'Grey's Anatomy' Fans Are Divided Over Ending for Justin Chambers' Dr. Alex Karev's Exit From Show

Thursday night, Grey's Anatomy gave a formal farewell to Justin Chambers' Dr. Alex Karev. After being a part of the cast since the pilot episode in 2005, the show announced his departure in January. The character last appeared in Season 16's "My Shot" back in November, and was allegedly spending time in Iowa with his mother.

In "Leave the Light On," the character's whereabouts were finally revealed: he reconnected with his ex, Izzie (Katherine Heigl), who was living on a farm in Kansas after giving birth to their twins. When Karev pays her a visit, he decides to stay -- and leave his wife, Jo (Camilla Luddington), as a result. Chambers didn't himself appear but did provide voiceover for his farewell letter.

While the series had been dropping subtle clues about how Karvel would take his bow, fans were already pretty unhappy with the implication. Needless to say, the reactions remained sharply divided.

"This is worse than Derek Shepherd being killed off," wrote one viewer. "This is abandonment of a character that has been through hell and back and who GREW from it. A character that is now inflicting intentional pain on his fragile wife. Alex Karev would NEVER have done this. Never."

"Alex Karev did not go through 16 seasons of the best character development on Grey's Anatomy to end his story with him abandoning his wife and Meredith for Izzie f-ing Steven," added another.

Others, however, were much more forgiving of Karev's exit.

"Alex grew up basically without any parents and now he's giving his kids the life that they deserve, the life he needed when he was kid," countered one fan. "I don't wanna hear one bad word."

After word of Karve's inevitable departure started to circulate, Chambers told Deadline in January that "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."

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"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."

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.