When Justin Chambers announced he was leaving Grey's Anatomy on Jan. 10, fans immediately began imagining what kind of heartbreaking on-screen death scene the beloved Dr. Alex Karev would get as his farewell. However, viewers won't get a dramatic goodbye to help them process the news of his departure. It turns out, Justin Chambers' final Grey's Anatomy episode as Karev has already aired.
Fans might recall Karev was absent in the fall finale of Grey's Anatomy, after his character left to care for his mother in the Nov. 14 episode. That episode, which also marked the show's 350th installment, now gets to claim another milestone, since it is the last time viewers will get to see Dr. Karev on their screens.
Because Karev's mom provided a natural breaking point in his storyline, it seems like an intuitive time for his character to leave Grey's (if it had to come at all) and suggests his departure was at least somewhat planned out before his Jan. 10 announcement. However, since most actors' departures are marked by a dramatic death or emotional farewell, it does seem like Chambers' decision to leave might have been made on the hastier side. ABC declined to comment on Chambers' departure.
Karev became a staple on the hit drama series after being introduced as a hospital intern in the 2005 premiere alongside colleagues Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Christina Yang (Sandra Oh), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), and George O’Malley (T.R. Knight). Audiences followed the ups and downs of his career and personal life as he became the head of pediatric surgery. Then, after participating in an insurance fraud to help out Meredith, he lost that job, but moved on to become the chief at the nearby Pac North Hospital.
Now, after 15 years with the show, Chambers said he's leaving in order to gain some diversity in his career, something many of his initial co-stars also pursued when they left they show years ago. He also mentioned his family is supportive of his decision.
Although fans are sad to see him go, they at least get the joy of knowing his character likely won't have an untimely death (unless he crashes his car on his way back from his mom's place, or something like that). Though optimistic audiences might hope he'll at least call to say goodbye in a future episode, or at least fire off a text a la Cristina Yang, what's more like is the Nov. 14 episode truly marked Karev's final moments with the series, meaning the only way to see more of this dreamy doctor is to go back and watch past episodes.
Season 16 of Grey's Anatomy will return to ABC on Jan. 23 in a two-hour crossover event with Station 19 starting at 8 p.m. ET.