‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Showrunner Krista Vernoff Says Alex Karev’s Send-Off Was ‘Impossible’ In Emotional Statement

ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” stars Justin Chambers as Alex Karev.
Mike Rosenthal / ABC

Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff says she had a difficult time saying goodbye to one of the show’s longest-running characters, Alex Karev.

Viewers of the ABC series watched as Grey’s Anatomy said its final goodbye to Karev, who has been played by Justin Chambers since the series premiered in 2005. Chambers announced a few months ago that he was leaving the show to focus on other projects. According to People, Vernoff spoke of the “impact” the character of Alex Karev made on the series. She explained that the loss was felt by the writers of the show along with its longtime fans.

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

Vernoff then continued in her statement how fans of the show have grown up with Chambers’ character through almost two decades. In Alex’s farewell episode, the show highlighted some of his most memorable moments on the series. The flashbacks showed where Alex started from and how much his character had developed through the years.

“For 16 seasons, 16 years, we have grown up alongside Alex Karev,” Vernoff continued. “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.”

After several weeks of wondering how the show would say goodbye to Karev, fans finally received their closure on Thursday night. He wrote four different letters, one each to his wife Jo (Camilla Luddington), his best friend Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), and his former bosses Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.). He explained that, although he initially went to Iowa to take care of his mother, he reconnected with his ex-wife, Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl). Fans of the series will know that Izzie was written off the show following Heigl’s real-life exit. Karev ultimately decided to stay in Kansas with Izzie and the 5-year-old twins that she was raising without his knowledge.

The farewell episode to Alex Karev upset numerous Grey’s Anatomy fans. Many felt the abrupt ending was hurtful to the character’s development over the span of 16 seasons. Grey’s Anatomy’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, has yet to discuss the character’s exit publicly.