After Grey’s Anatomy star Justin Chambers abruptly left the show in the middle of Season 16, showrunner Krisa Vernoff has promised that they will explain the sudden disappearance of Dr. Alex Karev in future episodes. Vernoff says the process is a “very careful threading of a needle” where they will give Jo Karev (Camilla Luddington) a ”little bit of pain and information.”
“We’re, episode by episode, illuminating the story of where Alex is. And it takes us quite a few more episodes to get there and to give the audience clarity,” Vernoff told Variety.
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She added that because of Jo’s previous storyline that featured her going through “so much pain and so much grief,” writers wanted to be careful with how they handled her husband’s absence.
“And so it’s a bit of a mystery [what’s happening with Alex], so that we don’t watch Jo in the same place that we watched her last season. We did it as carefully as we could. But it takes a while to get there,” said Vernoff.
Chambers shocked fans in January when he announced that he was leaving Grey’s Anatomy after 16 seasons. Chambers was one of the last remaining OG characters that have been on the series since its 2005 debut, along with Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey), James Pickens Jr. (Richard Webber), and Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey).
The 49-year-old said that there was no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that has defined so much of his life for the past 15 years. However, for some time he has hoped to diversify his acting roles and career choices. Chambers explained that as he gets ready to turn 50 – with the support of his wife and five kids – he has decided that now is the time.
Chambers thanked show creator Shonda Rhimes and his fellow original cast members – along with the current cast and crew – for “an extraordinary ride.”
The last time fans saw Alex Karev on Grey’s Anatomy was in a November 2019 episode when he left Seattle to take care of his mother. After Chambers announced his exit, the show has hinted at Alex’s departure in some of Jo’s dialogue. In the February 13th episode, she told Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) that Alex had stopped returning her phone calls and he was “going through something.”
New episodes of Grey’s Anatomy air Thursday nights on ABC.