And it's with a heavy heart we have to say goodbye to Alex Karev.
Grey's Fanatics remain in shock over the stunning news of Justin Chambers' departure from the long-running medical drama after 15 seasons.
He was one of four original cast members left on the series, and the only remaining person from Meredith's intern year.
The news comes to a shock to everyone, but in addition to his departure, Deadline confirmed that the last installment he appeared, Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 8, was and is his appearance on the series for the foreseeable future.
We're left in the dark about how the series will write him out of the series and how his storylines will be wrapped up.
Join TV Fanatics Paul Dailly, Meaghan Frey, and Jasmine Blu, and Grey's Fanatic Berea Orange as we discuss this shocker!
Justin Chambers has abruptly exited the series. React!
Paul: I am stunned! A part of me thought Justin would be there until the end. He's one of my favorite characters, and the show will not be the same without him.
Meaghan: I am devastated by this. Like Paul, I thought Alex was part of Grey's Anatomy's end game. I can't even imagine what the show will be like without him.
Berea: Logging into twitter this afternoon and seeing this news has absolutely shocked me. I cannot believe he’s gone and so abruptly! I felt his last days were upon us, though.
He has not had many stories in the past couple of seasons outside of Jolex until Pac North.
In hindsight, George, Lexie, and Derek didn’t have that much screen time in their final seasons, either. I suppose we should’ve seen this coming when a new Peds doctor came to Grey-Sloan.
I am just going to miss Alex so much, especially his friendships with Meredith and Maggie (the latter we were reminded of when she lost Sebi in Pac North).
Jasmine: I'm speechless. I also envisioned he would be on the series until its conclusion. He's every bit as significant to the show as Meredith herself.
But in hindsight, I'm not so much surprised he's leaving -- he hasn't had much presence or significant storylines in a while -- but that this bombshell is happening in the middle of the season like this! I at least would've expected it at the end of the season.
It has been confirmed that his last episode has aired already (the 350th episode). What are your thoughts about this?
Paul: I'm annoyed. After 15 years, you would think there would be a fulfilling arc to say goodbye to Alex Karev. It makes me think something sour is going on behind the scenes.
Meaghan: This is the worst possible way they could have ended Alex's character. Alex has been there since day one and deserved a proper goodbye. The fans deserve it too.
I completely agree with Paul that there seems to be something going on behind the scenes because no one has exited this suddenly under good terms.
If that is, in fact, the case I'm thoroughly disappointed in Shonda and co. We as the fans have suffered so many times because of behind the scenes drama and I don't foresee this sitting well with fans.
Berea: This is completely ridiculous and insulting to Alex’s character. Outside of Meredith, he is the last of the original interns. Since Cristina left, he’s been Meredith’s person.
You would think someone as important to the show as he is would have a big sendoff. When I think back to every other major character’s exit, they all had somewhat satisfying endings that gave us closure.
Since they’ll have to write him off without him there anymore, I do not see us getting that closure.
I respect Justin doing what is best for him and his family, but I am surprised it is happening so suddenly. Since he (or the network?) opted out of doing any more episodes to give Alex the sendoff he deserves, it leads me to believe there had to be more going on behind the scenes.
Jasmine: Pardon my language, but WHAT THE ACTUAL F*CK?! I agree with the others, something doesn't add up.
It has to be some behind the scenes issues happening to explain why an actor who has been there since the very first installment -- an original character and intern, someone as integral to the series as Meredith Grey herself, isn't given a proper sendoff.
We've had some controversial and polarizing exits over the years, but this takes the cake. It's beyond disrespectful to his character and the fans. We're blindsided by this, and there is no real closure or a chance to say goodbye to a character we've been invested in for a decade and a half.
It's bad enough he's had some poor storylines and shoddy screentime that was a disservice to his character in recent years, but he at least deserved an incredible arc to send him off. He's a Grey's veteran!
How would you have given Alex/Justin a proper sendoff?
Paul: This is an unpopular one, but Alex is part of the fabric of the show. I couldn't imagine him leaving Jo, Meredith, and everyone else behind. The only logical exit in my eyes is to kill him off. But not a sensational death like someone blowing up the hospital. An illness that gets worse over time.
Meaghan: If the intention was to keep Jo on the show, then I am going to throw out an answer that will be extremely unpopular in the comments section.
If Jolex was going to be over anyway then I wish his ending could have involved Izzie. Izzie was such an essential part of his beginning on the show, so her being a part of his ending would have felt full circle.
Berea: I honestly always thought he would stay until the end. But for some drama, he could get schizophrenia and end up in a facility; it does run in his family.
He could also be killed off heroically (maybe helping a child in need).
