Both actresses have been integral parts of the Grey’s core for the last decade, with Drew first joining as Dr. April Kepner, attending trauma surgeon, in the sixth season and Capshaw coming aboard as Dr. Arizona Robbins, attending pediatric and head of fetal surgery, in season five. So what does this mean for their characters now that their time at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital will be coming to an end?
The departure of Capshaw from Grey’s is a major blow to the LGBTQ community, as Arizona represents one of the few lesbian characters currently on television. Arizona’s storylines had gotten noticeably less involved following the exit of Sara Ramirez, who played Arizona’s ex-wife, Callie Torres, at the end of season 12, with Arizona at the center of a handful of failed relationships as she struggled to adjust to her new life chapter.
At the start of this season, though, it appeared things were ramping up for Arizona through the introduction of Andrew DeLuca’s sister and OB/GYN, Carina (Stefania Spampinato), with the two embarking on a hot new romance, teaming up for a hospital-wide medical competition and learning that they advanced. Though the couple has suffered the occasional bump in the road, isn’t that what makes for juicy drama? Other possibilities for Arizona’s goodbye: With her daughter, Sofia, living in New York with Callie, could Arizona make the decision to be closer? Perhaps Arizona wins the medical competition and as a result, relocates? Would Grey’s dare kill its only lesbian character?
For April, her biggest connection to Grey’s is the young daughter she shares with ex-husband and fellow Grey Sloan colleague, Dr. Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams), with whom she’s had a rocky relationship as of late, especially with Jackson seemingly moving on romantically with Meredith’s half-sister, Dr. Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary). At the moment, April — who was introduced in season six as a devout Christian — has abandoned her buttoned-up image, sleeping with interns, partying and drinking … a lot, a combination that may not bode well for her future.
Interestingly, April and Arizona shared a connective thread that could offer a large hint as to one potential avenue in which their arcs are wrapped up. The emotional death of patient Karin Taylor, the wife of April’s ex-fiance, Matthew, during childbirth appeared to impact April and Arizona the most and could be the precursor to their Grey Sloan farewells, with the former in a downward spiral, losing her faith in God and making rash, un-April-like decisions. Could April losing faith in God be a major reason for her to leave Grey Sloan? It certainly would seem on brand for the character and we’re nearly positive it has to be the driving force for April to make a life-altering decision. (Or, the hospital could blow up, again, and April — gravely injured — realizes there’s much more to life than medicine and leaves Seattle for greener pastures? Anything goes on Grey’s.)
After news of the departures was made official Thursday morning, Drew and Capshaw issued their own statements, suggesting that they didn’t see their exits coming.
“I know you’re sad. I’m sad too. I haven’t really had the time to process this information. I’ve been with it for less than 48 hours, so I’m not ready to say my thank yous and give an all encompassing statement about my 9 years here. That will come later,” Drew wrote. “For now, I’d like to say: I love you, and I love April, and her story isn’t over yet.”
Capshaw issued a similarly sentimental statement, writing, “I am sad to see [Arizona] go, but I am consoled by the idea that she will continue to live on and on in all of our consciences and our imaginations.”
Considering how surprised Drew and Capshaw both appeared to be in receiving the news that they would no longer be returning for a likely season 15, it would be safe to assume that something terribly shocking may happen by season’s end that could possibly explain April and Arizona’s departures. Another hospital explosion? An untimely life decision? Something completely unexpected?
Though Grey’s isn’t afraid of killing off fan favorites, our fingers are crossed that April and Arizona make it through the end of the season alive so the door is left open for the occasional cameo by Drew and Capshaw in future seasons. And we’re not the only ones with a similar thought, with creator Shonda Rhimes saying that the two actresses “will always be a part of our Shondaland family.”
With less than a dozen episodes left to go before the season wraps up, your guess is as good as ours with how Grey’s will send April and Arizona off into the sunset.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.