July 26, 2012 2:59pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Grey's Anatomy's' Eric Dane Leaving After Six Seasons
Grey's Anatomy is losing McSteamy.
Eric Dane, who played Dr. Mark Slone, has opted to leave the ABC medical drama, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
Mark was last seen clinging to life as he and fellow doctors Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), Cristina (Sandra Oh), Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) were left stranded following a plane crash in the wilderness.
Dane's exit comes after Grey's Anatomy showrunner Shonda Rhimes confirmed that Chyler Leigh and Kim Raver would exit the series. Leigh's Lexie perished in the plane crash, and Raver's Teddy was ultimately fired by Owen (Kevin McKidd) in a bid to get the widow to move on with her life.
“I am extremely grateful to everyone at Grey’s, ABC and Shondaland for the experience and memories I have had over the course of this run,” Dane told TVLine, who first reported the news. "It has been wonderful to work alongside and learn from a creative force such as Shonda Rhimes."
Dane's character, dubbed McSteamy following his notable entrance wearing only a towel at the end of season two, has been with the series for six seasons. Dane will return for a number of episodes to close out Mark's story.
"We're a big family here at Grey's with a long history together, and Eric will always remain an important part of our family," Rhimes told the site. "I wish him the best, and I look forward to watching him as he continues to steam up the big and small screen."
Dane has continued to pursue a movie career, with roles in features including Burlesque, Valentine's Day and Marley & Me.
Before its ninth season renewal in May, Grey's faced an uncertain future with core castmembers including Pompeo, Dempsey, Oh and others mired in contract negotiations. The fashion of the finale leaves the door open for other castmembers to depart, with many of their onscreen counterparts accepting jobs at hospitals outside of Grey's Anatomy's Seattle Grace. (The actors all signed two-year deals in May.)
During the off-season, Grey's has cast two new actors to likely play doctors on the drama: Friday Night Lights' Gaius Charles and Camilla Luddington, the latter of whom will recur with a series regular option should Grey's be renewed for a 10th season. The show continues to rank as ABC's top scripted drama series.