‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Jesse Williams Says Alex Karev’s Exit Will ‘Form and Sever’ Relationships

On March 5, Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) left Grey’s Anatomy for good. Of course, the unexpected departure had fans heartbroken. But it’s likely the exit will hit the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial even harder. Following the episode, multiple cast members addressed the character’s final episode and hinted at what’s to come. Then on March 11, Jesse Williams — who plays Jackson Avery — shared his thoughts on Alex’s send-off episode and how the remaining characters will move forward as the Shondaland drama continues with the 16th season.

[Spoiler alert: Grey’s Anatomy Season 16, Episode 16.]

Why did Alex Karev leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?

Ever since the 350th episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Alex has been missing. Everyone assumed the character was taking care of his mom in Iowa. However, Alex’s wife, Jo Karev (Camilla Luddington), found out he never went. Then the Grey’s Anatomy episode titled “Leave the Light On” revealed what really happened to Alex.

In a series of letters, the peds surgeon explained he wasn’t coming back to Seattle. Apparently, Alex reunited with his ex-wife, Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) after contacting her for Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) medical license hearing in the 350th episode. Then when Alex talked to Izzie, he discovered she gave birth to his children — twins named Eli and Alexis. 

During their conversation, Alex learned Izzie used the embryos the couple made and froze when she was diagnosed with cancer. Upon hearing the news, Alex realized he still loved Izzie. So he abandoned his life in Seattle to be with Izzie and raise his kids on a farm in Kansas. 

Jesse Williams reacts to Alex Karev’s exit on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Jesse Williams as Jackson Avery and Justin Chambers as Alex Karev on ‘Greys Anatomy’ | John Fleenor via Getty Images

Following the March 5 episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Williams expressed his thoughts about Alex’s departure during an interview with Entertainment Tonight. And as expected, it seems there will be a ripple effect that stems from the original character’s grand exit.

“It can’t not reverberate. It’s such an incredible, impactful character,” Williams said. “I’ve always said that’s always been one of my favorite characters.”

He later added: “That character is specific and rooted and motivated. Yeah, it’s a big departure and it will impact all of us and impact the relationships that form and sever as a result, for sure.”

Meanwhile, Williams touched on Chambers leaving the Grey’s Anatomy set, and the actor had nothing but kind things so say about his former co-star.

“[Justin’s] been one of the sweetest and funniest guys on set with me and everyone, certainly not just me,” Williams said. “He’s a light and he’s so unassuming and chill as a person.” 

‘Grey’s Anatomy’s Ellen Pompeo and Chris Carmack react to Alex Karev’s departure episode

Now Williams isn’t the only Grey’s Anatomy cast member to address Alex’s exit. After “Leave a Light On” aired on ABC, Pompeo wrote a note on Instagram to thank the fans, Shonda Rhimes, and Debbie Allen for Alex’s legacy and giving Alex the “best send-off.” 

“For me personally for Karev to go back to the beginning…. was the best possible storyline,” Pompeo wrote. “It pays homage to those incredible first years and the incredible cast …that created a foundation so strong that the show is still standing. So let’s not be sad. “

She continued: “As our fearless leader DA always says let’s PULL UP and celebrate the actors the writers and the fantastic crew who make this show come to life every week. No matter what the challenge or how tired we all are in the end… you keep us going…..That is worth dancing it out over! So much love and gratitude to you all.”

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Meanwhile, Chris Carmack — who plays Atticus “Link” Lincoln on Grey’s Anatomy — echoed Pompeo’s statement when speaking with People, noting the beauty in the episode’s ability to highlight the 15 years of Alex’s life on the show. Carmack also teased how Jo will move past the big departure. And although the actor didn’t give any definite answers, he believes in Jo’s strength.

“Jo is a tough character,” Carmack said. “She has come so far and has grown so much. She’s a survivor she can stand on her own. I think she’s going to rise from the smoke of all this.”

 Grey’s Anatomy Season 16 airs Thursday nights on ABC.

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