Justin Chambers will get an actual goodbye on next week’s Grey’s Anatomy.
Since it was announced in January that Chambers, who has been a cast member since the show’s pilot, was leaving and his final episode aired in November, all we’ve known is that his character, Alex Karev, has apparently been in Iowa visiting his mother. Tonight, we learned he was never in Iowa at all.
Over the last couple of weeks, he stopped answering calls from his wife, Jo (Camilla Luddington) and momentarily appeared to be typing a text to Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), but the text never appeared.
Next week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy, titled “Leave A Light On,” will feature a farewell to the character and provide closure to his story. The promo for the episode is all about Alex, featuring some emotional flashbacks to his time on the series.
“After 16 seasons, we’re saying goodbye to Dr. Alex Karev. Next Thursday, she how his story ends,” the promo says.
ABC confirmed back in January that the November 14 episode was Chambers’ final episode, so it’s likely that we will not actually see new footage of Alex in the episode.
“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,” Chambers said in his statement. “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.”
Showrunner Krista Vernoff recently told Variety that building to Alex’s actual exit was a “very careful threading of a needle,” particularly because Jo has been through so much over the past couple of seasons, but we would soon learn what was actually happening.
“We’re, episode by episode, illuminating the story of where Alex is,” she said. “And it takes us quite a few more episodes to get there and to give the audience clarity…Jo went through so much pain and so much grief just last season that I wanted to be careful. And so it’s a bit of a mystery [what’s going on with Alex], so that we don’t watch Jo in the same place that we watched her in last season. We did it as carefully as we could. But it takes a while to get there.”
The episode airs next Thursday, March 5, at 9 p.m. on ABC.