Toward the end of a season of unexpected returns, Grey’s Anatomy is now dealing with a departure.
The show is going to look a whole lot less handsome moving forward.
Because Jesse Williams will not be returning as a full-time cast member.
"I will forever be grateful for the boundless opportunities provided me by Shonda, the network, studio, fellow cast mates, our incredible crew, Krista, Ellen and Debbie," Williams said in a statement after Thursday’s night episode aired.
He’s referring here to creator Shonda Rhimes, showrunner Krista Vernoff, and co-stars Ellen Pompeo and Debbie Allen.
Williams joined the ABC drama as Jackson Avery on Season 6.
He will appear on the May 20 finale — which may serve as the series finale — prior to leaving for goodd.
"As an actor, director and person, I have been obscenely lucky to learn so much from so many and I thank our beautiful fans, who breathe so much energy and appreciation into our shared worlds.
"The experience and endurance born of creating nearly 300 hours of leading global television is a gift I’ll carry always.
"I am immensely proud of our work, our impact and to be moving forward with so many tools, opportunities, allies and dear friends."
Unlike past stars (such as T.R. Knight and Patrick Dempsey, both of whom appeared in visions this year after Meredith fell into a Covid-related coma), Williams’ Avery will not be killed on.
On Thursday’s emotional episode, Jackson v isited his ex-wife April and their three-year-old daughter to break the news that he no longer wants to keep working at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.
He said he is ready to take over the family’s Catherine Fox Foundation …
… which, in turn, means a move to Boston.
Jackson also drove to Alabama to talk to his estranged father.
"I need to know why you left," Jackson asked his dad, who had abandoned him and his mom when Jackson was young.
"Because I realized that it’s really messed me up pretty badly. It just made it hard to maintain relationships and stuff. I have this inclination to run away and stuff.
"I know running away doesn’t solve anything, I know that."
After being assured by his dad that he’s a good person, Jackson was off to see April.
"Running the foundation means I have to move to Boston," he told her.
"I’m moving to Boston and I really need you all to come. The foundation will employ you and Matthew (April’s husband). You’ll be set.
"You can do whatever you want in terms of an outreach program, or build or anything you want to do, we’ll fund it. I would never leave Harriet.
"I could never, ever leave Harriet which means I really need you all to come with me. Please."
Jackson then learned that April has split from her husband.
And viewers learned that Jackson had previously cited both the coronavirus and its impact on African-Americas for a major reason he wanted to move and change jobs.
"I can’t stay at Grey Sloan," he told his mom in a flashback to their chat, adding:
"Do you know ho many people of color we’ve already lost since the pandemic started? The system keep diminishing and erasing us. They’re literally letting people just die in the streets and we can do something about it."
Concluded Jackson as part of this conversation:
"I have to show Harriet that we can put our money and our attention where our mouths are.
"That can acknowledge the connection within our work and what’s happening in the streets and give a sense of equity in this world…
"I want to take over the foundation. I want to reallocate every penny that we have to equity in medicine: women’s health, trans health, racially equity.
"I want everyone who the country abuses to be served."
As for Williams himself?
"Watching his evolution these past 11 years both on screen and off has been a true gift," said Vernoff, who became showrunner in 2007.
"Jesse brings so much heart, such depth of care, and so much intelligence to his work.
‘We will miss Jesse terribly and we will miss Jackson Avery — played to perfection for so many years."