Jessica Capshaw Reflects on 10-Year 'Grey's Anatomy' Run Before Her Final Episode

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ABC

Jessica Capshaw is sharing her fondest memories as she prepares to exit Grey's Anatomy.

The 41-year-old actress will leave the long-running medical drama after a 10-year run playing Dr. Arizona Robbins, and in the days leading up to her farewell episode airing Thursday, she took to Instagram to reflect on her life-changing experience and the invaluable friendships she's created with her fellow castmates.

Capshaw began her "10 Days of Memories for 10 Seasons of Grey's" last week, sharing a clip of her first appearance on the series in season five, when she made her debut as a pediatric surgeon. She shared a behind-the-scenes story about Arizona's memorable introduction, where she was seen leaving on wheeled sneakers.

"During my costume fitting Mimi (our costume designer) had a few shoe options. ... However, at the end of the row of shoes were a pair in a much bigger box and that had little wheels in the heels...it was love at first sight and I was convinced that OF COURSE this uniquely named character that I was about to play HAD TO WEAR THEM," Capshaw wrote. "The above clip is the result of that."

Season 5...my first episode. During my costume fitting Mimi (our costume designer) had a few shoe options. They were all cute tennis shoes that were all fitting for the bouncy peds surgeon that I had been hired to play for three episodes. However, at the end of the row of shoes were a pair in a much bigger box and that had little wheels in the heels...it was love at first sight and I was convinced that OF COURSE this uniquely named character that I was about to play HAD TO WEAR THEM. So Mimi let me take them home so that I could learn how to use them. I figured I had a couple of days. Then the call sheet came out a couple hours later and it turned out I was working the very next day. I put them on at home and inch by unsteady inch I learned to roll just a little bit further and further until...I looked like I knew what I was doing. The above clip is the result of that. Special credit to @christopher_gav for holding my hands (and my heart) as I learned.

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Capshaw also shared the origins of a sweet moment featuring former Grey's star Sara Ramirez, who played Callie Torres, dancing to Beyonce from the sixth season as the start of Arizona and Callie's friendship and romance began to blossom.

"I love, love, love, love this scene. It was the beginning of everything and it was so fresh, so fun, so flirty and so carefree," Capshaw captioned the video. "Sara and I picked Beyoncé and they blasted it while we just danced and laughed while the camera rolled...makes my face hurt from smiling when I think about it."

In another post, Capshaw shared a happy photo of Arizona and Callie's wedding in season seven, reminiscing about the roller-coaster ride Arizona went through on the show and life-changing moments Capshaw had in her personal life.

"Season 7...it was the best of times, it was the worst of times...massive car accident, pregnancies (real life and tv life), births (real life and tv life), saving lives, losing lives, weddings, breakups, hilarity and heartbreak," she remembered. "Resilience, grit, perseverance and some insanely hard work. And a musical episode on top. And I am grateful for IT ALL."

When it came time to reflect on season nine, the year when Arizona's leg was amputated following the fatal plane crash the season before, Capshaw shared a photo of the Grey Sloan doctor in a state of distress. "There was a lot for Arizona to work through. I think the season speaks for itself...sometimes you gotta work through the dark and twisty to make your way to the light," she wrote.

Capshaw praised her co-star, Justin Chambers, who has played Alex Karev since the series' debut in 2005, calling him "a beacon of light." 

"He has a graduate degree in gratitude, faith, friendship, compassion, empathy, humor and fine hats. He makes everyone feel like he’s their biggest fan and never misses the opportunity to give someone a compliment," she lovingly wrote. "I have learned infinite life lessons from him and I have loved every moment of working with him. I love the profound and beautiful way that he speaks about loving his wife and their kids. And I really love the character that he has created over the past 14 years. He makes it look easy but I promise you that it isn’t. I haven’t been able to think about not working with him anymore without tearing up and there’s very good reason for that..."

This guy. Oh my, oh my, this guy...from the instant that we first worked together until the very last he has been a beacon of light. He has a graduate degree in gratitude, faith, friendship, compassion, empathy, humor and fine hats. He makes everyone feel like he’s their biggest fan and never misses the opportunity to give someone a compliment. I have learned infinite life lessons from him and I have loved every moment of working with him. I love the profound and beautiful way that he speaks about loving his wife and their kids. And I really love the character that he has created over the past 14 years. He makes it look easy but I promise you that it isn’t. I haven’t been able to think about not working with him anymore without tearing up and there’s very good reason for that... @officialjustinchambers #teampedsforever #season10

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On a lighter note, she shared her love of gag reels, posting two featuring fellow outgoing star Sarah Drew, as well as James Pickens Jr., Ellen Pompeo, Jesse Williams, Chandra Wilson, Jason George, Chambers, Kelly McCreary, Camilla Luddington, Debbie Allen,Geena Davis (who returned in last week's episode) and Caterina Scorsone.

#season11

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Can you feel my love for the gag reels? Cuz it’s real reel. #season13

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See more of Capshaw's memories of her time on Grey's below.

Family. Respect. Love.

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Capshaw and Drew's departures from Grey's were announced in March. Clues to how their respective characters would be written out started to come to fruition in the penultimate season 14 episode, when Arizona agreed to open up a new clinic with Davis' character, Nicole Herman, and relocate to New York City to be closer to her daughter. It remains unclear how Drew's character, April Kepner, will be written out.

Earlier this month, Pompeo hinted to ET that Capshaw and Drew would not have tragic endings in their farewell episode. "You only get killed off when your behavior is bad. If you're a nice actor, you die nice," she said, adding, "But yeah, these endings aren't tragic."

Grey's Anatomy airs its season 14 finale on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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