Fans say goodbye to two irreplaceable characters on “Grey’s Anatomy”

By Abby Fleming ’20

“Grey’s Anatomy” characters leave all the time. Actors move on and their characters meet a crazy fate. In the wise words of Meredith Grey, “Everybody is leaving and everybody is dying.” Head writer, creator and executive producer of the series, Shonda Rhimes, seamlessly fills the holes left by departing characters, often making viewers forget (at least for a little while) that their favorite character is gone for good. However, in the most recent episode, which aired on May 24, two characters were written off that will never be forgotten, let alone replaced: April Kepner and Arizona Robbins.

The two women portraying them, Sarah Drew (April Kepner) and Jessica Capshaw (Arizona Robbins) departed from the series based on reasons, “strictly on the show’s creative direction,” according to executive producer Krista Vernoff. The show has been running for a total of 14 seasons so far, and according to recent reports, it has recently been renewed for two more, making it understandable that cast members will come and go. In the last episode of season 14, fans learned that the next two seasons would take place without April or Arizona, who have made some of the most significant contributions to the show.

Personally, I don’t see how there can be a “Grey’s Anatomy” without either of these women; they’re too important. April Kepner is the glue that holds an often dueling group of doctors together. Her positivity, unwavering faith and strength keeps her and everyone around her grounded. Without her voice of reason, it’s likely the next few seasons will consist of wars between doctors, when it’s so much more entertaining to see them having fun working together. The episodes with fights or grudges held amongst doctors typically don’t make for a good show. The best episodes are with the strangest illnesses that come in, causing the surgeons to work together to find a cure. It brings up a lot of ethical dilemmas; what parts of the body can someone live without, but not function without?

It’s these ethical grey areas that make for the most entertaining episodes. When viewers get to think with the doctors, they are also absorbed into the drama and the patient’s backstory. Nobody wants to watch doctors fight all of the time when you know they’ll end up forgiving each other soon. Without April Kepner, fans of the series are in for a lot of wars between doctors and less of what they really want to see.

Without Arizona, on the other hand, viewers will be missing the realness she brought. She’s one of the most well liked and respected surgeons at the hospital, but she struggles all the time. Whether it’s her love life, surgical decisions or switching her specialty, viewers are drawn into watching her make real life decisions. She’s one of the few doctors who wasn’t born into a legacy, like Meredith Grey and Jackson Avery were. She worked so hard for what she achieved, and it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies.

I think this is what makes her the most relatable character. She second guesses herself, she overthinks and she’s unsure. Those are qualities that real people posses and struggle with. They’re also important to showcase in a show about surgeons, who perform tasks that would make most people pass out.

By making Arizona such a relatable character, the writers brought a lot of realness into the show. I don’t think I would have been able to watch a medical drama series about a bunch of crazy skilled, confident doctors; it’s impressive, but it’s not captivating to watch.

I strongly believe “Grey’s Anatomy” is about to go downhill without the presence of April and Arizona. Viewers won’t just be missing these two women, but they’ll be missing the positivity April exudes and the truthfulness that is told through Arizona’s story. “Grey’s Anatomy” is going to feel like a whole new show without these two familiar faces.