The Grey's Anatomy team is honoring Justin Chambers following his farewell episode Thursday night, titled "Leave a Light On." In the episode, the series said goodbye to Dr. Alex Karev, the character Chambers played for more than 15 seasons. After tiptoeing around his exit — which fans knew about months ago — the show finally revealed the truth about what happened to the beloved doctor.
Alex wrote personal letters to Meredith (his "person"); his wife, Jo; Webber; and Bailey, explaining why he wasn't coming back to Seattle. In the letters, Alex revealed he was happily together with Izzie Stevens — a character fans haven't heard from in over a decade — and that they were happily raising their two 5-year-old children — also a surprise to fans — on a farm in Kansas with horses.
Chambers did not return to film new footage for his shocking goodbye, but instead provided voiceovers as he read off Alex's letters to the four most important people at Grey Sloan. His letter to Meredith revealed that he would not be returning to Seattle, writing that "the one perfect thing isn't in Seattle, not anymore."
Following the jaw-dropping episode, Grey's showrunner and executive producer Krista Vernoff told Entertainment Tonight that "It is nearly impossible to say goodbye to Alex Karev. That is as true for me and for all of the writers at Grey's Anatomy as it is for the fans. We have loved writing Alex. And we have loved watching Justin Chambers' nuanced portrayal of him."
"For 16 seasons, 16 years, we have grown up alongside Alex Karev. We have been frustrated by his limitations and we have been inspired by his growth and we have come to love him deeply and to think of him as one of our very best friends," Vernoff continued. "We will miss him terribly. And we will always be grateful for his impact, on our show, on our hearts, on our fans, on the world."
Chambers announced in January that he was leaving Grey's Anatomy after more than 15 seasons, saying he wanted to "diversify [his] acting roles." The series' 350th episode in November was Chambers' last appearance on the show.
He told ET 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. For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversity 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."
"Truer words have never been spoken," Pompeo wrote alongside a broken hearted emoji.