surely you haven't forgotten the bubbly, confident, yet stubborn doctor. Fans still can't get over Katherine Heigl's exit from the hit medical drama series even though it's been over a decade since her departure. But why did she leave the show? We shared everything we know about Heigl's exit right below.

Katherine is one of the original cast members of Grey's Anatomy. She portrayed the role of Izzie Stevens for 120 episodes of the medical drama series before departing during its sixth season. Throughout seasons 1-6, we saw Izzie go through many ups and downs in her personal life and medical career. But what we weren't expecting was for the sixth season to be the last time we'd see her.

The last time Katherine appeared as Izzie in Grey's Anatomy was in the twelfth episode of season 6. The episode is titled "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked." Her character was basically written off the show. After finding out that she's cancer-free and that Alex doesn't want to continue their marriage, Izzie decides to leave Seattle for a fresh new start somewhere else. It was such a sad scene to watch, and we still think about it to this day. But the good news is that Izzie wasn't killed off. That means we could possibly see her come back in a future season.

Katherine Heigl
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Here's why Katherine Heigl left Grey's Anatomy

In a 2010 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Katherine mentioned that two of the reasons for her leaving Grey's Anatomy was because she had started a family and wanted to stop working full-time.

"My life changed so dramatically in the last six years. I started a family, and it changed everything for me. It changed my desire to work full-time."

Katherine Heigl

Katherine also spoke in the same interview about how she wanted to still be a part of the show and be a mom at the same time, but the creative team behind Grey's Anatomy wasn't able to figure out a way to make it happen without negatively affecting the show's production process.

"[Shonda] wanted to try to figure out how I could do both [parenting and Grey’s], and I kind of wanted to do both. But at the end of the day, there wasn’t a great way to compromise the work schedule that didn’t negatively affect the crew or the cast. It wasn’t feeling fair to them or the show to ask them to bend around my needs."

Katherine Heigl

Katherine revealed later in a 2022 interview with Sirius XM host Bevy Smith that her constant anxiety and stress while shooting the medical drama series is what led to her departure in 2010.

"I think with 'Grey's' at that time, I didn't feel I had any other choice [but to leave]. I was breaking, it was breaking me, and I was young. I didn't know how to get through it. I hadn't garnered enough experience and wisdom yet to get myself through it with less heightened anxiety. I was vibrating at a level that I was going to get sick, and I did get mentally sick. "

Katherine Heigl

She told Smith that she was "at a level of intensity that wasn't healthy for her" and that she just "fled in a panic." However, she also told Smith that she has a bit of regret over departing Grey's Anatomy.

"I look back at it and sometimes I go, 'God, I wish I had just calmed down a moment. Taken a breath, thought it through, had some conversations about this possibility. What about this possibility? How about if I do, you know, just this many episodes a season? Like, if I could have found a way to work within it, that could have also worked for me."

Katherine Heigl

Check out the interview below.

Although not confirmed, there were rumors that Katherine's departure stemmed from her asking the Academy to not consider her for an Emmy nomination back in 2008, as well as her previous comments in 2009 about the demanding work environment on the Grey's Anatomy set. After these incidents, Katherine was given the descriptor as "difficult" to work with.

There was even a rumor that she and Shonda Rhimes (the show's creator) were feuding and that the bad blood between them had something to do with her exit, but this was never confirmed either.

The real reason behind Katherine's exit was revealed to be because of family obligations, and that she was fed up with the harsh working conditions taking a toll on her mental health.

What are your thoughts on Katherine Heigl's exit from Grey's Anatomy?

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