How Did Karev Leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?

Justin Chambers, Alex Karev

ABC ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" stars Justin Chambers as Alex Karev.

Justin Chambers left Grey’s Anatomyand fans were speculating for months about how they would end up writing him off the show. (SPOILER ALERT) It turns out that Dr. Alex Karev left his friends and his wife for none other than Izzie Stevens and their twin children.

Long-time viewers will remember that Karev and Izzie dated back in the first few seasons of the show, and she’d frozen their embryos after learning she had cancer and she may not be able to have children if they didn’t do so. Now, it turns out that Izzie had twins from those embryos and Karev left his life at Grey Sloane to go be with them.

Justin Chambers, who portrayed Alex Karev, announced he was leaving Grey’s Anatomy in 2019. His final episode had already aired by the time fans learned he was leaving the show. He did not appear in his goodbye episode, titled “Leave a Light On.” The episode used flashbacks to previous episodes to illustrate Karev’s journey.


Karev Wrote Letters to People He Left Behind

When he originally left, Alex told his wife, Jo, that his mom needed him in Iowa. She later found out that he wasn’t there and he had never actually made it that far. Now, Meredith Grey, Jo, Miranda Bailey and Richard Weber received letters from Alex explaining the situation and letting them know he wouldn’t be returning to Grey Sloane.

In his letter to Meredith, he told her that, though he’d been her person and she was his best friend, he couldn’t leave his kids the way he had been left by his parents. He said he loved his children with every fiber of his being and hoped Meredith wouldn’t come to the farm he and Izzie lived on in Kansas.

Karev used his letter to Jo to tell her he loved her, but that he also loved Izzie and wouldn’t be coming home. He took care of everything and said he couldn’t come home because he was scared if he saw her face again he wouldn’t be able to leave.

“I went to a lawyer, I signed divorce papers. I left everything to you, it’s yours,” Alex wrote in his letter.

In the letter to Bailey, Alex thanked her for everything but said he was leaving. He said he helped her grow up and took a literal bullet out of his stomach. The bullet came from the time a shooter came into Grey Sloane and shot some of the doctors.

The last letter was for Richard, and we didn’t get to hear exactly what it said. Instead, Richard explained how he felt about the explanation he got from his student and expressed his disappointment in the fact that he didn’t get to say goodbye.

At least we got some closure about Izzie in the end; she’s living as an oncologist in Kansas, and Alex is with her and their two kids. He’s got a chance at being the chief of pediatric surgery at the hospital there.


Fans Were Confused and Frustrated

Even before the episode aired, fans were taking to Twitter to express their confusion and, in some ways, their outrage about the way Alex left the show. They cited his sixteen years of character development and the fact that Izzie left the show 10 seasons ago. Many people thought it was unrealistic that he would just leave everything he built to go back to someone he didn’t even know anymore.

Some viewers were calling it the worst character regression they’ve ever seen, and they would have liked it better if Alex died. Most expressed sympathy for Jo’s character, especially after everything she’s been through.

Either way, the show said goodbye to Karev after a long 16 seasons. Now Meredith is the only original intern left on Grey’s Anatomy. 

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