Meredith Grey is losing another best friend at Grey Sloan Memorial. Justin Chambers announced his decision to leave Grey’s Anatomy after 16 seasons on Friday, January 10.
“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,” the 49-year-old actor said in statement to Deadline. “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.”
Chambers went on to thank the cast and the crew of the long-running ABC drama.
“As I move on from Grey’s Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda Rhimes, original cast members Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens, and the rest of the amazing cast and crew, both past and present, and, of course, the fans for an extraordinary ride,” he concluded.
Chambers has played Alex Karev since the season 1 premiere of Grey’s Anatomy in 2005. According to TVLine, his final episode aired on November 14. He was added to the pilot through digital effects after Rhimes felt like something was missing from the series.
“They had shot the pilot a year before it aired. They felt they needed to tinker with it a little more. I had done a pilot for ABC, [Secret Service], that didn’t get picked up,” Chambers told TV Guide in 2016. “They liked what I did in that, and they brought me in to do a screen test with Ellen. I guess they felt they needed a jerk, so they brought in this jerk. It worked out.”
Original stars Sandra Oh (Christina Yang), Katherine Heigl (Izzie Stevens), T.R. Knight (George O’Malley) and Patrick Dempsey (Derek Shepherd) have all left the medical drama, which is currently airing its 16th season. Rhimes has made it clear in the past that the series, which has already been picked up for season 17, will end when Pompeo decides to leave.
“The show is so popular. Everywhere I go, whether it’s Italy, whether it’s France, London, Kansas … the people that come up to me with tears in their eyes and tell me how meaningful the show is to them,” the actress said in October 2018. “I got to keep doing it, man, because we’re touching lives and making a difference.”
Grey’s Anatomy airs on ABC Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!