Things have been rough lately for longtime Grey's Anatomy fans. On Jan. 10, Justin Chambers announced he's leaving the series, which he has starred on since the very beginning of its 16-season run. While some fans are focused on coping with the loss of his character, Dr. Alex Karev, others are already wondering exactly how his departure will be worked into the series' story. Specifically, the Shondaland show is known for giving characters tragic endings, so many are worried Alex Karev will die in Grey's Anatomy to explain his absence.
Grey's Anatomy has had a whole lot of cast members rotate in and out over its nearly two decades on the air, but there are a few original cast members who have stuck it out through all these years: Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey), James Pickens Jr. (Richard Webber), and Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey). Chambers was the fourth member of that group up until very recently. It's a loss a lot of fans are taking hard because they've spent so much time getting to know and investing in Alex as a character. Having the beloved character die would be twisting the knife, and it's a possibility many fans are not ready to face.
Chambers' announcement of his departure shook fans not only because it means Karev won't be on the show anymore, but also because it was revealed his final episode has already aired; his last appearance was in the Nov. 14 episode. Fans learned Karev wasn't in Nov. 21 mid-season finale because he was taking care of his ailing mother, but now they know the real reason he wasn't there — because Chambers had left the show. When the series returns for the second half of the season, viewers might find out Karev has extended his trip indefinitely... or there may be something darker.
The mid-season finale of Grey's Anatomy ended with a car crashing through a bar, so audiences can already expect some high-stakes action when the show returns. But, in light of Chambers' exit, this big drama could also be incorporated into Karev's goodbye. The character had just settled into his life with wife Jo (Camilla Luddington) and became the chief at Pac-North, so it doesn't make sense for him to simply leave Seattle. A sudden and unexpected tragedy seems like the only logical reason Karev would no longer be around. So maybe just ot be safe, fans should brace themselves for the worst.
Season 16 of Grey's Anatomy returns to ABC on Jan. 23 in a two-hour crossover event with Station 19 starting at 8 p.m. ET.