Why Did Burke Leave Christina In “Grey’s Anatomy”? Here’s The Real Reason

Dr. Preston Burke
Dr. Preston Burke

Why did Burke leave Christina at the altar? Everyone felt bad for Christina since she was left by herself at her own altar. But in order to get the answer to this question, we need to travel back more than ten years to when “Grey’s Anatomy” unceremoniously made the news. After making homophobic remarks against co-star T.R. Knight, Isaiah Washington, who portrayed Dr. Preston Burke in the popular medical drama, “was not asked to return” (read: fired).

He apparently used the term “behind-the-scenes” for the first time once, defending himself in front of reporters backstage at the Golden Globes. It wasn’t very good. Washington made it quite known that he was highly dissatisfied with the network’s decision to terminate his contract at the conclusion of the third season, which caused a huge issue that was a public relations nightmare for ABC.

Preston Burke And Christina Yang

The most dramatic manner for Dr. Burke to exit the program was by abandoning his fiancée Christina (Sandra Oh) at the altar. She suffered a severe asthma attack and needed to be forcefully removed from her bridal dress. Burke was seldom ever addressed again on the program. Why did Burke leave Christina, then? Let’s investigate the true cause in more depth! 

Who Was Dr. Preston Burke On “Grey’s Anatomy”?

The top cardiothoracic surgeon at Seattle Grace Hospital, Dr. Preston Burke, was introduced in the Grey’s Anatomy pilot. The romance between Burke and Cristina Yang, an intern, ended because of their disparity in status (Sandra Oh, who would later not die in Killing Eve). Burke and Cristina reconciled following Cristina’s miscarriage.

In Season 2, Episode 25, “17 Seconds,” Burke was shot in the shoulder, inflicting nerve damage and causing hand tremors. Because he couldn’t operate on people, he needed Cristina to help him during surgery in case his tremors were too extreme. After Chief of Surgery Richard Webber learned of Burke’s inability to operate, Cristina and Burke momentarily stopped speaking to one another, but he finally made a proposal.


As Dr. Derek Shepherd successfully accomplished the operation on his hand, he even made a full recovery from his wound. Everything seemed to be going well until the Season 3 finale, when Burke walked away from Cristina at the altar and lost his job, raising the crucial issue of why did Burke leave Christina.

Burke was a recurring character in Season 10 and appeared again as part of Cristina’s exit narrative, so it wasn’t the final time fans saw him. He extended an invitation to Cristina, and she fulfilled his promise to accompany him to a cardiothoracic research center in Switzerland.

Burke And Christina’s Relationship Timeline On “Grey’s Anatomy”

Around 2004, Shonda Rhimes developed a television program about a team of professionals at Seattle Grace Hospital. The first episode of Grey’s Anatomy, “A Hard Day’s Night,” introduced viewers to Cristina Yang, Preston Burke, and cardiothoracic surgeon Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo). Fans discovered how Cristina and Burke formed a covert love connection at the start of the season.

Burke And Christina’s Relationship

The surgeon candidate humiliates Meredith for courting their other employer, Dr. Derek Shepherd, before making the revelation (Patrick Dempsey). Burke and Cristina steadily go from being covert lovers to becoming a relationship during seasons 1 and 2. Oh, and Washington gained notoriety for their depiction of a mixed-race couple off-screen.

The Killing Eve actress said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that their connection never wavered. Seven years after his departure, she mentioned that Washington had behaved as she had recalled. Cristina Yang and Preston Burke’s relationship intensified once they made it known to the world. Cristina underwent emergency surgery in season 2 due to an ectopic pregnancy. Burke was shot while attempting to revive a patient a few episodes later.

A Still From Season 3 Episode 25 Of Grey’s Anatomy

As Cristina helped her boyfriend recover from the gunshot, the pair grew closer. Burke asked Cristina to marry him in season 3. However, Yang’s refusal to behave in the way he desired caused them to argue frequently. Preston and Cristina ultimately decided against getting married. Burke abandoned Cristina in the aisle in the third season finale and departed the city.

Why Did Burke Leave Christina?

One of the earliest departures from the series in its history happened after Isaiah Washington (Burke) quit after just three seasons. As the show’s popularity grew, viewers were shocked to see his character, Dr. Preston Burke, leave the show. It was not easy for him to go, though. As everyone is aware, intern Cristina Yang, played by Sandra Oh, and Burke started a romance in the show, but they later ended it. He walked away from her at the altar out of concern for each of their reputations.


However, in reality, it caused a lot of controversies when Isaiah Washington left Grey’s Anatomy. After uttering a racial epithet on stage, he lost his job as a cast member. Many fans mistakenly believed that T.R. Knight, who portrayed Dr. George O’Malley, was the target of the epithet, although it was actually made by Washington and Dempsey during a heated exchange.

The confrontation allegedly began over tardiness and turned into a violent altercation, according to Lynette Rice’s 2021 book How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy. Washington then made the offensive remark about Knight. Despite their disagreement, Dempsey and Washington claimed they had gotten over it in their tell-all book.

Any animosity between both the performer and the Grey’s Anatomy cast or crew had likely been settled in the time since the actor’s return in Season 10 to assist Oh in saying goodbye. Later, Washington starred for five seasons as a recurring character on The CW’s The 100 (which has lately been compared to Killing Eve), and she had guest appearances on the Starz series Survivor’s Remorse and P-Valley.