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‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Boss Speaks Out After Shocking Alex Karev Tribute Episode: It’s ‘Impossible to Say Goodbye’

Another OG is gone. Grey’s Anatomy said goodbye to Justin Chambers‘ Alex Karev on the Thursday, March 5, episode in an emotional tribute.

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For weeks, everyone thought Alex as ghosting them. In the beginning of the episode, however, his closest friends received letters from him. While Chambers, 49, did not return for the episode, he did the voiceovers while each letter was revealed. So, where was Alex? He left Seattle — and his wife, Jo (Camilla Luddington) — to be with Izzie (Katherine Heigl) and their twins in Kansas.

'Grey's Anatomy' Boss Speaks Out After Shocking Alex Karev Tribute Episode Justin Chambers
Justin Chambers as Alex Karev on ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Following the episode, showrunner Krista Vernoff spoke out about the shocking exit.

“It is nearly impossible to say goodbye to Alex Karev,” Vernoff, 46, said in a statement to Us Weekly. “That is as true for me and for all of the writers at Grey’s Anatomy as it is for the fans. We have loved writing Alex. And we have loved watching Justin Chambers’ nuanced portrayal of him.”

She continued: “For 16 seasons, 16 years, we have grown up alongside Alex Karev. We have been frustrated by his limitations and we have been inspired by his growth and we have come to love him deeply and to think of him as one of our very best friends. We will miss him terribly. And we will always be grateful for his impact, on our show, on our hearts, on our fans, on the world.”

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In January, Chambers announced that he would not be returning to the medical drama. He made his last appearance in a November 2019 episode. While Vernoff hadn’t spoken directly about his exit at the time, she did reveal to Variety that they were being very careful while discussing what to do with the character.

“It was a very careful threading of a needle, where we are giving a little bit of information and pain to Jo,” she said in February. “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.”

Katherine Heigl Justin Chambers Grey's Anatomy
Katherine Heigl as Izzie and Justin Chambers as Alex on ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

Jo got that clarity in this episode, as Alex’s letter to her explained that while he loved her, he also loved Izzie and he didn’t want to leave their children. He also told Jo he already signed the divorce papers and left everything to her.

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While Jo cried while reading the letters, at the end of the episode, she got up and went back to work.

Grey’s Anatomy airs on ABC Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.

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