‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Why Did Sara Ramirez Leave After Season 12?

In the ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, actor Sara Ramirez played Dr. Callie Torres. She was the former head of orthopedic surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. After the season 12 finale, Ramirez announced their departure from the medical dram. So, why did they decide to leave Grey’s Anatomy?

Why did Sara Ramirez leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?

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In the Grey’s Anatomy Season 12 finale, fans said goodbye to Callie Torres. After the custody battle with Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), Callie moved to New York with her then-girlfriend Penny (Samantha Sloyan). After the finale premiered on ABC, Sarah Ramirez released a public statement about their departure. 

According to Variety, Ramirez shared they wanted to take some “time off” from playing Callie Torres. “I’m deeply grateful to have spent the last 10 years with my family at Grey’s Anatomy and ABC, but for now, I’m taking some welcome time off,” they said in the Twitter statement. “Shonda’s been so incredible to work for, and we will definitely continue our conversations! I send my love to Ellen [Pompeo], the rest of the cast and crew, and I look forward to always being a part of the Shondaland family!”

Ramirez’s departure from the show surprised Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes. Per Variety, Rhimes learned about her exit a few days prior. In a statement, she said, “Dr. Callie Torres came into our lives dancing it out in her underwear almost a decade ago, and I could not be happier or more proud of her journey. Sara Ramirez’s performance inspired me as well as millions of fans each week. We wish her the best on her well-deserved time off. I will miss Callie tremendously, but I am excited for what the future holds for Sara. She will always have a home at Shondaland.”

Ramirez says they’re open to playing Callie Torres again

Sara Ramirez wearing a red shirt with a black jacket in 'Grey's Anatomy' Season 12.
Sara Ramirez | Ron Batzdorff/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

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After Callie’s departure, many fans wondered if Callie would ever return to Grey Sloan Memorial. Well, actor Sara Ramirez has not closed the door entirely on the idea. 

In a 2017 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ramirez said they’re open to returning to the medical drama. “When Shonda [Rhimes] and I last spoke, we agreed to keep the conversations going, and she knows I’m open to keeping those conversations going,” they explained. 

Either way, they don’t have any regrets about leaving the show. When asked if their departure was the right choice, they replied, “Absolutely.”

What has the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star done since leaving the show?

Since leaving the show in 2016, Ramirez has remained booked and busy. According to CinemaBlend, they starred as a series regular on the CBS drama series Madam Secretary. From 2017 to 2019, Ramirez played Kat Sandoval, a strategic policy adviser to Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni). While off-screen, Ramirez has been an activist for LGBTQ rights, HIV and AIDS prevention/treatment, and Latinx representation. In August 2020, Ramirez came out as non-binary. Also, they announced that they use the pronouns they/them. 

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.