Spoilers Ahead! Catch up with Grey’s Anatomy season 18 before reading.
Thursday night’s Grey’s Anatomy episode marks the end of the road for one series regular, but does it open the door for a certain fan-favourite to return?
After three seasons on the hit medical drama, actor, Richard Flood, has confirmed Dr. Cormac Hayes has parted ways with Grey Sloan – and Seattle. His exit comes as a huge shock to fans considering Hayes’ teased romance with Meredith (Ellen Pompeo). Many fans were rooting for the two, noting the similarities between their previous relationships. Instead, Meredith now potentially has her sights set on Scott Speedman’s Dr. Nick. Marsh, though she does share one last touching scene with the Irishman.
Why Did Hayes Leave?
Following the mid-season’s literal cliffhanger, Owen’s (Kevin McKidd) fate is revealed. The episode, which aired back in December, left Teddy (Kim Raver), Owen and Hayes dangling over a cliff. While Hayes and Teddy escape the wreckage, Owen goes down with the vehicle. Yet, before Hayes gets out, Owen makes a startling confession – he has been illegally providing life-ending treatment to veterans to allow them a dignified death.
Hayes is tormented by this. He now faces a major dilemma: should he report Owen or can he live with the burden of Owen’s crimes? When the trauma surgeon is rushed to hospital for his injuries, he urges Hayes to forget what he said. The latter has already made his mind up. As Hayes approaches Bailey (Chandra Wilson), a last-minute speech from the chief gives him a change of heart. Hayes then notifies Bailey of his resignation, effective immediately, and announces his plan to move back to Ireland with his sons.
What Does His Exit Mean for the Future?
Without Hayes, Grey Sloan finds itself back in a familiar position. There is a vacancy for Head of Pediatrics. Despite Hayes being a prominent figure, the series doesn’t necessarily need to fill this position with an equally notable character. However, there are plenty fans who would love to see a friendly face reclaim the title. The obvious choice here is Justin Chambers’ Alex Karev, who was technically the last person in charge before Hayes’ arrival.
Chambers, who is one of the original cast members, announced his departure from Grey’s Anatomy in January 2020. His decision to leave was a huge blow to viewers, especially as his last on-screen appearance left no closure. Alex’s whereabouts remain unknown for a number of episodes until it is revealed via letters to wife, Jo (Camilla Luddington), Meredith and Bailey, that he reconciled with ex-wife, Izzie (Katherine Heigl).
This exit has been met with a lot criticism. Alex no longer has any ties to Grey Sloan, but it is likely his reception wouldn’t be a warm one if he were to return. Ruling Alex out doesn’t spell disaster for those who want to see another cast member back though.
Could This Be the Return of Another Familiar Face?
While nothing is confirmed, this could be an opportunity for Jessica Capshaw to reprise her role as the beloved Arizona Robbins. Capshaw was last featured on the show in 2018 before her character makes the move to New York. She certainly has the support of the fans behind her too with many speculating and manifesting her return over social media.
It is a painstakingly clear that Grey’s Anatomy is slowly losing its buzz. Perhaps Arizona’s bubbly personality could liven up the tone a little if just for a few episodes. A permanent role may not be on the cards, but there are several arcs Arizona could pick up on; her position at the hospital could be temporary – the doctors may require her for a critical surgery. Arizona could also serve as somewhat of a mentor to Jo. All that’s clear for now is that the hospital is one doctor down and Arizona is more than qualified for the role.
Grey’s Anatomy is no stranger to inviting former characters back into the narrative, particularly as of the last year. Kate Walsh recently joined a list of cast members who briefly reprised their respective roles, including Sarah Drew and Patrick Dempsey – the latter proving that anything can be possible at Grey Sloan. Should Jessica Capshaw be next to step back into the scrubs?