Although Jerrika Hinton’s character, Dr. Stephanie Edwards, did not die in the explosion that kicked off the episode, the trauma and burns she endured ― coupled with her past childhood illness ― led her to the decision to leave her job and the medical field for good.
In the final scene of “Ring of Fire,” Edwards tells Dr. Webber (James Pickens. Jr.) that she needs to start living her life outside of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.
“I spent my whole life in hospitals. My whole life,” Edwards says through tears in a hospital bed. “And I think I need to see everything that’s not the inside of a hospital. I need to travel and explore and hike and breathe ... I want to breathe it all in, away from the monitors and the blood and the sterile gowns, away from saving other people’s lives. I want my own.”
Hinton, who joined the show in Season 9, later took to Instagram to thank “Grey’s” fans and showrunner Shonda Rhimes for giving her the opportunity of a lifetime:
I am eternally thankful for five seasons of #GreysAnatomy and a graceful departure that underscores the courage it takes to choose yourself. That Stephanie literally walks through fire to reach freedom — her freedom — inspires me. It also makes me curious: What does freedom look like for you, dear viewer? After all, it’s not only the heroics that make her brave, it’s her finally seeing (and seeking) a better path. #onlyfreakingsuperheroes #takeyourpastandfindyourpath You fans and viewers are some of the most devoted folks I’ve ever met. Thank you for your endless energy. Bosslady Shonda, Queen Debbie, and entire the Grey’s Anatomy cast and crew forever remain in my heart. The #Shondaland family is a mighty, winding forest. I look forward to seeing you all in another clearing. 💚
The actress also spoke with Variety about her exit, which comes a year after Sara Ramirez’s (Callie Torres) departure from the long-running ABC series. Hinton said she doesn’t think Edwards will be back on “Grey’s” anytime soon, but that she’ll miss playing the “wonderful” character.
“Shonda and I met almost a year ago now, and we had a very lengthy and gratifying and really splendid conversation about work and creative process,” Hinton told Variety of her decision to leave. “She was immensely supportive of my wishes, and she’s really lovely, Shonda. Every private conversation I’ve had with her has left with me feeling just heard and seen and respected as a human being and as an artist, and I really appreciate that.”
Hinton will next be seen in a role on Alan Ball’s upcoming untitled HBO drama.