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Sandra Oh won’t return to ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ before it ends: ‘I have moved on’

Sandra Oh
Sandra Oh appreciates that people still want to see her return to “Grey’s Anatomy.”
(Micha Theiner / For the Times)

During her tenure as Dr. Cristina Yang on “Grey’s Anatomy,” Sandra Oh was the first to say one of the show’s most iconic lines: “You’re my person.”

Cristina’s person — Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) — spent much of the long-running medical drama’s 17th season in critical condition because of COVID-19. The unconscious Meredith shared time with a number of fan-favorite characters from “Grey’s” past on the beach of her dreams, including late husband Derek (Patrick Dempsey), late roommate George (T.R. Knight) and late sister Lexie (Chyler Leigh).

This series of beloved guest stars — and the long wait for a Season 18 renewal, announced Monday by ABC, has prompted plenty of speculation about Oh’s possible return to the show for a highly anticipated Meredith-Cristina reunion.

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But Oh put those hopes to rest during the season premiere of The Times’ “Asian Enough” podcast.

“Asian Enough” is a podcast about being Asian American, featuring conversations with special guests like Kamala Harris, Sandra Oh and Viet Thanh Nguyen.

“No,” Oh said when asked whether she has considered a return to “Grey’s.” “I love it, though, and this is also why I really appreciate the show … that I still get asked this.”

Oh, who has since moved on to star in the acclaimed “Killing Eve,” was part of the “Grey’s” cast for its first 10 seasons . The actor shared that she has come to appreciate Cristina more the longer she has been away from the show but that she has moved on.

“It’s very rare, I would say, to be able to see in such a way the impact of a character,” said Oh. “In some ways, you do your work as a bubble and you let it go. I left that show, my God, seven years ago almost. So in my mind, it’s gone. But for a lot of people, it’s still very much alive. And while I understand and I love it, I have moved on.

“So please come with me to ‘Killing Eve’ and on to [the upcoming Netflix series] ‘The Chair’ and on to the other projects,” Oh continued. “Come see the characters that I’m playing that are much more deeply integrated in … the Asian American experience.”

Although Oh praised “Grey’s” for being progressive for its time, she noted that the series deliberately avoided talking about race, despite the potential to incorporate the subject into the story, because that wasn’t “the style of the show.”

The “Grey’s Anatomy” showrunner explains how they pulled off that season-opening shocker — and why Katherine Heigl didn’t get the sendoff fans wanted.

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“One time … I wanted to do this really good joke with Sara Ramirez,” Oh recalled. “Cristina was ambitious and just trying to get ahead, right? So she was just kind of trying to pull the like, you know, the POC [person of color] card with Dr. Torres. But it wasn’t the time. It just wasn’t the time, and it wasn’t the part of the show. So it wasn’t anything that I actually focused on.” (More recently, the series has set an episode against protests over police brutality and featured discussion of racial inequities in COVID-19 care.)

Oh did have some thoughts about what Cristina would be up to during the pandemic, other than checking in on Meredith’s condition from abroad. She believes that in addition to COVID-19 itself, Cristina would be trying to address the systemic issues in healthcare that have become even more apparent during the pandemic than they were prior.

“Cristina, like I imagine all the healthcare workers, [would be] wickedly at the front line trying to solve the big problems,” says Oh. “This pandemic [has made] the wealth gaps … even more obvious and problematic, so [she] probably [is] attacking the systematic problems, not just the day in and day out.”


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