According to TVLine, Eric has chosen to leave the show so he can pursue other career opportunities. He told TVLine, "I am extremely grateful to everyone at Grey’s, ABC and Shondaland for the experience and memories I have had over the course of this run."
Shonda Rhimes also commented that Eric Dane "did not come to this decision lightly, but after much consideration and conversations, he and I have decided that this is the right time for his storyline to end."
Does that mean Mark is going to die? He ended Season 8 on the brink of death, so that seems like the obvious way out for Eric. However, TVLine reports that according to a Grey's insider, Eric Dane will actually be in a "couple" of Season 9 episodes "to ensure he gets a proper farewell."
Hmmm … It's possible that Mark initially survives the crash, but then ends up dying of complications down the line. Alternatively, maybe he lives, and then leaves Seattle to get away from the memory of Lexie (Chyler Leigh). (Though would he really leave his child? We kind of doubt it.)
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Grey’s Anatomy Season 9 will premiere on Thursday, September 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT onABC.