Just about a month ago, Justin Chambers shocked television fans.
The actor announced that he wasn't just leaving Grey's Anatomy after having starred on the ABC drama since its very first episode...
... he announced that he had already left!
Indeed, when Chambers confirmed his departure from Grey's Anatomy last month, he also confirmed that he had already filmed his final installment of the series.
In response, fans of this beloved drama were left with a couple obvious question:
Where does that leave Alex Karev? Is the show really gonna just let one of its main characters -- for well over a decade -- slink away without having a proper sendoff?
Speaking to Variety this week, showrunner Krista Vernoff finally had an answer for those wondering.
The executive producer described the process of Chambers leaving in an interview with this outlet as “a very careful threading of a needle, where we are giving a little bit of information and pain to Jo.”
She then added that the writing staff is focused on providing closure for long-time fans.
"We’re, episode by episode, illuminating the story of where Alex is. And it takes us quite a few more episodes to get there and to give the audience clarity," explained Vernoff.
Vernoff noted that given Jo’s (Camilla Luddington) previous trajectory, the writers handled Alex’s exit with caution where her character was concerned.
“Jo went through so much pain and so much grief just last season that I wanted to be careful,” she saidm continuing as follows:
“And so it’s a bit of a mystery [what’s going on with Alex], so that we don’t watch Jo in the same place that we watched her last season. We did it as carefully as we could.
"But it takes a while to get there.”
Karev was last seen in a November episode, during which he left town to take care of his ailing mother.
Jo hinted at his permanent departure in the Thursday, February 13, episode, telling Amelia that Alex had stopped returning her phone calls.
Still... that's a pretty sad way for such a widly important character to say farwell, you know?
The 49-year old actor announced in January that he was leaving Grey’s Anatomy after 16 seasons as a series regular.
“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,” he said in a statement at the time.
“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.”