The character's focal storyline involved a romantic relationship with plastic surgeon Mark Sloan. She sustained life-threatening injuries after an aviation accident, in the eighth season finale, which ultimately ended in her death. The character's death resulted in mixed critical feedback and the reason given for the departure was Leigh's desire to spend more time with her family. Rhimes has characterised Lexie as being a dork, as well as having issues with saying how she feels. Leigh has been moderately well received by critics, and was among the cast to receive a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2007.
Lexie Grey is the daughter of Thatcher Grey and his wife, Susan. She also has a younger sister, Molly Thompson, and her older half sister is Meredith Grey, born to Thatcher and his first wife, Ellis. She graduated from Harvard Medical School before being accepted to Seattle Grace Hospital as an intern. The character's initial plans were to perform her internship at a different hospital, Mass General, however, these changed when her mother died from sudden complications. She is introduced as Cristina Yang's intern, who dubs her "three". When Meredith discovers that Lexie is her sister, she shows no desire to maintain a friendship, though the two eventually kindle a relationship. Lexie forms a friendship with fellow intern George O'Malley, and the two rent an apartment together. Furthermore, she later pursues a sexual relationship with resident Alex Karev. Lexie develops romantic feelings for O'Malley in the fifth season, however, he shows no interest in a romantic relationship, and their friendship dissolves. Lexie and fellow interns form a "medieval" medical teaching club, in the basement of the hospital, which leads to them all being placed on disciplinary probation.
Lexie develops a romantic relationship with plastic surgeon Mark Sloan, despite the efforts of Meredith and her husband, Derek Shepherd, they feel he will hurt her. In the sixth season, O'Malley dies, after injuries sustained while being dragged by a bus, and Lexie receives comfort from Sloan, by moving in with him. Later in the season, Thatcher is admitted into the hospital, subsequently being diagnosed with liver failure, a repercussion from his former alcoholism. It is revealed that he needs an organ transplant, and Lexie offers to donate, but she is not a viable candidate. After constant pleads from Lexie, Meredith unwillingly agrees to donate her liver to Thatcher. In "Holidaze", Sloan's daughter shows up at their apartment, seeking kinship with him. His daughter soon announces her pregnancy, and Sloan offers shelter for her and the baby. However, when Lexie finds out, she is piqued that Sloan did not discuss this with her, and the two break up. On the spur of the moment, Lexie and Karev engage in sexual activity while his wife, Izzie Stevens is estranged, and the two form a relationship.
During the season six finale, a grieving deceased patient's husband goes on a shooting rampage at the hospital and shoots Karev. In the shooting's emotional reverberations, Lexie goes into a mental state, is admitted to the hospital's psychiatric facility, and gets sedated for fifty hours. Karev cannot deal with this, and ends his relationship with Lexie, leaving her enraged. Their break-up is followed by Lexie returning to Sloan, who condemned Karev for leaving her. However, Lexie later discovers that during their break-up, Sloan impregnated orthopaedic surgeon Callie Torres, and she ends their relationship, again. In the aftermath of the break-up, Lexie agrees to a date with fellow resident, Jackson Avery, and the two entertain a brief relationship. In season eight, Lexie becomes jealous of Sloan's new girlfriend, Julia, which leads to Avery breaking up with her. Thereafter, Lexie confesses her undying love to Sloan, only to be ignored. In "Flight", however, Lexie, Sloan, Meredith, Shepherd, Yang and paediatric surgeon Arizona Robbins, are involved in an aviation accident, crushing Lexie under debris. It is revealed that Lexie is suffering from a hemothorax, and that she will die. Sloan takes her by the hand, and tells her he will always love her, and that they were meant to be. Lexie subsequently succumbs to her injuries, and dies as Meredith is approaching.
Casting and CreationEdit
Leigh first appeared on the show during the last two episodes of the third season as Meredith's half sister, Lexie Grey. Following Isaiah Washington's departure, who portrayed Preston Burke, it was reported that the show's executives were planning on adding new cast members such as Lexie. She was officially upgraded to a series' regular on July 11 2007, for the fourth season. On casting Chyler Leigh as Lexie, Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes said: "We met with a lot of young actresses, but Chyler stood out, she had a quality that felt right and real to me. It felt like she could be Meredith's sister, but she had a depth that was very interesting."
In September 2011, Leigh requested an extended summer hiatus, in order to spend more time with her family. This was granted by Rhimes, though the actress returned in mid-October. Leigh's character died in the eighth season finale. In May 2012, Rhimes revealed why she decided to have Lexie die: "I love Chyler and I love the character of Lexie Grey. She was an important member of my Grey's family. This was not an easy decision. But it was a decision that Chyler and I came to together. We had a lot of thoughtful discussion about it and ultimately we both decided this was the right time for her character's journey to end. As far as I'm concerned Chyler will always remain a part of the Shondaland family and I can't wait to work with her again in the future." Following the death of her character, Leigh released a statement saying:
"Earlier this year, I made the decision that season eight would be my last on Grey's Anatomy. I met with Shonda and we worked together to give Lexie's story appropriate closure. I am very lucky to have worked with this amazing cast and crew for five seasons. My experience on Grey's Anatomy is something that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I want to take this time to say thank you to the fans. Your unconditional love and support have made these last five years very special for me. I look forward to my next chapter and I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey."
