True love! It’s been more than a decade since Katherine Heigl appeared on Grey’s Anatomy, but her character, Izzie Stevens, was a major part of Justin Chambers’ departure from the series in March 2020.
Chambers, who played Alex Karev for 16 seasons on the ABC medical drama, announced his departure from the show in November 2019. While he last appeared on the series that month, he returned for a voiceover to close the character’s story arc. During the March 5, 2020, episode, viewers learned that Alex left his wife, Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington), to be with Izzie and their twins, whom she secretly welcomed without Alex knowing. Alex and Izzie, who dated on and off during the first six seasons, reconnected when he reached out for help to save Meredith (Ellen Pompeo)’s medical license.
“I love Jo deeply, still. I think I always will and if it was just about two women I love, I’d choose my wife. You know I would, but it’s not just her. Izzie made our kids,” Alex wrote in a letter Meredith. “She had our embryos.”
In his letter to Jo, Alex admitted she deserves more.
“This right here, this cowardness, it’s officially the worst thing I’ve ever done,” he wrote. “It’s about me, it’s not about you. You deserve so much better than this. I love you, Jo. I love that you are brilliant and brave and no matter what you go through you never let it hold you back. It makes you stronger, kinder. You made me kinder. You love me for exactly for who I was and I loved you. I love you. Maybe it’s not fair to say that but it’s true. But this is also true. I’m in love with Izzie.”
While fans were torn by the decision, which showrunner Krista Vernoff called “nearly impossible,” Pompeo was a fan.
“For me personally for Karev to go back to the beginning…. was the best possible story line,” the actress wrote on Instagram at the time. “It pays homage to those incredible first years and the incredible cast …that created a foundation so strong that the show is still standing. So let’s not be sad. As our fearless leader DA always says let’s PULL UP and celebrate the actors the writers and the fantastic crew who make this show come to life every week. No matter what the challenge or how tired we all are in the end… you keep us going…..That is worth dancing it out over!”
Grey’s Anatomy airs on ABC Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.
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Scroll through to revisit Alex and Izzie’s love story: