Oh, who has played the brilliant Dr. Cristina Yang since the show's debut, had previously signed a two-year contract going into the eighth season of the ABC medical drama. As first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, no additional castmembers are expected to leave at this time.
"It's been a great privilege to play the character of Cristina Yang on Grey's Anatomy, and I am both sad and excited to see where this, her final season will take her," Oh said in a statement. "It was an emotional and deeply creative decision for me and I feel fully supported by [executive producer Shonda Rhimes] and the writers. It's so rare in an actor's life to be able to explore and grow a character so fully, so completely. I am profoundly grateful to everyone at GA for the opportunity. I'm excited to celebrate and cherish every moment of my final season on GA with the fans who have made it all possible."
Throughout her time on Grey's, Oh has earned five Emmy nominations for her role on the ABC medical drama. "One of the best days of my life as a writer happened the day Sandra Oh walked in my door to audition and forever changed the course of Grey's Anatomy with her brilliant, nuanced portrayal of Cristina Yang," Rhimes said in a statement. " Over the past 10 seasons, I have been made better by Sandra's trust, faith and friendship and I can't quantify how grateful I am for her collaboration on a character we both love so deeply. This year is going to be bittersweet for us — we're both going to savor every moment of Cristina Yang and then we're going to give her the exit she deserves. And when Sandra walks out of my door, Grey's Anatomy will be once again be forever changed."
It's unclear what this means for Cristina and Owen (Kevin McKidd), who called it quits in the Season 9 finale. After realizing she would never want to get in the way of Owen's happiness, Cristina walked away from him, seemingly ending their relationship once again. Still, Rhimes said after the finale that Cristina and Owen "absolutely" still love each other.
"We're going to watch them grapple with what it means to have broken up at the end of the season and what that means for their future," Rhimes recently told TVGuide.com. "For both of them, the hard part is that they love each other. They want very, very different things, but they love each other. If only she'd want to have babies, or if only he'd give up wanting kids, they'd be fine."
Oh's impending exit will surely send Grey's fans into a frenzy since multiple other actors' contracts will be up as well. Patrick Dempsey, Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. were also among those who signed the two-year deal with Oh. The future for the other actors is as yet unclear.
However, Rhimes has expressed that she isn't looking at Season 10 — which will feature the momentous 200th episode — as the end of the series. ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee confirmed as much at the Television Critics Association fall TV previews when he said the network expects the show to "go on for many, many years to come."
"It's our intention to have Grey's on the air for many years to come, with as many of the original cast as possible," ABC said in a statement.
Lee also noted that Rhimes was "planning a number of series out[s]," so Oh's departure might not be the only one. "What's nice is I've been through this before because we had to try to prepare for it at the end of Season 8," Rhimes recently told us of the possibility of having to write out original characters. "Having been through it before, I have a different attitude about it. I've asked very clearly that I'd like to know things sooner rather than later so that I can plan. Every last one of the originals that we have left is very special to me, and if we're going to have anybody exit, I really wanted the time to plan and write and execute really fitting and beautiful ends for those characters."
Will you miss Oh on the show? How do you think Cristina should be written out? Hit the comments!
Grey's Anatomy returns for a two-hour Season 10 premiere on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9/8c on ABC.