Earlier today, the tragedy-prone Shondaland world was dealt with two new horrors: Grey’s Anatomy favourites Jessica Capshaw (who plays Arizona Robbins) and Sarah Drew (who plays April Kepner) will be leaving the show at the end of this season.

It comes after a decade for Capshaw and nine years for Drew.  According to Deadline, which first reported the news, it was a decision made by producers ahead of the potential 15th season.

Ellen Pompeo Bins Claim Her $20M Salary Meant Two ‘Greys’ Stars Were Fired

smile thru the pain 🙂

It also seems to be something of a surprise decision, with Drew telling her Twitter fans that she was told “less than 48 hours” before news broke.

Deadline’s reporting ever so slightly insinuated that the decision may have had something to do with star Ellen Pompeo – a.k.a. Meredith Grey – recent pay increase of $20 million a year, which she detailed in a candid, punch-your-fist-to-the-sky good interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“It’s unfortunate that Deadline chooses to try to pit women against each other on International Women’s Day,” she tweeted in response. “I’m a big girl, Deadline can take shots at me if they want but to the fans please don’t fall into that trip. This is above my pay grade.”

Co-showrunner Krista Vernoff backed her up. “The suggestion in the Deadline article that our cast changes are in any way related to Ellen Pompeo’s salary renegotiation is wrong and hurtful and misguided,” she wrote on Twitter. “It smacks of an old, broken, patriarchal notion that women must be pitted against each other and that one woman’s success will be costly to others. Ellen Pompeo has not only advocated passionately for her fellow cast members, she has taken the time to educate women worldwide as to how to advocate for themselves and that must not now be tweeted.”

She confirmed that the decision was “a creative one”, with the central character of Meredith “the only thing as constant [as] our penchant for reinvention.”

Referring to Drew and Capshaw, she added: “We love these actresses and we love these characters and it felt true and right creatively to wrap up their stories. And that is the whole story.”

In an earlier statement, she had said: “The characters of Arizona and April are permanently woven into the fabric of Grey’s Anatomy thanks to the extraordinary work of Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew. As writers, our job is to follow the stories where they want to go and sometimes that means saying goodbye to characters we love. It has been a joy and a privilege to work with these phenomenally talented actresses.”

Meanwhile, Capshaw praised her character Arizona has being one of the first LGBTQ characters in a series-regular role on television.

Now fans are speculating how April and Arizona will leave Grey Sloane hospital (formerly Seattle Grace). Theories range from April continuing on her alcoholic spiral into a car crash (potentially taking Arizona with her), to April leaving for missionary work and Arizona to study elsewhere thanks to a research grant.

TBH, who knows? Major characters thus far have left the show by plane crash, hospital shooting, car crash, mental breakdowns (Izzy bailing after being cured of cancer), bus crashes, heart attack, old age, or simply leaving to pursue study / work elsewhere. Much like real life, only slightly more dramatic.

Anyway, read series creator Shonda Rhimes‘ statement on the whole thing, if you want to get a bit emotional.

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Image: ABC