Grey's Anatomy Showrunner Addresses Alex Karev's Final Episode

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Tears were shed and relationships were ruined forever on Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 16, appropriately titled "Leave the Light On."

Two months after Justin Chambers announced he had quit the ABC medical drama after 15 years in the role of Alex Karev, the series said one last goodbye to him. 

In a truly stunning twist, Alex sent letters to Jo, Meredith, Miranda, and Richard which detailed the fact that he skipped town and was not caring for his mother like he initially said. 

Alex and Izzie Smile - Grey's Anatomy

First, in his letter to Meredith, Alex thanked her for being his “person” and for all she’s done for him, adding the following details:

Mer, this is not the way I wanted to do this, but you know me. Any chance to take the easy way out. You know as well as I do, you’d yell or give me guilt or crap or whatever you do that seems to always set me straight.

You were always the one to set me straight. When that didn’t work you’d flop in my bed and say the one perfect thing that would make sense.

The thing is, I can’t come back. I can’t face you. I deserve the guilt and to be called an ass. I don’t want to be set straight.

Helllooo Alex Karev! - Grey's Anatomy Season 14 Episode 6

I don’t want you to say the right thing. Because the one perfect thing isn’t in Seattle. Not anymore. I swear it’s not about you or work or Jo, it’s about me. I left and I’m with Izzie.

Izzie, played by Katherine Heigl, was written off the show almost a decade ago after skipping town of her own accord. 

Bringing them back together to raise their twins also meant the end of Jolex as Alex revealed he was divorcing his lover, but he was leaving her everything, including the apartment, and his shares in the hospital. 

“You deserve more than a letter,” wrote Karev, adding:

This right here, this cowardness, it’s officially the worst thing I’ve ever done. It’s about me, it’s not about you.

A "Dear Jo" - Grey's Anatomy

You deserve so much better than this. I love you, Jo.

I love that you are brilliant and brave and no matter what you go through you never let it hold you back. It makes you stronger, kinder.

You made me kinder. You love me for exactly for who I was and I loved you. I love you. Maybe it’s not fair to say that but it’s true. But this is also true. I’m in love with Izzie.

I imagined this whole life for her where she was happy and had a bunch of kids. I never imagined me in that picture but suddenly I am … There was a part of me that always wondered, always wanted to know, always felt like we left thing unresolved … I reached out to her and we started talking and it scared the crap out of me.  

It was a controversial twist, for sure, and one that showrunner Krista Vernoff expected fans to have a lot of emotions about. 

Backing Mer- Tall  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 8

As soon as the episode was over, she took to Twitter with a statement. 

“It is nearly impossible to say goodbye to Alex Karev,” Vernoff wrote on Twitter.

“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.”

She continued: “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.”

Justin Chambers as Dr. Alex Karev

What are your thoughts on the way it played out?

Hit the comments below. 

Remember you can watch Grey's Anatomy online right here via TV Fanatic. 

Grey's Anatomy continues Thursdays on ABC. 

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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