‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Star Kelly McCreary to Exit Series

The actress has played Maggie Pierce, Meredith Grey’s sister, on the ABC medical drama series since Season 11

Kelly McCreary as Maggie Pierce in a still from "Grey's Anatomy"

Grey Sloan Memorial is saying goodbye to another key member of its staff in Season 19. Kelly McCreary, who joined the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy” as a series regular in Season 11, as Meredith Grey’s half-sister Maggie Pierce, will exit the ABC series in Season 19.

Maggie’s final episode as a series regular is set to air April 13 but, like Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith, she is set to return for visits in future installments this season.

“After nine seasons, I am saying goodbye to Maggie Pierce and her Grey Sloan family. It has been a tremendous honor to be a part of such a legendary television institution as “Grey’s Anatomy,”” McCreary said in a statement. “I will always be grateful to Shonda Rhimes, Krista Vernoff and ABC for the opportunity, and to the incredible fans for their passionate support. To spend nine years exploring a character inside and out, while reaching a global audience with impactful stories, is a rare gift. It has afforded me an opportunity to collaborate with, learn from, and be inspired by countless brilliant artists both in front of and behind the camera. Playing Maggie Pierce has been one of the true joys of my life and I leave with profound gratitude for every step of this journey. I am excited for this next chapter, and what the future holds.”

The news comes as Maggie’s faced a crossroads in her career and relationship with husband Winston (Anthony Hill) on the medical drama. The couple has been on the outs for a few episodes, after a disagreement on how they view the importance of their careers over their personal lives. Deadline reports McCreary approached producers about her interest in pursuing opportunities outside of “Grey’s,” which lead them to plan Maggie’s Season 19 storyline as a launching pad for the character to exit the series.

“Kelly McCreary is a writer’s dream come true; brilliant, nuanced, thoughtful, and kind. We will deeply miss her and her beautifully crafted Dr. Maggie Pierce,” showrunner and executive producer Krista Vernoff said in a statement.

Maggie was first introduced as the new head of cardiothoracic surgery in the final episodes of Season 10, as Sandra Oh’s Christina Yang prepped for her exit from the hospital. The final moments of the Season 10 finale featured her revealing to Richard (James Pickens Jr.) that she was Ellis Grey’s biological daughter (the product of her affair with Richard). The series explored the growing bond between Meredith, Maggie and Richard as a major plot point, to the point where Maggie became one of the pillars of the series. McCreary has been a series regular since Season 11, and only took a short break in the beginning of Season 18, when she gave birth to her first child with director Pete Chatmon, whom she had met on the set of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The show is undergoing major changes in Season 19. Pompeo exited “Grey’s” as a series regular after the Feb. 23 episode, though she continues to serve as narrator for the show’s opening and closing monologues and as an executive producer for both “Grey’s” and sibling series “Station 19.” She is expected to return for an on-camera appearance for the Season 19 finale.

Vernoff also shared in January her plans to exit her role as executive producer and showrunner at the end of both shows’ current seasons. A renewal order for both shows is a near certainty.

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to be entrusted to run ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ for the past six years and ‘Station 19’ for the last four,” Vernoff said in a statement at the time. “The passion of the dedicated fandoms and the impact that these shows have on hearts and minds cannot be overstated. The amount of talent in these two extraordinary casts and these two brilliant writers rooms is beyond measure — and these crews work magic week after week.”

“Grey’s Anatomy” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.