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And fans rioted
[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Thursday's episode of Grey's Anatomy. Read at your own risk]
Thursday's episode of Grey's Anatomy was one that fans have been dreading since Justin Chambers announced his exit from the show in January, and viewers discovered he had filmed his final episode months before. The show teased a "Goodbye to Alex Karev" after last week's episode, using all old footage to tease the end of the character's storyline.
However, Chambers did not show up to complete the arc. The last fans heard, Karev lied about going to Iowa to take care of his mom and instead left Jo (Camilla Luddington) with no explanation for his disappearance. Thursday's episode was to offer his wife -- and the fans bewildered by the exit -- some closure.
Alex Karev said goodbye in a series of three letters -- one to Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), one to Jo, and one to Bailey (Chandra Wilson) -- that revealed he bailed on Seattle to move to a farm in Kansas to be with Izzie (Katherine Heigl) and their twin children. Yes, Izzie used hers and Alex's frozen embryos to have two children, which Alex found out about when he reached out to ask Izzie for testimony for Meredith's trial. Apparently, it was the family that Alex never knew he needed, and he left everyone behind to go have it. The reasoning he gave for his hasty exit was the idea of facing them was just too hard, and he wouldn't have had the strength to leave again if he came back to tell everyone in person.
It was a devastating revelation in many ways.
"It is nearly impossible to say goodbye to Alex Karev. That is as true for me and for all of the writers at Grey's Anatomy as it is for the fans," showrunner Krista Vernoff said in a statement to TV Guide about the episode. "We have loved writing Alex. And we have loved watching Justin Chambers' nuanced portrayal of him. 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."
Unsurprisingly, fans on Twitter basically lost their minds as the revelations came out.
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC.