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Why Grey’s Anatomy’s Richard Flood Was ‘Very Happy’ Despite ABC Drama’s Latest Exit

(Image credit: ABC)

Spoiler alert! This story contains minor spoilers for the Grey’s Anatomy Season 18 episode “Living in a House Divided.”

Cormac Hayes said his goodbyes and walked out the doors of Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital for likely the last time during “Living in a House Divided.” It was announced during February’s winter premiere that Richard Flood would be leaving Grey’s Anatomy after playing Hayes for three years on the ABC medical drama. Because the character’s story arc came to a natural end, Flood said he was actually “very happy” with the way the exit came together.

Hayes was presented with a moral dilemma in the Season 18 winter premiere, when Owen Huntthinking he was going to die — admitted that he’d helped a terminal patient end his life, and needed Hayes’ help in doing the same for others. When he couldn’t convince Hunt to turn himself in, Hayes chose to leave his job and take his children back to Ireland, rather than risk getting in trouble for Hunt’s actions. Richard Flood spoke to Deadline about his character’s exit, and his perhaps unexpectedly happy feelings upon learning he would be leaving Grey’s Anatomy.

Honestly, I was very happy. I felt it was the right time. When I started, I always through (sic) that three years on something was really as much as I’d like to do. I’m always eager to see what else is out there and try and stretch myself in different directions and do different types of TV and film. Three years was perfect for me, so I was very happy.

There was no real fanfare for Hayes’ exit in “Living in a House Divided.” He had a conversation with Meredith, who apparently had been trying to get in touch with him. He was a little cold to her, revealing that he hadn’t returned her calls because, “If I say goodbye to you, Grey, I might not actually leave.” This relationship just wasn’t in the cards for McWidow, but Hayes did credit Meredith with giving him hope that there could be life (and love) after his wife died. 

Similarly, Hayes had a conversation with Teddy, who was in full-on detective mode to find out what Owen refused to tell her. It was a nice moment for Cormac to recognize that he owed his life to Owen, and he refused to give up the secret. Richard Flood said that while the powers that be at Grey’s Anatomy put it all in motion, he was on the same page as far as it being time to move on. 

They came up with the exit. I didn’t know until closer to when we were shooting how it would actually happen but there’d been a few conversations during the summer as far as how the season would unfold, and then during the season there were more conversations about what might be good [for the show] and what might be good for me. Having three years on the show felt right for me, and I think that the arc of the character with all the developments in the story was probably coming to its natural end, which was great. I was very happy that everybody felt the same, and they just got to it.

It sounds like Richard Flood wasn’t entirely caught off-guard by his character’s story tapering off, and that he’s at least pumped about it being a good time to move on to other projects. 

As Grey’s Anatomy says goodbye to one character, though, it looks like a familiar face will be back for next week’s episode. David Hamilton’s Parkinson’s trial resumes, and Tom Koracick (Greg Germann) will be back for a second guest appearance since his Season 17 exit. I wonder if he’ll pick up on the tension between Teddy and Owen

Grey’s Anatomy returns at 9 p.m. ET next Thursday, March 10, on ABC. Check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what other new and returning shows are premiering. 

Mom of two and hard-core ’90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.

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