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Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw have been two of the most admired actors on Grey’s Anatomy for years. As we grew to love April Kepner and Arizona Robbins, we quickly fell for the strong women who portrayed them.

Grey’s Anatomy has never shied away from writing off a beloved character. Over the past 14 seasons, we’ve lost a lot of people. But Drew and Capshaw’s departure stands out strongly from the rest for a number of reasons.

Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, Chyler Leigh, Eric Dane, Sara Ramirez, Jerrika Hinton – these names who’ve left over the years left by choice. But in this case, the two actresses were basically fired. It clearly wasn’t done for dramatic effect either, as it wouldn’t have been released to the press if it was. I don’t see an ounce of creativity in the decision, so what was the point?

Sarah and Jessica have both been a part of two of Grey’s biggest ships: Japril and Calzona.

If you’re not already aware, the fan base for both of these couples is HUGE. Although the other half of Calzona, Callie (played by Sara Ramirez), departed in season 12, fans have remained loyal to Grey’s because of the love they have for Arizona. Now that the actress who plays her has been carelessly tossed aside, why should they stick around?

Japril have had their ups and downs but this season has been disastrous. The lack of respect for Japril fans has been made pretty clear through their non existed shared screen time and the utterly bizarre pairing of Jackson and Maggie, his step-sister. With April now departing, I doubt fans are going to be waiting around to see how that story unfolds.

But that’s talking about their pairings. As individual characters, the loss will be felt even more.

Let’s start with Arizona Robbins. Arizona first wheeled into our screens back in season 5 and she instantly captured us all with her super magic smile and perky persona. She was one of the first LGBT characters to be represented in a series regular role on network TV, making her an essential figure on the show. So many young girls and grown women have seen themselves in Arizona. From that representation, they’ve been able to discover their own sexuality and open up about it. They’ve found comfort in seeing someone they can relate to living a happy life. Taking that away like it doesn’t mean anything is disastrous.

But, Arizona’s sexuality wasn’t the only thing that made her such an important character to have on TV, as the character is an amputee. Jessica Capshaw provided one of Grey’s best performances with this storyline and she put her all into portraying it right. Disabilities are rarely represented, especially in a series regular role.

April Kepner has had one of the best character developments on the show and what she’s overcome is incredible. She was fired twice, held at gun point, lost her first child, got divorced, had to have a c-section on a kitchen table – and she never once stopped fighting. Her faith has been an essential part of her character and another incredibly important piece of representation on the show. Sadly, this season has been unnecessarily unfair to April and I sincerely hope they restore her happiness before her arc comes to an end.

The passion and dedication that Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw had for Grey’s Anatomy was always evident. Not only were they so outspoken about how much they loved the show in interviews, but any behind the scenes posts were always overflowing with joy. That passion translates on screen as it’s clear that they’re putting everything they have into the scripts that they’re given. For them both to be unexpectedly booted off the show after almost a decade of hard work is devastating.

Explaining it was for “creative reasons” makes virtually no sense. Every new change that’s been implemented in the past season has been received poorly and it’s clear fans don’t like the direction the show is going in. The actresses were only told the news 48 hours before it was released to the press. Don’t they deserve better than that?

We watch Grey’s Anatomy for the characters we know and love. I’ve yet to hear of any fan who’s more invested in the new interns and storylines than they are with the original characters. Removing fan favourites and focusing on newbies is not the way to win over your audience. Firing two actresses that fans idolise and discarding their characters out of the blue is not respecting those who’ve committed hours and hours into the show.

The news was announced on the day episode 14 aired and you only need to find out how well it was received by looking at last nights ratings. This rage and upset isn’t going to die down any time soon. The showrunners may not have supported Jessica and Sarah by making this decision, but the fans will be rallying for them for a long time.

Whether Grey’s Anatomy still has the long future that was once predicted is now up for debate. Without two of it’s key players, it’s hard to envision where it goes from here. With fans feeling heartbroken, it’s unclear as to how many are going to stick around.

When April Kepner and Arizona Robbins depart, expect a great number of fans to leave with them.

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