One less doctor will be walking the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Original cast member Justin Chambers announced Friday that he is exiting Grey's Anatomy after 15 years. Chambers has appeared on the popular ABC medical drama, now in its 16th season, since its inception, portraying Dr. Alex Karev.
"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 announced his departure in a statement to Deadline. "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 added.
At this time, it is unclear when Chambers' final episode will air or if he will appear in any further episodes, as he had been absent from the fall finale in November. Season 16 is scheduled to return with new episodes on Thursday, Jan. 23.
As fans will recall, Chambers' character, Alex, went through a bit of a shakeup after he was fired for his involvement in Meredith Grey's (Ellen Pompeo) insurance fraud scandal, which has played out throughout the current season. He was later hired as Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Pacific Northwest General Hospital, a hospital in shambles in need of revitalizing, with Shameless star Richard Flood, as Dr. Comac Hayes, acting as his replacement at Grey Sloan.
Although Chambers’ cast members have not yet reacted to news of his upcoming departure, fans of the long running series are taking to social media in shock.
Grey's Anatomy Season 16 returns to ABC on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. ET.