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Katherine Heigl Finally Leaving Grey’s Anatomy, Without a Hero’s Death

Remember when, amid public acrimony with the actress, Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes gave Katherine Heigl's Dr. Izzie a brain tumor, presumably as a means of killing off the character and freeing Heigl from her contract? And then, hilariously, Izzie survived? EW's Michael Ausiello reports that after six grueling yearsin the Grey's salt mines, Heigl is finally leaving the show.

In fact, she already has! Ausiello says Heigl took half the current season off to act in a movie and to spend time with her new adopted daughter, but was scheduled to return to the set on March 1 to appear in the five remaining episodes. She never did:

Someone who watches the show tells us Heigl's Izzie has left her husband, been fired from Seattle Grace Hospital (after an error that endangered the life of a patient), and has popped in only occasionally this season; so at this point, her sudden disappearance won't seem overly conspicuous. But why didn't Rhimes just let her die on the table when she killed off T.R. Knight? Just to screw with Heigl, whose character will now be denied the spectacular onscreen mortality that viewers so demand? We still say Rhimes should've surprised her with a shark attack when she had the chance.

A source within the actress’ camp claims Heigl “was at home and ready to return to work.” Another insider, however, “insists it’s much more complicated than that.” The source adds that talks between Heigl and ABC have been going on for months and last week both sides mutually decided that the best solution would be to part ways now as opposed to at the end of the season. As a result, Heigl is not expected to return to the Grey’s set, which means her final episode as Izzie has already aired.

Someone who watches the show tells us Heigl's Izzie has left her husband, been fired from Seattle Grace Hospital (after an error that endangered the life of a patient), and has popped in only occasionally this season; so at this point, her sudden disappearance won't seem overly conspicuous. But why didn't Rhimes just let her die on the table when she killed off T.R. Knight? Just to screw with Heigl, whose character will now be denied the spectacular onscreen mortality that viewers so demand? We still say Rhimes should've surprised her with a shark attack when she had the chance.

'Grey's Anatomy' exclusive: Katherine Heigl is (almost) outta there! [Ausiello Files/EW]

Photo: Courtesy of ABC