Justin Chambers, one of the last remaining stars from the first season of Grey's Anatomy to still be on the show at the start of Season 16, is leaving the series. His decision appears to be abrupt, as his final episode as Dr. Alex Karev has already aired. Chambers' final episode was the Nov. 14 episode, in which he helped Ellen Pompeo's Meredith Grey keep her job.
Fans will not get to see Alex get an emotional on-screen goodbye. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter Friday that the Nov. 14, 2019 episode is Chambers' last episode.
Pompeo, James Pickens Jr., who plays Richard Webber, and Chandra Wilson, who stars as Miranda Bailey, are now the only remaining actors who appeared in the Grey's Anatomy pilot still on the show.
"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 a statement to THR. "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 Rhimes, 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," the actor continued.
Chambers played a big part in Grey's Season 16, as the series featured several major doctors leave Grey Sloan to join the Pacific Northwest hospital. Alex was named the chief of staff at the new hospital. Several Grey Sloan doctors were fired in an insurance fraud scheme that started when Meredith tried to help a family in need.
Grey's Anatomy has continued despite frequent cast shuffles. Sandra Oh made it through 10 seasons before leaving Christina Yang behind, while Katherine Heigl's Izzie Stevens was on for the first six seasons. Patrick Dempsey's Derek Shepherd was a major part of the show through Season 10 and T.R. Knight's George O'Malley left after five seasons.
Aside from Pompeo, Pickens and Wilson, the remaining main cast members are Kevin McKidd, Kim Raver, Jesse Williams, Camilla Luddington, Caterine Scorsone, Kelly McCreary, Giacomo Gianniotti, Jake Borelli, Greg Germann and Chris Carmack.
The series recently passed ER as the longest-running medical drama in primetime television history. It is still the top-rated ABC scripted drama and inspired two spin-offs, Private Practice and Station 19.
The next new episode of Grey's Anatomy, "Help Me Through The Night," airs on ABC Thursday, Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. ET.
Photo credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal