On Friday, ABC confirmed to PEOPLE that the 49-year-old original cast member will be leaving the beloved medical drama after starring as Dr. Alex Karev for 16 seasons.
“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,” Chambers said in a statement to Deadline. “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.”
He added, “As I move on from Grey’s Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda Rimes, original cast members Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens, and the rest of the amazing cast and crew, both past and present, and, of course, the fans for an extraordinary ride.”
Additionally, PEOPLE can confirm that Chambers’ last episode was aired on November 14. There will not be a send-off episode.
Throughout the years, fans grew to love Alex Karev — an egotistical medical intern who blossomed into a nurturing pediatric surgeon throughout the seasons. Last season, Karev was fired for his involvement in the insurance fraud scandal and was hired Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Pacific Northwest General Hospital.
While it’s unclear whether Chambers will appear in the second half of Grey’s Anatomy‘s season 16, fans were quick to express their disappointment.
Justin Chambers is leaving Grey’s Anatomy, and my day is officially ruined 😭— Shelley Guittarr (@shellguittarr) January 10, 2020
So so sad that Justin Chambers leaving Grey’s Anatomy...he is one of the main reasons why I still watch the show (along woth the other original members and his storyline with Jo)💔😭— Martha (@xblindinglight) January 10, 2020
And the big question remains unanswered: what’s in store for Alex and wife, Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington)?
Last season, the duo realized they never mailed in their signed a marriage license (after their ferry boat wedding in season 14), and it had expired. Then going through a difficult time, Jo gave Alex “an out” as she signed herself into a psychiatric facility.
But Alex wasn’t having it and proposed again after she finished her month-long stint at the facility.
Alex’s second proposal couldn’t have been more emotional and romantic.
“I don’t want an out, you hear me,” he told Jo after her 30 days in in-patient therapy were over. “You offered me an out. You were right. I was scared, so I thought about it and what I know for sure now is I’m a better man with you. I want to be your husband. I want you to be my wife.”
After receiving funding for his hospital Pac-North, Alex told Jo during the Halloween episode, “We should do something to celebrate. What time does the courthouse close? The two then stood in front of a judge in full costume.
Karev was absent from the midseason finale in November, but appeared in the powerful 350th episode.
Grey’s Anatomy‘s midseason premiere airs on Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.