‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Can the Show Survive Without Alex Karev?

Grey’s Anatomy has given fans more than it’s fair share of heart attacks throughout the show’s time on television. It only takes watching a few seasons of Grey’s to realize that it’s not like other shows. In most shows, you can rest assured that the main characters are safe. They aren’t going to be killed off because they are too integral to the storyline.

Justin Chambers
Justin Chambers | Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images

On Grey’s however, no one is above being killed off. Throughout the seasons, several main characters have died or been written off the series and the show still goes on.

In season 16, we were down to just four of the original cast members, Meredith Grey, Alex Karev, Miranda Bailey, and Richard Webber. Now, it looks like we are losing one more. But, can the show survive another main character’s exit?

Why is Justin Chambers leaving the show?

Grey’s Anatomy invented the idea of having a “person.” Someone who gets you and who is there for you no matter what. In the beginning, Cristina Yang was Grey’s person. When she moved away, that role went to Karev. But now, Grey will be losing him as well, as Justin Chambers, who plays Karev, just announced that he will be leaving the show.

His reasoning? He’s simply ready to do something else.

“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,” he said in a statement to Deadline. “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.”

But he’s not burning any bridges with his exit.

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“As I move on from Grey’s Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda Rimes, 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,” he continued.

How will Justin Chambers be written out?

Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s, is the queen of stories. Therefore, she doesn’t leave any character’s storyline just hanging open. So, when people want to leave the show, she writes them out. These abrupt endings have included ordinary things like characters leaving for a new job or to pursue a relationship and tragic endings like the death of George o’ Malley or Derek Shepherd.

So, how will Karev be written out? Well, apparently, he already has been. The last time we saw Karev on the show, he was heading out of town to take care of his mother. Now, he simply won’t return from the trip.

The big question on fans’ minds now is what will happen to Jo, Karev’s wife. The series spent a good portion of this season focused on Jo and building her character’s backstory. All of that work could not have been for nothing.

Is ‘Grey’s’ over?

Despite losing almost all of its original cast members, there has been no indication that the series has been canceled or is coming to an end. Grey’s has made it through big-name exits in the past. When Patrick Dempsey left, everyone thought the show was over. Derek and Meredith were the central couple of the show. But still, Grey’s survived and there is no reason to believe it won’t again.