Grey's Anatomy fans were shocked by the news that Justin Chambers had left the show after 15 years and 16 seasons. No details have been released about why Chambers has left the series outside of an official statement by the actor shared with Deadline.
"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 the statement. "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."
"As I move on from Grey's Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda Rimes, 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," he continued.
*needle-scratch* WAIT WHAT pic.twitter.com/oNNQjuW9Wb— alanna bennett (@AlannaBennett) January 10, 2020
But many fans have already started to speculate that behind-the-scenes issues led to the surprising exit. A major clue leading them to this conclusion is the fact that Chambers' final episode already aired, leaving his story to end on a cliffhanger.
"His character ended on a CLIFFHANGER," Roswell writer Alanna Bennett wrote on Twitter, adding more thoughts in later tweets. "This stinks of behind the scenes shit and has me NERVOUS (also devastated on a character level.)"
After fans caught on to this realization, they didn't take long to share their own shocking reactions.
"WAIT NO GOODBYE!!!" one fan wrote. "I can't even handle that he's leaving but without even a wrap up storyline what???"
Irish goodbyes are the best goodbyes.— Lee Shorten (@lcshorten) January 10, 2020
"Why is this set still messy as hell after 15 years of this nonsense," another added.
"I can't deal with this news right now. WHY??? I need my tv family!!!" a third wrote.
Some also couldn't help but bring up the show's past exits and their feelings on the quality heading into the second half of the 16th season.
"I love Justin Chambers. But Grey's, unfortunately, is just a shadow of its former self. They missed their chance going out on top, but they can go out toward the bottom/middle. The early days were fire!" one fan said about the show.
"I don't even watch Grey's anymore and I find this upsetting. So it's literally just Meredith left of the OG intern crew?" another asked.
"It reminds me of how Katherine Heigl asked to be released early.... and never came back...." a third added, pointing to Katherine Heigl's high-profile exit in season 6 and her lack of return thus far.
As has been pointed out, we may never know exactly why Chambers left the series. It is easy to speculate about trouble but some fans feel he just might've been done with the show.
The great joy of Greys is being able to watch characters grow and change for OVER FIFTEEN YEARS. It’s a unique thing. The great curse of Greys is it’ll outlive us all and likes to routinely throw itself into nihilism via cast turnover.— alanna bennett (@AlannaBennett) January 10, 2020
Grey's Anatomy season 16 is scheduled to return with new episodes on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.