Something feels amiss on Grey's Anatomy — not only did the show let fans know that one of the last remaining original cast members Grey's Anatomy star Justin Chambers aka Alex Karev was leaving with a very vague announcement, but it turns out that the series barely (and I mean barely) even mentioned it in the Grey's Anatomy Season 16 winter premiere. This isn't some random intern — Alex Karev is a major character, here, people.
Deadline announced in January 2020 that Chambers already left Grey's, without fans even knowing. “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. “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.” He made sure to thank ABC, Ellen Pompeo (who lamented the show's loss on Twitter), and the rest of the cast, which was nice, but he didn't go into any further detail on the why and when and how and if the show would wrap up his character.
Karev's final appearance actually already happened, way back in Fall 2019, on the Nov. 14 episode of Grey's Anatomy. In the mid-season finale for Season 16, Alex was merely mentioned: He had headed to Iowa to help out his mother. And on the winter premiere, we weren't given any further information. Alex is still "in Iowa." He was a thing for like, one minute in Jo's (Camilla Luddington) storyline about her stealing that baby, and that was that. The focus went back to Jo's baby fever. For all we know, Karev will just be referenced as visiting his mom for eternity.
All that being said, it's hard to avoid asking the question: Alex Karev's final episode already aired, without a send-off like every other major Grey's character has received — what gives?
The only people who actually know what happened behind the scenes on Grey's Anatomy are Chambers, his representation, and the producers of the show, but there has to be a reason for Chambers' belated statement and hasty exit. A show that has run as long as Grey's Anatomy has naturally seen lots of actors depart, some because it was just time, and some for more touchy reasons like feuds with coworkers or even, reportedly, disagreements with the showrunner. While we don't know what happened, it's pretty crushing for fans that Chambers left the show so hastily that it simply ended Karev's story where it was.
It's possible that the Grey's team didn't have enough time to plan for the departure or that after so many character endings, the writers wanted to shake this one up a bit. And considering Karev's is married to Jo, who is still very much a part of the show, there's still lots of room to get his character's actual send-off before Season 16 is over. There's so much happening with Jo and Meredith (Pompeo) right now that it's hard to imagine Karev wouldn't participate in their lives in some capacity.