For a little more bland ending, he and Jo could just end up moving across the country to a hospital where they both get good job offers.
Jasmine: I am wary of how the show will acknowledge his absence without a goodbye. It's reminding me of when Christopher Meloni left Law & Order SVU and Benson and Stabler never got a final freaking moment together.
I mean, what can they do? Make him stay with his mother taking care of her? How tragic that he ends up back where he started.
Make him abandon Jo after renewing their vows and saying he would stand by her side, mental illness and all? Are they going to make him leave a woman instead of being left by one? That would be a disservice to his character? Kill him off offscreen?
I do think a traditional, twisted, and devastating Grey's Anatomy way of sending him off would've been giving him schizophrenia. It would've had him move away for a bigger, better opportunity elsewhere. It would be too much like Cristina's exit, but at least it would be a happy ending.
Maybe he does Doctors Without Borders? It could explain Jo staying while he's gone.
I don't know what we're getting, but it won't be happy.
How do you feel about Alex's journey over the years?
Paul: It's been great. He's been a fun character to follow over the years. Moving him over to Pac North was a controversial decision, but it gave him some more time to shine.
Meaghan: Alex has had the best character arc on the show. Hands down. No one has grown more than him. He has come so far from the man who referred to Meredith as a nurse to insult her on their first shift.
Berea: Alex has easily had one of my favorite character developments on this show. He was a jerk in the early seasons, but his relationships with Izzie, Meredith, Cristina, and Jo have humanized him.
He grew up so much on the show, and I’ve loved seeing him grow into the Pediatric Attending turned Chief of Surgery.
Jasmine: Alex was a jerk in the early days, but he blossomed into this incredible doctor, a great friend, and a devoted spouse. He's had one of the best character arcs of the entire series. He made me proud of him and his growth.
What were your favorite Alex moments?
Paul: There are so many, but I'll go with Alex telling Meredith she could take her frustration out on him after a bad surgery. I'll miss the moments between these two the most.
Meaghan: I couldn't begin to choose. Alex has essentially been the heart of this show. He has brought us laughs, tears and made us want to tear him to pieces at times, but through it all, he has been a constant in a show famous for its revolving door of characters throughout the years.
Berea: My favorite Alex moments have definitely been his friendships with Meredith and Maggie. Meredith was the only one still talking to him after he cheated on Izzie, and their friendship has flourished since.
He was there for Maggie in the year after Derek died when Meredith was AWOL.
Alex is at his best when he’s being a supportive friend and I’ll always love those moments (most recent being him letting Maggie break down after Sebi’s death).
Jasmine: My favorite Alex moments always involve him being a good friend or a great doctor. He was always rough around the edges, but evil spawn was loyal and came through for his loved ones.
I loved when he found his calling in Pediatrics. His scenes with kids and teens are among my favorite because of how well he connected to them. I loved it when he lifted Izzie off of Denny's bed.
I loved it when he showed up by Meredith's bedside countless times, or how close he became with Meredith, Maggie, and Amelia when they all lived together. I could go on!
What will you miss most about his character?
Paul: Alex always brought some much-needed humor to dark situations, and there will be a hole in the show with him gone.
Meaghan: The way he brings out the best in everyone around him.
Berea: I will miss the dark humor and snarky remarks. With both him and Cristina being gone, I’ll need Amelia to fill that void for me.
Jasmine: I'll miss how much he cares about the people he loves. When he loves you, he loves you hard and his loyalty is out of this world. I'll also miss his dark humor and snark.
Do you have any final thoughts you'd love to add about this news, Alex Karev, and/or Justin Chambers?
Paul: If Chambers does continue to act, I want to see him in a different role, something away from a hospital!
Meaghan: A thank you to Justin for devoting so many years of his life to us and this show. Alex is a big part of what has made Grey's Anatomy the show it is today and it will never be the same again.
Berea: I’m very sad that my hopeful storyline of Izzie showing up with his nine-year-old child will never happen now, but I will just let that dream go I suppose. Justin has been a part of the fabric of this show and it makes me sad to see him go. I’ll look forward to seeing his new projects.
Jasmine: I have nothing but love and gratitude extended to Justin Chambers for bringing his everything to this role for 15 years. Regardless of how he left, I'm happy for him and support his decision, and I look forward to whatever he does next.
It's sad to see him go, but he's certainly touched lives and is a pop culture icon. Not everyone can say that.
Over to you, Grey's Fanatics!
How are you handling this news?!
Hit the comments below with your thoughts, reactions, fond Alex memories and more.
Grey's Anatomy returns January. 23 at 9/8c on ABC.
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Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.