'Grey's Anatomy' Fans Were Still Flocking to Justin Chambers' Throwback Cast Photo Prior to Exit

After actor Justin Chambers left fans heartbroken on Friday following an announcement detailing his departure from ABC's groundbreaking and beloved medical drama, Grey's Anatomy, the 49-year-old's Instagram photo from nearly a year ago still had fans excited about his role portraying Dr. Alex Karev and everything entailing the character's arc in the Shondaland series.

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In the stills shared to his Instagram last February, Chambers acknowledged his 15 years on the award-winning series and looked forward to "making television history" with the show's monumental episode status.

"Tonight, [Grey's Anatomy] becomes the longest running medical drama of all time," Chambers wrote. "We appreciate all of our viewers, new and old, that have kept us on all of these years. Thank you to [Shonda Rhimes] for being a trailblazer, to [ABC Network] for giving us a home, and to all of the incredible castmates, crew members and writers throughout the years. It takes a village."

Fans took to the comments section even weeks and months later, congratulating him on the success of the series with many excited about what's ahead in Season 16, currently airing on ABC.

"My favorite show ever! I started watching at the beginning of my undergraduate degree, now I am finishing up med school and getting ready to apply residency in September," one fan wrote.

"Insane! I've been watching since the start!" added another. "Absolutely love the journey Alex has been on. Congrats!"

"I just finished catching up on the show and this just makes me want to binge watch season one on Netflix again!" added another.

"Please never stop," added another. "The OG team is everything!!! [crying emojis]."

"If they ever kill off Alex, I'll riot and stop watching!" threatened another fan, with the sad emoji, followed by a laughing one.

Grey's Anatomy, now in its 16th season will be bidding farewell to Chambers as he issued a statement Friday afternoon, announcing his exit from Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital — though it is unclear when his final episode will air or if he will appear in any further episodes, as he had been absent from the fall finale in November.

"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. "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 Jr., and the rest of the amazing cast and crew, both past and present, and, of course, the fans for an extraordinary ride."

As fans will recall, Chambers' character, Alex had a rough time after he was fired for his involvement in Meredith Grey's (Pompeo) insurance fraud scandal, which has played out throughout this past season. Alex 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.

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Season 16 is scheduled to return with new episodes on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

Photo credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images