Why Is Kelly McCreary Leaving Grey’s Anatomy? Her Surprise Exit Marks Yet Another Major Cast Departure
Sad news, Grey’s fans. We will be saying farewell to another fan favorite after nine seasons on ABC’s hit medical drama. Why is Kelly McCreary leaving Grey’s Anatomy? We’ve got all the details, below.
McCreary played the role of Maggie Pierce, the half-sister of Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and daughter of Ellis Grey (Kate Burton) and Chief Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) since season 10. She eventually became a regular cast member during season 11 and reprised her role in the firefighter-centered spin-off series, Station 19.
McCreary’s departure comes as the show endures major cast and production changes. The first is Pompeo’s slow exit from the show, which was confirmed in August 2022 by SOAPS’ sister publication, Deadline. Pompeo is departing the drama to focus on an untitled limited series at Hulu, scaling back the actress’ role as Meredith. There are also rumors that Debbie Allen, an executive producer who also plays Catherine Fox, is leaving the show after her character’s aggressive cancer returned.
In another major twist for the TV series, showrunner Krista Vernoff, chosen by creator Shonda Rhimes to take over the drama when Rhimes left for Netflix, announced that she would also be leaving Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 in January 2023. Vernoff previously served as the head writer and executive producer until season 7.
As for more details about why Kelly McCreary leaving Grey’s Anatomy and what her exit will look like moving forward, read on to learn everything we know.
Why is Kelly McCreary leaving Grey’s Anatomy?
Why is Kelly McCreary leaving Grey’s Anatomy? According to Deadline, McCreary’s exit was “carefully planned,” as the actress reportedly approached producers ahead of time about her desire to leave to pursue other opportunities. “Kelly McCreary is a writer’s dream come true; brilliant, nuanced, thoughtful, and kind,” Vernoff told the publication. “We will deeply miss her and her beautifully crafted Dr. Maggie Pierce.”
McCreary thanked Rhimes, Vernoff and ABC for what she calls an opportunity to be part of a “legendary television institution.” McCreary continued a statement to Deadline: “After nine seasons, I am saying goodbye to Maggie Pierce and her Grey Sloan family… Playing Maggie Pierce has been one of the true joys of my life, and I leave with profound gratitude for every step of this journey. I am excited for this next chapter, and what the future holds.”
The actress also expressed how much she has learned from her castmates and crew in her almost decade of working on the show. “To spend nine years exploring a character inside and out, while reaching a global audience with impactful stories, is a rare gift. It has afforded me an opportunity to collaborate with, learn from, and be inspired by countless brilliant artists both in front of and behind the camera,” she added.
McCreary’s been a core member of the Grey’s cast since she became a series regular in the eleventh episode of season 11. She even met her now husband, Pete Chatmon, on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, and the couple got married in 2019. McCreary took a short break at the start of season 18 to give birth to their first daughter, Indigo Wren, in October 2021.
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McCreary shared an Instagram post highlighting standout moments on the series and further expressed her thanks. “9 seasons, 200 episodes, scores of heroic surgeries, countless brave patients, dozens of delightful sister house scenes, 1 episode with my real-life sister, some loss and some grief, a few ghostly visitations from mothers, a handful of boyfriends, 2 gorgeous weddings, a bunch of drunken emotional breakdowns, 1 high-speed chase, several awkward dinner parties, 1 punch taken (1 punch thrown), at least 1 pratfall, buckets of tears, innumerable fits of laughter, all the medical jargon mastered, a slew of friends for life, myriad collaborators who grew me as an artist, 1 grateful heart and 1 massive THANK YOU. What a ride!,” the post said.
Pompeo also publicly gave her congratulations to her TV half-sister on Instagram. She wrote: “Congratulations Kelly Thanks so much for your super hard work and the valuable contributions you’ve made to the Grey’s legacy. Looking forward to your next chapter. Lots of love, EP.”
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Leading up to her exit, the actress talked with People Magazine in April 2023 about how she is processing departing the show.”It’s a whirlwind. Honestly, the weirdest thing happens. I stand on sets and I flashback to the very first time I was ever on that set and it’s a real trip. I can smell the smells and see the bright lights and I remember every detail of things I haven’t thought about in nine years,” she told the publication at PaleyFest 2023. The actress also praised the next generation of interns taking over the show. “I always say it’s the new blood, it’s the new life, it’s the new stories, it’s the new characters that makes this show just so special and you just keep leaning in. So I’m excited about the future of the show.”
How will Kelly McCreary be written out of Grey’s Anatomy?
Fans also might be wondering: How will Kelly McCreary be written out of Grey’s Anatomy? Deadline reports that McCreary’s last episode will air on April 13, 2023. Similar to how Pompeo is being written off the show, Maggie will make another appearance in the two-hour Season 19 finale, which will air on Thursday, May 18, 2023 at 9 p.m. on ABC.
Maggie’s final storyline revolves around marital problems between her character, the head of cardiothoracic surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, and her partner Winston Ndugu (Anthony Hill), a cardiothoracic surgeon. The couple started having issues in the season 18 finale, which was prompted by her asking if they rushed into marriage without knowing things about each other. Unfortunately, their problems have only worsened, and they have found themselves stuck in a changeless situation with no solution in sight, resulting in Maggie moving in with Amelia and seeking advice from her dad.
In season 19, episode 10, Maggie reached out to Richard and asked how he and Catherine knew what they were going through was a rough patch or something more “malignant.” Richard reassured Maggie that she and Winston have so much love between them and that whatever it is, they will work through it. The writers will likely continue honing into Maggie and Winston’s tumultuous relationship leading up to her farewell episode on April 13.
In the episode on April 6, 2023, before her planned departure, Maggie and Winston went to couple’s therapy. Maggie spoke about an amazing job opportunity at the Heart Center of Chicago. When Winston said that he’d already relocated across the country for her, Pierce had to leave the room to deal with a patient trauma call. At the end of the episode, Pierce told Winston that she was leaving Seattle to move to Chicago.
In the TV promo for tonight’s episode, we see Pierce’s last day at Grey Sloan and the doctor saying her final goodbyes to her coworkers. Tune into the two-hour episode on April 13, 2023, to see Pierce’s emotional farewell. Thankfully, we’ll see Maggie Pierce again later in Season 19 (most likely in the finale episode when Pompeo will return for the last time).
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursday at 9 p.m. on ABC.
For more on Grey’s Anatomy, check out our photo gallery on the Grey’s Anatomy cast’s real-life relationships.