‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Justin Chambers Is Leaving as Alex Karev Without a Proper Exit and Fans Are Blindsided

As any Grey’s Anatomy fan will tell you, the final four original cast members — Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson, and James Pickens. Jr — are sacred. The actors have been starring in the hit ABC drama since the series premiere in 2005, and most viewers believed in their everlasting presence until the show’s end. But recently, Chambers announced his exit from Grey’s Anatomy, leaving Alex Karev behind at the start of the new year. And basically, fans are shocked and scared to see what happens when Meredith Grey’s person leaves for the second time.

Justin Chambers says goodbye to Alex Karev and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Justin Chambers as Alex Karev in 'Grey's Anatomy' Season 16
Justin Chambers as Alex Karev in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images

On Friday, Jan. 10, Chambers released a statement about his departure from Grey’s Anatomy. And it seems the 49-year-old actor wants to explore more options in his career.

“There’s no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that’s defined so much of my life for the past 15 years,” Chambers said. “For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices. And, as I turn 50 and am blessed with my remarkable, supportive wife and five wonderful children, now is that time.”

Chambers also thanked his peers on Grey’s Anatomy, namely the show’s original cast and creator, Shonda Rhimes.

“As I move on from Grey’s Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda [Rhimes], original cast members Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens, and the rest of the amazing cast and crew, both past and present, and, of course, the fans for an extraordinary ride,” Chambers said.

When will Justin Chambers leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ as Alex Karev?

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❤️❤️❤️ #GreysAnatomy

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Now, multiple media outlets — such as Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly, E! News, and TVLine — confirmed Chambers’ last Grey’s Anatomy episode as Alex already aired on Nov. 14.

In the monumental 350th episode of Grey’s Anatomy, titled “My Shot,” Alex supported and defended his person, Meredith, at a hearing over her medical license. At the end of the episode, Alex brought in a massive group of Meredith’s former patients, who testified for her. He also read letters from colleagues, including Meredith’s original person, Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh).

Then in the Grey’s Anatomy Season 16 midseason finale, Alex was nowhere to be seen. Alex returned home to take care of his mother. Meanwhile, his wife, Jo Karev — formerly Jo Wilson — stole a baby.

If the 350th episode is truly Chambers’ final episode, then Grey’s Anatomy fans will be left with an overwhelming flood of questions. What really happened to Alex? How will Meredith go on without her person? And what will become of Jo? But even if Alex’s official departure from Grey’s Anatomy happens off-screen, fans will have to wait and see what showrunner Krista Vernoff has planned for Chambers’ character moving forward.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ fans react to the exit of Justin Chambers

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Director Chandra Wilson in the house…

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Naturally, after the announcement of Chambers’ exit, Grey’s Anatomy fans expressed their shock and sadness on social media.

“Wow. Did not see it coming,” a fan wrote on Reddit. “I thought the four originals would finish it together.”

“i stopped watching grey’s a long time ago but finding out alex karev is leaving is breaking my heart,” another fan wrote on Twitter.

Some fans also shared their disappointment with Chambers’ final episode being the 350th special.

“alex karev, literal evil spawn, did not spend the last sixteen seasons of grey’s anatomy not only executing the most beautiful character development ever but also completely carrying the show on his back for this to happen,” a fan tweeted.

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And of course, most hope Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t choose to kill Alex in the future.

“Alex deserves so much better than to be killed off with whatever BS storyline Shonda comes up with,” a Redditor wrote. “At least if he’s off looking after his mom or whatever then Jo can leave and go with him and they can be happy.”

But even so, Grey’s Anatomy fans are still taking the time to thank Chambers for his portrayal of Alex.

“Truly the best character development on television,” a fan wrote. “Thank you @7JustinChambers for giving us Alex Karev, you/he will be missed.”

Read more: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’: This Owen Theory Will Make You Scream With Glee or Anger — There Is No In-Between