Grey's Anatomy is preparing to officially say goodbye to Dr. Alex Karev following actor Justin Chambers' exit from the series, and Thursday night's newest episode provided the best clue yet as to how his character will be written off the ABC medical drama. Given that Chambers had been a staple on the series for the last 15 years, the question of how he will be written off has been lingering on fans' minds for weeks.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for Grey's Anatomy Season 16, Episode 13, "Save the Last Dance for Me."
After flying to Iowa to visit his sick mother before the Season 16 midseason premiere, Chambers' Alex has only appeared at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital and in the other characters' lives via text and phone conversation. On Thursday's episode, however, it was hinted that something much larger is going on.
"Are you going through something?" Amelia Shephard (Caterina Scorsone) asked Jo Wilson following a bit of a tense exchange, leading Jo to drop a major bombshell, according to Entertainment Tonight.
"Alex hasn't been returning my calls," she admitted. "He says that he's going through something and he needs time, and if I didn't know better, I would think he was getting revenge for when I needed time. But I know he would never do that, so..."
To make matters worse, the episode ended with Jo returning to an empty apartment, making Alex's absence that much more present.
The current setup for Alex'' departure isn't necessarily going over well with longtime fans of Grey's, some questioning the legitimacy of Alex choosing to ghost those closest to him.
"Y'all expect us to believe that Alex THEE Karev would leave Jo the same way Izzy left him," asked one fan on Twitter. "After the heartbreak HE endured after that divorce?!? NOPE."
"Alex would never ghost anyone," added another. "He hunted down Meredith when she disappeared after Derek died and he called Izzy constantly when she flaked after almost killing that kidney patient. Not buying it. Try again."
"I didn't spend 16 years of my life to watch Alex Karev go from a complete a–hole to an amazing guy people could trust and count on and have literally the greatest development, just for them to do him like this," tweeted a third.
Chambers, in a statement released just ahead of the midseason premiere in January, announced that he would be leaving the series after 15 years, writing that he has "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."
New episodes of Grey's Anatomy air Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.