Oh has played Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy for nine seasons, since the show’s debut in 2005. The role won her five Emmy nominations. She has also won a Golden Globe award and a Screen Actors Guild award for her work on the program.
"Creatively, I really feel like I gave it my all, and I feel ready to let her go," the Ottawa-born Oh told the Hollywood Reporter. "[Cristina] wants to be let go, and I am ready to let her go. We have to start the process, story-wise, for the Grey's writers to think of why she's going to go."
Oh and the show’s other lead cast members signed two-year deals in May 2012 that would take them through the end of the upcoming tenth season. Oh began to consider leaving the show after penning the commitment.
"I started thinking about it because I had to prepare myself. I gave myself two years to emotionally let go. At the end of last season, Shonda took me aside and said, 'What are your thoughts?' I said, 'I'm ready.'"
Shonda Rhimes, the show's creator and executive producer, said she's grateful for what she called the actor's "brilliant" work.
"The minute Sandra and I started talking about this, we have a story that we want to tell and we want to tell it really well, and that story isn't about her leaving the show as much as it is Cristina Yang's growth as a person and as a surgeon,” Rhimes told the Hollywood Reporter. "Cristina Yang is not going to magically decide she wants babies, no."
Others who have left the drama include Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight. Stars Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey and Patrick Dempsey as Dr. Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd have been with Grey's Anatomy since its 2005 debut. The tenth season is scheduled to begin airing in September.
In July, Oh, who grew up in Nepean, Ont., was given the Key to the City of Ottawa. She currently lives in Los Angeles.