'Grey's Anatomy' Boss Reveals When Fans Will Get 'Clarity' on Justin Chambers' Departure

Fans are still waiting to learn of Dr. Alex Karev's fate on Grey's Anatomy after Justin Chambers announced that he would be leaving the series after 15 seasons, and showrunner Krista Vernoff is promising answers. Following last Thursday's episode of the ABC medical drama, which gave fans the biggest clue yet as to how Karev will be written out of the show, Vernoff talked to Variety, promising that fans will receive "clarity," though they will have to wait a little bit longer.

"It was a very careful threading of a needle, where we are giving a little bit of information and pain to Jo," Vernoff explained. "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."

Vernoff added that the process of sending Karev off was not easy, as they wanted to tread carefully with Jo’s emotional state following the previous turmoil she had been through.

"Jo went through so much pain and so much grief just last season that I wanted to be careful," Vernoff said. "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."

Chambers had last appeared on the series during a November 2019 episode when Karev traveled to Iowa to care for his ailing mother. His absence was again briefly addressed in the Season 16 midseason premiere, when Jo confirmed that he was still in Iowa. During last Thursday’s episode, however, it was revealed that there may be more to his absence, with Jo telling Amelia Shephard that Karev was ignoring her calls and texts.

"Alex hasn't been returning my calls," she said in the episode. "He says that he's going through something and he needs time, and if I didn't know better, I would think he was getting revenge for when I needed time. But I know he would never do that, so..."

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The setup did not go over well with fans, though it remains unclear how the storyline will play out. For his part, Chambers is not set to appear in any further episodes, it having been revealed shortly after his December announcement that he was leaving the series that his final episode had already aired.

New episodes of Grey's Anatomy air Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.