Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital will no longer be paging the prickly Dr. Alex Karev: Justin Chambers’ character is the latest in a long line of doctors to depart from “Grey’s Anatomy.”
The original cast member announced his exit from ABC’s long-running medical drama on Friday. After 16 seasons, he said he was leaving to “diversify” his acting roles.
“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 a statement to The Times. “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 thanked ABC, show creator 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.”
His character is part of the show’s original group of interns, nicknamed “MAGIC,” an acronym for the characters’ first names: Meredith (Pompeo), Alex (Chambers), George (T.R. Knight), Izzie (Katherine Heigl) and Christina (Sandra Oh). Now, series namesake Meredith Grey is the only one left of the group. The other remaining original characters are Drs. Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) and Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson).
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a big sendoff planned for the actor. Chambers’ final episode already aired Nov. 14. Viewers learned in the Nov. 21 episode that his character returned home to care for his ailing mother, TV Line reported.
On the same episode, Karev’s wife and fellow surgeon, Jo (Camilla Luddington), unexpectedly brought home an infant meant to be temporarily in her care as a safe surrender volunteer. Chambers’ character was said to have spent time in foster care as a child because his mother, played by Lindsay Wagner, has schizophrenia. She most recently appeared in three episodes of Season 15.
The Nov. 21 episode also saw the introduction of Karev’s replacement as Grey Sloan’s head of pediatric surgery, Dr. Cormac Hayes (Richard Flood). Karev had been fired on the show at the end of Season 15, then moved on to become chief of surgery at struggling competitor Pacific Northwest General Hospital.
The “Grey’s Anatomy” set has been filled with intrigue and rumors over the years, and Chambers’ abrupt exit calls to mind a few others from the past, specifically the dramatic departures of Isaiah Washington, Heigl and Patrick “McDreamy” Dempsey.
Reps for ABC did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.