Creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes said the two characters played an important role in representing both "LBGTQ and devout Christian communities", which had not received the space they deserve on television, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"It's always hard for me to say goodbye to any of my characters. Both Arizona Robbins and April Kepner are not only beloved but iconic - both the LBGTQ and devout Christian communities are underrepresented on TV. I will be forever grateful to both Jessica and Sarah for bringing these characters to life," Rhimes said in a statement.
"The characters of Arizona and April are permanently woven into the fabric of 'Grey's Anatomy' thanks to the extraordinary work of Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew. As writers, our job is to follow the stories where they want to go, and sometimes that means saying goodbye to characters we love," Vernoff.
"For the past 10 years, I have had the rare privilege of not only playing Arizona Robbins but also being madly in love with playing her... She was one of the first members of the LGBTQ community to be represented as a series-regular role on network television. Her impact on the world is permanent and forever. I am sad to see her go, but I am consoled by the idea that she will continue to live on..." she wrote.
Drew said she was "sad" after she received the information of her exit from the series and she was not ready to say her "thank yous" yet.
"For now, I'd like to say: I love you, and I love April, and her story isn't over yet. And the really good news (for me at least) is that I'm here on set shadowing one of my favorite people, Kevin McKidd, with my beloved 'Grey's' family all this week and next, so I get to process all of my feelings surrounded by the community that has nourished and nurtured me for almost a decade. For that, I am so grateful (sic)," she wrote in a lengthy statement on Twitter.
After the announcement, many implied that Capshaw and Drew's departures were linked to the main lead Ellen Pompeo's massive USD 20 million deal recently.
But Vernoff refuted the claims, saying it had nothing to do with Pompeo's salary renegotiation.
"It smacks of an old, broken, patriarchal notion that women must be pitted against each other and that one woman's success will be costly to others. Ellen Pompeo has not only advocated passionately for her fellow cast members, she has taken the time to educate women worldwide as to how to advocate for themselves and that must not now be twisted. The decision to make changes to our cast was a creative one..." she tweeted.
"It's unfortunate that @DEADLINE chooses to try to pit women against each other on #InternationalWomensDay #shameonyounotme
"I'm a big girl @DEADLINE can take shots at me if they want but to the fans please don't fall into that trap. This is above my pay grade," she tweeted.
Capshaw and Drew become the second and third series regulars to exit "Grey's Anatomy" this season.
They join Martin Henderson, who was written out after a two-season run.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)