The night … was March 27, 2005. Television titan Shonda Rhimes knew what she had just created — but audiences still had no idea.
The Grey’s Anatomy pilot introduced several characters, including the show’s protagonist, legacy surgical resident Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo). Spunky, undoubtedly intelligent and full of heart, the show wouldn’t survive without its titular character — but the ensemble is what keeps viewers tuning in 15 years later.
That’s why it hits fans hard every time a character gets the boot. Whether they’re killed off (as many Grey’s characters have been) or simply written out of the show, over a dozen of Seattle Grace’s/Seattle Grace Mercy West’s/Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital’s finest have left.
Most recently, Justin Chambers, who played bad-boy resident turned compassionate pediatric surgeon turned chief of surgery Alex Karev, announced his departure after 16 seasons.
“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,” the 49-year-old actor said in a statement to Us Weekly. “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.”
Chambers thanked ABC, Rhimes and the original cast of Grey’s “for the extraordinary ride.” What’s even more shocking, though, is that Karev doesn’t get a proper goodbye.
According to TVLine, the actor’s final episode of the ABC series aired two months before he confirmed he was leaving the show. Viewers may recall that Alex went to visit his ill mother during the November 14 episode of the series. Chambers did not appear in the midseason finale on November 21.
Here’s to hoping he’ll be on TV again soon, like many of the actors who exited Grey’s before him.
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Keep scrolling to see what T.R. Knight (George O’Malley), Patrick Dempsey (Derek Shepherd) and others have been up to since leaving the ABC hit.