Eric Dane Leaving “Grey’s Anatomy”

Dr. McSteamy is leaving the ER: Eric Dane — best known for his work as Dr. Mark Sloan on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy — has walked away from the longrunning medical drama after six sizzling seasons.

Dane, 39, broke the exit news in a chat with TV Line late Thursday:

“I am extremely grateful to everyone at Grey’s, ABC and Sondaland 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.”

As diehards Grey’s fans will recall, Sloan looked on in horror as the love of his life, Lexie (Chyler Leigh), passed away from injuries she suffered in a plane crash. The actor behind the dashing MD felt the cliffhanger season finale was the perfect time to gracefully bow out and turn his focus to other ventures.

Eric only joined the cast of the show in the 18th episode of the second season, but was so popular he was written in permanently. In statement, Grey’s creator Shonda Rimes praised Eric’s talent and wished him the best for his future, saying:

“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 Grey’s Anatomy will debut September 27, 2012.