Leigh's character has been called "reliable, trustworthy, timid and apprehensive" by Grey's Anatomy executives. In her early appearances, it was learned that Lexie has a photographic memory, which she applied to her surgical career. This led her to being nicknamed "Lexipedia" by Alex Karev. The character has also been described as an "innocent young intern" by Alex Keen of The Trades.
Of the character, Leigh said: "She's a very vulnerable person from a very healthy background, she knows how to make good relationships but at this point, she's coming into so much opposition she's trying to adjust to it." Debbie Chang of BuddyTV commented on Lexie's early characterisation, including her sexual relationship with Karev:
"Rivalling her half sister Meredith with her own set of daddy issues, Lexie has been perfectly on schedule with the boyfriend issues this season as well. She decided that she could live with being Alex's plaything, no strings attached, but when push came to shove, and Karev's ex-girlfriend came back for a booty call of two, she showed her true Grey colours and couldn't continue with the emotionless sex. She has, however, made considerable strides in her relationship with Meredith."
Similarities have been established between Lexie and her half sister, Meredith. Series writer, Stacy McKee, commented on this:
"Lexie's struggling to be hardcore herself. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say, perhaps, this kind of struggle must run in the family, but... Okay. Fine. It must run in the family, because Lexie, though she's very different from Meredith in many many ways, in this one way, they seem to be exactly alike. Meredith and Lexie both want to succeed. They want to be strong. They want to feel normal. They want, so much, to be whole. But it's a struggle, a genuine struggle for them. Being hardcore doesn't come naturally. Sometimes, they have to fake it."
Lexie entertained several relationships throughout her time on Grey's Anatomy. In her early appearances, she maintained a friendship with George O'Malley, until developing romantic feelings towards him. Rhimes offered the insight: "I love them as friends. They make good friends. We all have that friend that we met in school or the gym or somewhere, we just hit it off right away. And right away there was no pretenses or airs. Just pure honesty. That's Lexie and George. They're really good friends and I can see the friendship evolving into something even greater. At least, that's what Lexie is hoping. She is my kind of girl. The girl who likes the guy because he is a GOOD guy and that's what George is. He is a good guy and that's something that Lexie could use now. She's going through her own challenges what with Meredith and losing her own mother and trying to keep things afloat. I'm rooting for Lexie. She's my kind of girl and I hope that she gets what she deserves: love. And more kisses. There should always be that." Lexie's most significant relationship was with Mark Sloan. Following her death, Rhimes said:
"Honestly, I always felt like Mark and Lexie were meant to be together. If things had not turned out the way they had this season, I had a completely different thing planned for them. I was one of the people who loved Mark and Lexie together. When Mark and Lexie say "meant to be," it wasn't about servicing the fans. That's how I felt. That's what was supposed to happen, and that's what I wanted to see. It was heartbreaking. I loved the idea of them together. They played really well together. They were very charming and funny and great. We did the scene where Lexie confesses to Mark that she's still in love with him. That was bittersweet to me because it was like, "Look, they're so close, so close! And yet so far."
Leigh has received mixed feedback for her role as Lexie Grey. People, less than impressed, criticised the way Leigh's character initially approached her sister, calling it "rude". Jennifer Armstrong of Entertainment Weekly was also critical of Leigh's early appearances, referring to her as "awkward". However, Armstrong later noted that the "sparkling" friendship development between Lexie and O'Malley "won her over". The character's transition from season four to five was positively reviewed, with Keen ofThe Trades writing: "Her presence and confidence have increased quite a bit since last season, and actress, Chyler Leigh, does a fantastic job of making this progression feel seamless. Since the series has defused the tension between Little Grey and Big Grey (aka Meredith), Lexie has clear sailing through the season and steals the show as one of the best current characters on the series."
Lexie was strongly criticised by Laura Burrows from IGN, being called "awful". Burrows also wrote: "Everything she says and does is obnoxious and does harm to someone. Lexie is an idiot and should be shot or drowned or exploded." The character's relationship with Sloan has been well received, with Chris Monfette of IGN writing: "Sloan's honest relationship with Lexie helped to make both characters infinitely more interesting and mature." Leigh served as a primary vocalist in "Song Beneath the Song", the Grey's Anatomy music event, and was well received, with the Boston Herald's Mark Perigard praising her performance. In 2007, at the 14th Screen Actors Guild Awards, Leigh and the rest of the cast of Grey's Anatomy, received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.