Last month, Sara Ramirez sent her fans into a tizzy when she tweeted something vaguely resembling a farewell to Grey’s Anatomy, where she has been a principal character since the show’s third season. As it turns out, the concern was justified. On May 20, Ramirez announced her departure on Instagram, just a few days before she told producer Shonda Rhimes.

As Rhimes explained to Stacey Wilson Hunt at the Vulture Festival, Ramirez’s character, Dr. Callie Torres, had not been marked for the offing. Fortunately, season twelve’s finale enables Rhimes to write her out of the show without much complication. Via Vulture:

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“‘I found out maybe three days before you guys [the public] found out,’ Rhimes revealed during a conversation with Stacey Wilson Hunt...This departure, indeed, was different from all the others: ‘It wasn’t a big, planned thing. I had a different plan going and then Sara came and said, ‘I really need to take a break.’ I was sort of lucky that we had shot the end of the season with her going to New York.’”

The parting, however, is an amicable one. Rhimes told Hunt, “I love the woman, and I want everything for her, so it all worked out in that sense.” She also posted a loving tribute to Sara/Callie on Twitter making it clear that Ramirez remains in her good graces (a Katherine Heigl scenario this is not).

We’re inclined to mourn when characters leave our favorite shows, and Grey’s characters tend to depart under especially intense and tragic circumstances. But Rhimes reminds viewers that drama series tend to run for no more than four seasons. With Grey’s entering its thirteenth season, we should expect storylines to reach their conclusions. Citing the example of Sandra Oh’s character, Dr. Christina Yang, Rhimes remarks to Hunt, “The idea that Sandra did it for 10 seasons and then decided to go was...Because I know what that is for an actor: You itch to do something new or take a break.”

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As for Rhimes herself, she claims that she’ll stick with the show as long as there’s a Dr. Meredith Grey somewhere in the plot. And so far, Ellen Pompeo is content to continue portraying the title character. “I’m always constantly amazed when Ellen is ready to re-up,” Rhimes says. “Our pact is that we’ll go together. When she goes, I go.”

Consider, for a moment, social media on the night of the Grey’s Anatomy series finale. Twitter will dissolve into a scramble of lyrics from The Fray and Snow Patrol. YouTube will self-destruct under the weight of fan videos and montage tributes. Shonda, when you’re ready to pull the plug, please make sure you’ve emotionally readied your viewers. The fate of the internet may depend upon it.


Images via Getty, Instagram, Twitter.