Actor Eric Dane has stunned fans by quitting hit U.S. medical drama Grey's Anatomy.
The star has portrayed Dr. Mark 'MCSteamy' Sloan in creator Shonda Rhimes' show since 2006, but he has decided it's time to hang up his scrubs.
He tells, "I am extremely grateful to everyone at Grey's, (network) ABC and Shondaland for the experience and memories I have had over the course of this run. It has been wonderful to work alongside and learn from a creative force such as Shonda Rhimes."
Rhimes has branded Sloan "one of the most beloved characters on Grey's Anatomy" and adds, "(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.
"We're a big family here at Grey's with a long history together and Eric will always remain an important part of our family. I wish him the best and I look forward to watching him as he continues to steam up the big and small screen."
The ninth season of the show, which will be Dane's last, is set to debut in the U.S. in September (12).