Let’s be honest, Grey’s Anatomy fans don’t take kindly to new characters. Every time someone is introduced, there’s always a bit of backlash. However, when Stephanie Edwards (Jerrika Hinton) first appeared in Grey’s Anatomy Season 9, viewers knew she would become one of their favorites.
Nevertheless, Stephanie hung up her stethoscope toward the end of season 13, collectively breaking everyone’s hearts. But is there hope for Hinton to return as Stephanie on Grey’s Anatomy? Here’s what we know.
Why did Jerrika Hinton leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?
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To the ones who look like me — it is for you that my heart burns brightest. I hear you when you say I represent you. Thank you for your warmth and patience. I see you, sis! It has been the greatest honor to show us *us*. Eking out this kind of #representation on a weekly basis within a medium that continues to correlate value with proximity to whiteness is a feat. That I got to deliver a relatable, recognizable and unvarnished #StephanieEdwards who looks and feels like women I know — who are people rather than ideas — has been worth more than you know. Thank the tv gods for #TGIT. 🙏🏾
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Hinton left Grey’s Anatomy to pursue other projects. In March 2016, the actor was cast as the leading role for Shonda Rhimes’ new comedy, Toast. Unfortunately, the pilot wasn’t picked up by ABC. But in January 2017, TVLine reported Hinton would exit Grey’s Anatomy for Alan Ball’s new HBO show, Here and Now.
When speaking with The Hollywood Reporter after her exit, Hinton shared creator Shonda Rhimes was supportive of her decision.
“When Toast didn’t go, I went away and had a spiritual summer in a lot of ways,” Hinton said in May 2017. “Shonda and I had a meeting at the beginning of season 13 where we talked about my departure and my creative process, and she was very supportive of my wishes. I am eternally grateful to her for understanding.”
Meanwhile, Rhimes said in a statement:
Actors evolve differently and when an actor like Jerrika comes to me and says she wants to try something new creatively, I like to honor that. Jerrika has shared so much of herself with Stephanie and I am incredibly proud of the journey we’ve taken together. While I’m sad to see Stephanie leave Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, I am excited to see what’s next for Jerrika.
HBO canceled Here and Now after one season. However, Hinton currently stars as Millie Morris on Amazon Prime’s Hunters.
What happened to Stephanie Edwards on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?
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The Grey’s Anatomy Season 13 finale — titled “Ring of Fire” — served as Hinton’s last episode as Stephanie. In the previous episode, Stephanie set a rapist on fire. But in a turn of events, he reached a supply of oxygen tanks, causing an explosion at Grey Sloan Memorial.
When the finale originally aired on ABC, fans panicked, wondering whether Shondaland claimed yet another victim. But luckily, Stephanie made it out alive. However, she was covered in major burns. Then in a conversation with Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.), Stephanie realized she wanted to stop living her life in hospitals and really live.
“I spent my whole life in hospitals — my whole life,” she said. “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. It’s time I live my own.”
Jerrika Hinton on returning to ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in the future
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After the Grey’s Anatomy Season 13 finale was released in May 2017, multiple publications asked Hinton whether she would ever consider returning as Stephanie, particularly because the character wasn’t killed off. In an interview with Variety, Hinton shared she wasn’t sure how to answer. But she pointed out Stephanie wouldn’t want to come back for some time.
“Because of the nature of her injuries and because of what she says she wants to experience in her next chapter of life, if we do see her come back through those doors, it will be a long time,” Hinton said. “I think that she needs to heal. She needs to heal in a variety of ways before that place becomes a viable option again.”
Then when speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Hinton confirmed she was open to reprising her role sometime in the future.
“Yes,” the actor said when asked whether she would want to return to the Shondaland series. “That place has a really wonderful soft spot in my heart.”
Now, it’s been three years since Hinton left Grey’s Anatomy and it appears the actor wouldn’t say no to Stephanie’s return — depending on the storyline.
“It depends on the format, you know? It depends on what the story is,” Hinton told CinemaBlend in January 2020. “You never say never to things like that.”
She continued, “That was such a fundamental experience in my career, and so never say never. Although I am enjoying the world outside, certainly, in the current moment.”
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