Why Did They Kill Off Mark Sloan on 'Grey's Anatomy'? There May Be More Than One Reason

Eric Dane, who played Mark Sloan on 'Grey's Anatomy,' said he was ready to leave the show. Is there another reason for the character's exit?

Melissa Willets - Author

Nov. 15 2023, Published 10:48 a.m. ET

Mark Sloan dies on the Season 9 premiere of 'Grey's Anatomy'
Source: ABC

The Gist:

  • Mark Sloan's character was killed off on Grey's Anatomy at the beginning of Season 9.
  • Eric Dane, who played the doctor, has been open about his choice to leave the show.
  • Another character's exit may be the real reason McSteamy didn't survive to see another episode.
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We knew him as McSteamy, aka Mark Sloan, on Grey's Anatomy for 145 episodes. And, we fell in love with his bad boy image and cutting remarks as he, well, cut his way to the top of the surgical field.

So why did the powers that be decide to kill off the character, keenly played by Eric Dane? Eric said that he decided to leave the show. Fans want answers though. What's the real reason Mark Sloan was killed off?

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Eric Dane arrives at Mom On A Mission's 5th Annual Awards & Gala on Nov. 6, 2013, in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Source: Getty Images

So, why did they kill off Mark Sloan, played by Eric Dane, on 'Grey's Anatomy'?

It was 2021 when fans had to say goodbye to not one, but two beloved characters on the long-running ABC medical drama.

First, we lost Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh) during the Season 8 finale in a shocking plane crash that left us in tears. Yeah, you know you cried!

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Then, Mark succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the accident on the Season 9 premiere. It was brutal for fans who adored the storyline that saw Lexie and Mark falling in love.

So, why did the writers subject us to such pain?

When Eric decided to leave the show, Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes said he didn't “come to that decision lightly.”

But as it turns out, a new opportunity presented itself to Eric, one he said he "couldn't pass up."

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As the actor told EW in 2013 about his role in the TNT movie The Last Ship, “Grey’s Anatomy is a world — it’s not about any one individual actor and the storylines were sort of…you know, heading in different directions. So it was an opportunity for me to go and I was interested in something different."

"I loved doing Grey’s Anatomy. I would have done it until the final episode, but this was something I couldn’t pass up," he added.

Mark and Lexie from 'Grey's Anatomy'
Source: ABC
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Chyler Leigh's decision to leave 'Grey's Anatomy' may also have had something to do with Mark Sloan being killed off.

More than a decade after Mark's final breath, fans are still buzzing about the end of Eric's time on Grey's Anatomy. Some even have an alternate theory.

In a February 2023 Reddit post, a fan posited about Eric's departure from the show, "The only reason I think of is that writers ran out of ideas for his storyline."

Another fan added, "He said that Lexie was it for his character and wouldn't move on with anyone else and Chyler Leigh wanted to leave."

Indeed, Chyler has been candid about exiting the show to spend more time with her family — and who can blame her for that?

As another Redditor seconded, "I heard that Eric chose to leave because he couldn't picture Mark Sloan living without Lexie."

And so it seems that ultimately, the writing was on the wall as far as Mark Sloan being written off the show, both from a storyline standpoint, and because Eric decided to take advantage of some new opportunities.

At least we can watch him in reruns! Long live McSteamy!

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