One of the great things about dramatic television series that span years is that fans get a chance to be emotionally invested in characters’ development. Shonda Rhimes is especially adept at creating a web of characters who keep fans guessing, and Grey’s Anatomy has presented some truly puzzling examples of human psychology.
As fans attempt to guess at motivations and best next steps for their favorites, they are often left wishing for different outcomes than the ones they get on the screen.
Other times, fans try to piece together what they see through theories that make the stories richer — and sometimes more confusing — through their theoretical exploration.
Recently, some fans of the medical drama have taken up theories to explain some puzzling behavior from Alex Karev, and they think they’ve found an answer.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is a long-running medical drama
Grey’s Anatomy premiered in 2005 and is now on its 17th season. The series revolves around titular character Meredith Grey, and longtime viewers have gotten to see her rise through the ranks of the medical profession to become a commanding leader with a backstory full of heartache.
As the latest season has left fans wondering if Meredith will survive, the future of the entire series is on the line, and that’s given fans plenty of chances to reflect back on the relationships and tragedies from the past.
The show is notorious for killing off many of its main characters, and fans have often felt like no one is safe.
Still, some characters have been sent off without such a dramatic — and final — exit. While it’s nice to know that there are ways to leave Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital that don’t involve a funeral, having these living characters out there in the fictional universe can create some confusing moments for fans who want cohesion and clarity.
Alex Karev was a long-standing ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ character
Alex Karev (played by Justin Chambers) was one of the longest-running members of the original cast. He was with the series from its 2005 premiere until a dramatic departure in 2020. Alex’s leaving represents one of the notable times that a major character exited from the series without dying.
The exit was predicated on Chambers’ real-life decision to move on to other roles, but the fictional explanation was one rooted deeply in the show’s history.
Within the show, Alex’s decision to leave was explained by a reconnection to Izzie Stevens — a controversial character from the series’ earlier seasons portrayed by Katherine Heigl. When Alex found out that Izzie was living as a single mom and raising their twins, he decided to pack up and go be the father he wanted to be.
Alex Karev’s recent letters have confused fans
While getting to imagine an off-screen happy ending for Alex and Izzie may have provided some fans with a joyful — and rare — sense of closure, it caused some other issues.
Alex’s departure was, for many fans, wildly out of character as it meant he left behind Jo and a relationship they had built together over time. Fans are not convinced that Alex would throw that all away so casually, and one took to Reddit to complain about it: “The Alex that he had become with Jo wouldn’t have done this.”
As the original poster put forward a series of better potential endings, one included that Alex “witnessed a murderer or something and is gonna testify but gets deaththreats and has to be put under a secret identity somewhere else.”
Another commenter jumped on this possibility and said that it could still be true. The writer mused, “those letters were a cover story so people wouldn’t worry and go looking for him. It would make sense seeing as no one was ever shown trying to contact him after those letters and he didn’t even say anything about Mer being in a coma.”
Is Alex Karev living his best life through a second chance with Izzie? Or is he running away from a threat unseen to the viewers? We’ll probably never know for sure.