The departure of Justin Chambers is especially important because Justin Chambers, together with Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr., has been around since the beginning of the medical drama in Seattle. Alex was known as a kind of “bad guy” on the show who was curt and abrasive with the other characters, including medical staff and patients. Over time, however, his attitude was softened.
“There is no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that has determined so much of my life in the past 15 years,” said Justin Chambers in a statement to Deadline. “For some time now, however, I’ve been hoping to diversify my acting roles and career opportunities. And now that I’m 50 years old and blessed with my remarkable, supportive wife and five wonderful children, it’s that time.
Grey’s Anatomy has become notorious for its revolving door of cast changes. Departures include Patrick Dempsey, Katherine Heigl, Chyler Leigh, Sandra Oh, Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw. In addition, some of these departures were controversial. So far this doesn’t seem to apply to Justin Chambers, but Alex hasn’t actually been written out.
Grey’s Anatomy: What are fans saying?
The main reason the fans seem to be upset is that they didn’t close the case with Alex. Maybe the fans have gotten used to premature deaths, like those of Dempsey and Leigh, so they want something more definite. A subject starter on Reddit said:
“I was fully prepared to cry my eyes out tonight, to have an Alex dead, even if it sounds so awful and unimaginable. But really, after tonight’s episode if they just leave it at “Alex is in iowa” I won’t be able to go. Even though I clearly don’t want him to leave the show or his character to die, they can’t try to turn it on us like that.
Another fan responded: “I’m sure we will hear more. They film episodes far ahead. Justin didn’t announce that he was leaving until they filmed episode 15, so they need time to register it. I think we’ll know more at the end of the season.
But another fan said, “No, we’re not getting anything. It’s izzie 2.0,” referring to the departure of Katherine Heigl, who was one of the less pleasant.
Grey’s Anatomy: Ellen Pompeo knows a thing or two about departures
As the main character of the show, Ellen Pompeo has seen more people come and go than almost anyone else. Sometimes the fans even focus on Pompeo, because she is seen as untouchable. When Drew and Capshaw left at the same time, the fans went after Pompeo because they assumed that their departure was made to meet Pompeo’s high salary. She insisted that this wasn’t the case.
When Vanity Fair tweeted out, “#GreysAnatomy is about to feel one of the biggest losses yet,” Ellen Pompeo replied “Truer words have never been spoken. Ellen Pompeo must feel this loss acutely because she and Chambers have been there the whole trip.
Grey’s Anatomy showrunners have long maintained that the show will end when Ellen Pompeo calls out that it’s time to go. That won’t be this season as Grey’s will be extended to season 17 next year, which means Grey’s Anatomy will at least be on TV for over 16 years.