In a statement to TVLine, Leigh explains her shocking exit from the show after more than five years playing Meredith Grey's half-sister. The 30-year-old actress says she and show creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes collaborated on how Lexie's story ended.
"Earlier this year, I made the decision that Season Eight would be my last on Grey's Anatomy. I met with Shonda 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. 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."
Leigh was one of two cast members who exited the medical drama in the Season 8 finale. Rhimes confirmed that Kim Raver, whose character was fired from Seattle Grace, would not be returning for Season 9.
"I love Chyler and I love the character of Lexie Grey. She was an important member of my Grey's family. This was not an easy decision. But it was a decision that Chyler and I came to together," Rhimes wrote online hours after Leigh's on-screen death. "We had a lot of thoughtful discussion about it and ultimately we both decided this was the right time for her character's journey to end. As far as I'm concerned Chyler will always remain a part of the Shondaland family and I can't wait to work with her again in the future."
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