It’s never easy when your favorite character leaves one of your favorite shows. Fans of ABC’s long-running drama Grey’s Anatomy, however, should be pretty used to saying goodbye.
Over the years, we’ve said goodbye to original cast members George O’Malley (TR Knight), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), and, of course, McDreamy himself, Derek Shepherd ( Patrick Dempsey). So when Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) left Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital, we should have been ready, but the tears still came.
For 16 seasons, Justin Chambers played the overly blunt and often grumpy Alex Karev. Viewers saw the character rise from humble surgical intern to chief of pediatric surgery, as well as a brief stint as the hospital’s chief of surgery. We saw him mature into Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) “person” after Yang left.
Like most characters on the show, Karev had a series of relationships with co-workers and even a patient. We think that he had found complete happiness when he married Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington). But at the end of season 16, Alex packed up and moved to Kansas to be with Izzie and her two children, leaving Meredith as the last member of her in-group from season 1.
Grey’s Anatomy fans know that the actors who leave haven’t always left on the best of terms. Some left after clashing with the show’s creator, Shonda Rimes, others had highly publicized run-ins with their co-stars. But for Justin Chambers, the decision to leave did not come from animosity, but from a desire to turn the page.
Speaking about his departure, Justin Chambers explained that the decision was not easy, but he believed it was the right one. He told the outlet that being on a show for 15 years, playing a character “that defined so much of [his] life for him,” makes leaving extremely difficult. However, he went on to note that he wanted to explore other roles and other opportunities to “diversify [his] acting roles and career options.” In the message, the actor made sure to thank the production, cast, crew “and of course the fans for an extraordinary ride.”