GREY'S ANATOMY star Brooke Smith has been axed from the hit U.S. drama, putting an end to the show's first major lesbian plotline.
Smith plays cardiac doctor Erica Hahn, who is romantically involved with Sara Ramirez's character Dr Calliope 'Callie' Torres.
But Smith was stunned to learn their on-screen relationship would come to an end after learning of the producers' decision.
Smith tells Entertainment Weekly, "I was very excited when they told me that Erica and Callie were going to have this relationship. And I really hoped we were going to show what happens when two women fall in love and that they were going to treat it like any heterosexual couple on TV.
"And so I was surprised and disappointed when they just suddenly told me that they couldn't write for my character anymore."
But series creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes is adamant the decision is unrelated to the sexual orientation of Smith's character.
A statement released by Rhimes reads: "Brooke Smith was obviously not fired for playing a lesbian. Clearly it's not an issue as we have a lesbian character on the show - Calliope Torres. Sara Ramirez is an incredible comedic and dramatic actress and we wanted to be able to play up her magic.
"Unfortunately, we did not find that the magic and chemistry with Brooke's character would sustain in the long run. The impact of the Callie/Erica relationship will be felt and played out in a story for Callie. I believe it belittles the relationship to simply replace Erica with 'another lesbian'."
Smith's final appearance is due to air in the U.S. later this month (Nov08).