‘Grey’s Anatomy’: The Best Part of Izzie’s Cancer Storyline Almost Made Her Redeemable

Katherine Heigl was one of the original cast members of the popular television series Grey’s AnatomyShe stayed with the medical-based drama until mid-season of Season 6, after deciding that she wanted to pursue something different.

The controversial decision left fans angry and disappointed. They felt her character, Dr. Izzie Stevens, abruptly left the show without any sort of closure.

Stevens, who started out as a kind and loving friend evolved into a deceptive cold-hearted player. Fans considered her to be the worst character that has ever been on the show.

It wasn’t until her cancer storyline in Season 5 that viewers started seeing her in a different light.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Did Izzie see a ghost?

Katherine Heigl and Justin Chambers
Katherine Heigl and Justin Chambers | Scott Garfield/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Fans loved Izzie’s story arc in Season 5 when she develops cancer and reunites with Alex. Where the storyline started to fall apart was when she began having sex with Denny’s ghost.

For those who don’t recall that weird time in the show, here is a brief run down to catch you up to speed.

Izzie and Denny had one of the greatest love stories on Grey’s Anatomy. Even in death, their afterlife love affair endured. Following Izzie’s cancer diagnosis, she started seeing her ex-lover’s ghost. At the time, fans speculated that the hallucinations were a result of her cancer treatments.

Show creator Shonda Rhimes recently set the record straight while talking to Entertainment Weekly. She explained that Izzie’s visions were not caused by a cancerous brain tumor.

Instead, she was experiencing symptoms from a rare disease that is similar to an aneurysm. When the condition worsens, she sees Denny’s ghost, and sometimes it leads to an imagined sexual encounter.

How fans reacted to the ghost story

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Avid viewers of Grey’s Anatomy took to the popular Reddit forum to discuss the storyline that involved Izzie seeing Denny’s ghost.

They agreed that Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Denny, was a great character that unfortunately stuck around for too long. Fans had a problem with Izzie not realizing she had cancer in the first place, saying, “The main problem with this plot is that it went on forever before she (A DOCTOR) realized that, no seeing and feeling a ghost is NOT normal.”

Some Reddit users commented that they were just “over Izzie at that point,” while others like how the interns were involved in making her cancer diagnosis. A viewer noted, “Izzie realizing something was wrong and turning it into a teaching opportunity was the best part of the storyline.”

Most fans agreed that they didn’t enjoy the “ghost sex,” but others noted that the episode “I’m Here For You” was “so goddamn good that I can forgive it.” In the end, everyone seemed to agree that it was a unique and “creative way to show that she had a tumor.”

Izzie’s abrupt exit from the show

By the time Season 6 rolled around, Heigl had enough of the show that launched her career. She was having unresolved conflicts with Rhimes and didn’t like the direction her character was taking.

Krista Vernoff, a showrunner who worked on the show during the early seasons, told the Los Angeles Times, “There was a resolution to Izzie’s story. We had planned to have her come back for an episode to really properly tie up Izzie and Alex.” She explains that the day before filming was to begin they received a call to inform them that Heigl wasn’t returning.

Sources close to Heigl said Vernoff’s accounting of what happened was “mistaken.” No matter how or why it happened, Izzie was gone from the show. Now, more than a decade has passed, and rumors are circulating that Izzie may return to Grey’s Anatomy to tie up some loose ends that surround her character’s storyline.

When asked by E! News Daily Pop if she would consider returning to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, Heigl replied, “I don’t know, but I would never say never.”