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As one of the longest-running programs on TV, Grey’s Anatomy has had a number of stars leave the hit show. One of the most memorable exits was that of Katherine Heigl. The actor played intern-turned-surgeon, Izzie Stevens.

Katherine Heigl as Dr. Izzie Stevens on 'Grey's Anatomy'
Katherine Heigl as Dr. Izzie Stevens on Grey’s Anatomy | Scott Garfield/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Eventually, Heigl left following some off-screen drama. But before the actor bid farewell to Grey’s Anatomy she played Izzie in some top-rated episodes of the medical drama. 

Katherine Heigl left during ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 6

After being a series regular on Grey’s Anatomy for five years from 2005 – 2010, Heigl left the show. She made her final appearance as Izzie in Grey’s Anatomy Season 6 Episode 12: “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked.” She returned to Seattle to make amends with Dr. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers). 

Heigl won an Emmy for her performance as Izzie — a first for the cast — and when she received a second Emmy nod, the actor took herself out of contention. She released a public statement, saying she didn’t feel the material she was given warranted a nomination. 

Two years later, Heigl made her departure from Grey’s Anatomy. The details surrounding her exit at the time were unclear. Some reports claimed the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, released the actor from her contract early because she didn’t show up for work. Meanwhile, Heigl said she asked to leave early to spend more time with her family. 

Grey’s Anatomy fans found out what happened to Izzie when Chambers left the show in 2020. 

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 2 Episode 16: ‘It’s the End of the World’

Years before Heigl’s exit she played Izzie in one of the program’s most memorable episodes. In “It’s the End of the World,” Christina Ricci guest-starred as a new paramedic who held her hand on a bomb that was lodged inside of a patient. 

When Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) took the paramedic’s place, Izzie and the rest of the interns waited to learn her fate. According to IMDb rankings, the episode has 9.5 stars out of 10, making it one of the highest-rated episodes of the series. 

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 2 Episode 17: ‘As We Know It’

The follow-up to the two-part episode also has 9.5 stars out of 10 on IMDb. “As We Know It” continued the story of a bomb possibly going off at any moment in the hospital.

Again, everyone anxiously awaited the outcome. Some fared better than others. The stress took a physical toll on Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) meanwhile Alex and Izzie used it as an excuse to be spontaneous. 

Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight in a scene from 'Grey's Anatomy'
Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight in a scene from Grey’s Anatomy | Peter “Hopper” Stone/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 5 Episode 24: ‘Now or Never’

The season five finale ranks the highest with 9.6 stars, based on IMDb user ratings. In “Now or Never,” the hospital’s doctors are put to the test yet again.

They have to treat one of their own, Dr. George O’Malley (T.R. Knight), when he gets admitted as a John Doe after being hit by a bus. Meredith, Izzie, and the rest of George’s friends have to put aside their personal feelings for their close friend and focus on saving his life.  

At the time of publication, Grey’s Anatomy is streaming on Netflix.