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Fingers crossed for new horizons. On May 6, Grey’s Anatomy fans were devastated when the ABC medical drama confirmed Jesse Williams (Jackson Avery) is leaving in season 17. The beloved actor joined the cast in season 6, and his departure will surely impact viewers for weeks — ahem, years — to come. So here’s what happened to Jackson and when Williams’ last Grey’s Anatomy episode will air on ABC.

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers about Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) in Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 Episode 14.]

Why Jackson Avery is leaving after ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 17 Episode 14? A brief recap

Headshot of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Jesse Williams for season 17
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Jesse Williams | Mike Rosenthal via Getty Images

Williams is leaving Grey’s Anatomy. But luckily, Jackson didn’t die in season 17, and the character is departing Seattle unscathed. 

In Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 Episode 14, titled “Look Up Child,” Jackson revealed his next big step — he wanted to run his family’s foundation to bring equity to healthcare. But to do this, Jackson needed to move to Boston.

Meanwhile, Jackson asked his ex-wife, April Kepner (Sarah Drew), and daughter, Harriet Kepner-Avery, to come with him. Jackson also spoke with his father, Robert Avery (Eric Roberts), who previously ran away from the foundation. Initially, both April and Robert weren’t sure about Jackson’s decision. But they eventually showed their support.

At the end of the Grey’s Anatomy episode, April also revealed she separated from Matthew Taylor (Justin Bruening), who she married in the season 14 finale. So now, the future looks bright for “Japril” fans as Jackson, April, and Harriet leave Seattle and head to Boston.

The ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ team confirms Jesse Williams is leaving

With Jackson’s exit revealed in Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 Episode 14, many fans wondered about Williams’ future. Then showrunner Krista Vernoff confirmed Williams is leaving after 11 seasons on the Shondaland series. According to Deadline, Vernoff said in a statement:

Jesse Williams is an extraordinary artist and activist. Watching his evolution these past 11 years both on-screen and off has been a true gift. Jesse brings so much heart, such depth of care, and so much intelligence to his work. We will miss Jesse terribly and we will miss Jackson Avery — played to perfection for so many years.

Meanwhile, Williams released a statement of his own. Per Deadline, the Grey’s Anatomy star thanked Vernoff, creator Shonda Rhimes, Ellen Pompeo, and Debbie Allen for the “boundless opportunities” they provided him. Williams also took a moment to address the fans and his overall experience on the show. He said:

As an actor, director and person, I have been obscenely lucky to learn so much from so many and I thank our beautiful fans, who breathe so much energy and appreciation into our shared worlds. The experience and endurance born of creating nearly 300 hours of leading global television is a gift I’ll carry always. I am immensely proud of our work, our impact and to be moving forward with so many tools, opportunities, allies and dear friends.

When is Jesse Williams’ last episode as Jackson Avery on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?


‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Sarah Drew’s Remarks About Jesse Williams Will Make You Watch April and Jackson’s New Episode With Excitement

According to Deadline, Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 Episode 14 wasn’t Williams’ last episode as Jackson. The publication revealed that the actor’s final farewell will be titled “Tradition” and air on Thursday, May 20, 2021. 

That said, TVLine reported that the Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 finale will be released two weeks after Williams’ final exit on Thursday, June 3. So it doesn’t look like Jackson will have anything to do with the episode that’s planned as “either a season finale or a series finale.” But whatever happens next, we’re sure it’ll be extraordinary.

Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 airs Thursdays on ABC.