On Thursday, Ausiello gave us the inside scoop that Heigl’s reps and ABC have come to an agreement to release her from her contract effective immediately. This means that Heigl will not be returning to the set of Grey’s to give her character an appropriate send-off. Izzie’s last appearance on Grey’s was mid-season in the episode titled “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked.” Most fans aren’t upset by this news as Izzie has been MIA for the better part of this season and we haven’t particularly missed her.
Earlier this season Heigl announced she would be taking a leave of absence to work on her new movie entitled Life As We Know It and to spend time with her newly adopted Korean daughter Naleigh. We were a little concerned since this overlapped with Ellen Pompeo’s maternity leave but as these past 10 episodes have proved, Grey’s can certainly go on without Izzie. Fans took this to mean that Heigl’s character should leave the show for good and that it would only improve the quality of the series.
Now this is where it gets tricky, its one thing for Heigl’s character to be taking personal time away from Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital and its another thing entirely for her never to return to see her friends and (former?) husband. Viewers may be happy watching these episodes now and forgetting that Izzie’s character exists but she does and its necessary for the show to address her exit. Without Heigl returning for a proper send-off episode, I can’t help but feel that I’ll be really let down by the time they have to address it. Remember how everyone was so pissed when Erica Hahn didn’t get properly written-off? Well Hahn was only recurring for half a season and Izzie was in every episode for the first five seasons. The other characters have deep-rooted friendships and history with her and we can’t just ignore the blaring fact that she has cancer and could very well die. If they do choose to let the cancer kill her, I can’t imagine how inadequate hearing that story would be versus seeing it, at least in one episode where the crew visits her in her deathbed. Really, any off-screen send-off isn’t going to do justice to her character and will therefore be disappointing, whether you like her or not.
I am an Izzie fan, I thought she did a phenomenal job with her cancer storyline last season and I’m upset that her character switched so drastically from almost being the protagonist to basically nonexistent so quickly. Whether you love/hate Izzie and/or Heigl for Izzie’s peppiness, Heigl’s sass, etc, she has delivered some heart wrenching performances over the course of her time at Grey’s and played an important part in some of the most memorable moments on the series. Remember—there would have been no Denny without Izzie for him to fall in love with.