Why Did Justin Chambers Leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’? What To Know – Hollywood Life

Why Did Justin Chambers Leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’? What We Know About His Sudden Exit

The abrupt exit of Justin Chambers shocked 'Grey's Anatomy' fans to their core. What was the reason behind his out-of-nowhere departure? Here's a full breakdown of what we know.

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  • Justin Chambers played Alex Karev on Grey’s Anatomy.
  • Justin left the series during season 16.
  • Justin has not returned to Grey’s Anatomy since his departure.

Alex Karev was the last remaining original intern other than Meredith Grey. Over the course of 16 seasons, Alex and Meredith endured so much together. Their friendship became a central part of the series, which premiered on ABC in 2005. However, in season 16, everything changed. Alex suddenly left Grey Sloan in the middle of the season.

Justin Chambers
Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers, and Sarah Drew on ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ (Abc-Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Justin Chambers’ exit from Grey’s Anatomy took everyone by surprise. It came out of nowhere. HollywoodLife is doing a deep dive into his departure and what Justin is up to these days.

Why Did Justin Chambers Leave Grey’s Anatomy?

Justin, now 53, announced he was leaving Grey’s Anatomy in the middle of the show’s 16th season. He simply wanted to start a new chapter outside of Grey’s Anatomy. The actor was far from the first notable name to leave the series. Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, T.R. Knight, had previously left 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,” Justin said in a statement to Deadline in January 2020. “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.”

Justin Chambers
Justin Chambers had been an original cast member since 2005. (Abc-Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock)

He added, “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.”

Months later in April 2020, showrunner Krista Vernoff was asked about the reasoning behind Justin’s exit from the series. “I decline comment,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. When asked about how much notice she received about his exit, Krista replied, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

In Lynette Rice’s 2022 book How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s AnatomyJustin gave a rare interview about his time on the show. “You’re in a bubble [on the show]. You wear scrubs every day, you see pretty much the same people every day, in the same four walls, the same studios, you drive the same route to work. For me it [was] sort of a factory job for acting,” he said. “You just clock in, clock out. Yeah, I guess it is sentimental, but it’s sort of like, ‘Wow, I just can’t believe how fast it’s gone.'”

What Happened To Alex Karev?

Justin’s last onscreen appearance was in the 350th episode of Grey’s Anatomy, which aired in November 2019. However, that wasn’t Alex Karev’s “last” episode.

Justin provided the voiceover for the 16th episode of season 16 titled “Leave a Light On.” The goodbye episode explained Alex’s exit, which had been shrouded in mystery. Alex ended up reuniting with his ex-wife, Izzie Stevens, in Kansas after calling her to help save Meredith’s career. They rekindled their relationship — despite Alex still being married to Jo — after Alex discovered that Izzie had given birth to their twins, Eli and Alexis. Izzie had used the embryos she and Alex had frozen when she was undergoing chemo.

Alex wrote a letter to the people who meant the most to him at Grey Sloan: Meredith, Jo, Bailey, and Richard. In Jo’s letter, Alex confessed that he was still in love with Izzie. He also wrote that he hoped Jo would understand why he needed to stay in Kansas. “I need to give these kids the family you and I never had,” he said. Alex brutally included signed divorce papers in his letter to Jo and his ownership shares in Grey Sloan.

Following Alex’s goodbye, Krista released a statement: “It is nearly impossible to say goodbye to Alex Karev. That is as true for me and for all of the writers at Grey’s Anatomy as it is for the fans. We have loved writing Alex. And we have loved watching Justin Chambers’ nuanced portrayal of him. For 16 seasons, 16 years, we have grown up alongside Alex Karev. We have been frustrated by his limitations and we have been inspired by his growth and we have come to love him deeply and to think of him as one of our very best friends. We will miss him terribly. And we will always be grateful for his impact, on our show, on our hearts, on our fans, on the world.”

Will Justin Chambers Ever Return To Grey’s Anatomy?

As of right now, we just don’t know if Justin Chambers will ever come back to Grey’s Anatomy. We never thought we’d see the day when Patrick Dempsey’s Derek Shepherd, T.R. Knight’s George O’Malley, Eric Dane’s Mark Sloan, and Chyler Leigh’s Lexie Grey would appear on Grey’s Anatomy again, but they all returned for the beach episodes in season 17.

Justin Chambers
Ellen Pompeo, Jesse Williams, and Justin Chambers on ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ (Abc-Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Krista was asked about the possibility of Justin or Katherine Heigl coming back to Grey’s Anatomy in the future at the end of season 16. “When I left the show in season 7, people asked me if there was any chance of me ever coming back, and I was smart enough to say, ‘Never say never.’ Here I am, so who knows?” she told Deadline.

Grey’s Anatomy will return for a milestone season 20. However, due to the ongoing writers’ and SAG-AFTRA strikes, Grey’s Anatomy likely won’t premiere until 2024.

What Is Justin Chambers Doing Now?

Justin Chambers
Justin Chambers in 2019. (Jason Merritt/Radarpics/Shutterstock)

Justin’s first post-Grey’s Anatomy gig was playing Marlon Brando in the Paramount+ series The Offer about the making of The Godfather. The actor appeared in 4 episodes. He doesn’t have any upcoming projects listed on his IMDb as of August 2023.

Even though he left Grey’s Anatomy behind, he’s still a part of the family. In June 2021, Ellen Pompeo posted videos on her Instagram Story featuring Justin and Eric Dane as they had dinner together.

In January 2023, Justin posed in front of a Patrick Dempsey ad and wrote on Instagram, “McFramed. Coming soon.” He gave Grey’s Anatomy a sweet shoutout by posting a photo of his coffee cup with a sleeve featuring Meredith, Bailey, and Richard. “A fresh cup of Greys,” he captioned the Instagram post.