Kelly McCreary Reveals The Reasons Why She Left ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ After 9 Seasons

Kelly McCreary said she believes there is a time for all actors and characters to move on when addressing her Season 19 departure from 'Greys Anatomy' in a recent interview.

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Kelly McCreary as Maggie Pierce on 'Grey's Anatomy'
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Kelly McCreary‘s Grey’s Anatomy character of Maggie Pierce has officially left Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. In two new episodes that aired on April 13, Maggie said her farewell to begin a new journey at the Heart Center of Chicago — an incredible opportunity for her career. Maggie’s departure also followed weeks of marital problems with her husband, Winston Ndugu, which were never resolved and leave a big question mark for viewers. Now, Kelly, 41, has revealed why she decided to depart the long-running ABC medical drama.

Kelly’s character headed the famous hospital’s cardiothoracic surgery department since the end of the show’s 10th season, which means Kelly was on the show for nine years. She simply thought it was time for her and her character to move on. “I just kept thinking about how the show really is about people showing up at the hospital and growing up and learning a lot of hard lessons and becoming the best version of themselves and then at some point, for whatever reason, the actors and characters move on, usually after a pretty long period of time,” she explained to Deadline in a chat published April 13. She noted that she began thinking her time was up at the end of Season 18.

Kelly McCreary as Maggie Pierce on 'Grey's Anatomy'
Kelly McCreary as Maggie Pierce on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ (Photo: ABC)

“Maggie came here on a very specific mission; she came to Seattle, to Grey Sloan, to know more about her family — and by extension herself — and every season I asked that question, has Maggie figured out what she wants, does she have a new question?” Kelly explained. “I wondered if the struggles she was facing, the compatibility questions she was having with her husband were really questions about herself and who she really was and what she really wanted, and I thought, maybe that’s a sign that it’s time for her to move on. And so I went to [showrunner] Krista [Vernoff] and I said, ‘I think it’s I think it’s time for Maggie to move on.’”

When asked about if she had any say in how Maggie departed Grey Sloan, Kelly said she was not too fussy about it. “I knew I might be throwing a wrench into their plans with the request so I was open to anything. I was like, ‘Look, if you’ve got to kill me I get it, tragic things happen to Meredith’s friends and family all the time, so if that’s where we have to go out, I understand,'” she recalled. “But they have something else in mind, and I think it really is in keeping with the journey that Maggie has been on, which is growing into more and more of herself as she discovers who that is. … It wasn’t my idea for her to go out the way that she did but I was consulted on the pitch, and I thought it was a great idea. I was really happy with that.”

Kelly McCreary as Maggie Pierce on 'Grey's Anatomy'
Maggie Pierce and her husband, Winston Ndugu, on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ (Photo: ABC)

Kelly confirmed, however, that Maggie will return for the season 19 finale, which is scheduled for May 18. She hinted that she and Winston may tie up some loose strings and decide in what direction to go with their relationship. “I honestly don’t know [if they will stay long distance],” she debated. “But what I think is really great is that these two characters shared this enormous success. And Winston has the opportunity to build from that too. I think they both might have an awakening of their ambition. So I can’t say because I don’t know, but I think that they’re both set on a positive course because of the work they did together.”

Of course, Kelly is just one of several characters to step away from the show over the years. The show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, left in 2017 after 12 years of dedication. Meanwhile, the show’s lead, Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey), has hinted about her inevitable departure for quite some time. She took a step back from the series during Season 19 when her character moved to Boston during the season premiere in February. She is slated to return for the season finale along with Kelly. Furthermore, key players Jesse Williams (Jackson Avery), Sara Ramirez (Callie Torres), Sandra Oh (Cristina Yang), and more have departed as well.