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Grey's Anatomy Jo and Alex Jolex wedding ABC

What the heck just happened? Grey's Anatomy fans were already worried for another star of the show after his posts about a career loss. But never mind that now, because that was quickly followed by the shocking announcement from original Grey's actor Justin Chambers that he would be leaving the show as Dr. Alex Karev. Except ... it sounds like he already left and ABC already aired his final episode. It's bizarre and fans are handling it about as well as you might expect.

Sure, Grey Sloan already replaced Alex Karev's job with a new doctor, but Alex was still part of the cast and working (temporarily, I thought) at PacNorth. Plus, he and Jo Wilson just got married and have talked about starting a family. Plus, he's Meredith Grey's only OG friend left from Season 1. He's her new person now that Cristina Yang is off in Europe.

So how is Grey's Anatomy going to write out Alex Karev? Is he going to get the Cristina treatment and be mentioned off screen? Will he continue at PacNorth and we just hear about him through Jo? Is he ... going to get the Derek treatment and be killed off?

It's hard to imagine they'd kill him off, especially when -- another shocker -- Justin Chambers reportedly already filmed and aired his final episode:

What?! True, Alex was missing from Grey's Anatomy Season 16's winter finale, which aired November 21. That's leading into the big Station 19 crossover that premieres January 23. But Alex was always expected back.

I seriously thought Alex and Jo were going to be the ultimate endgame couple to turn off the lights whenever Grey's Anatomy eventually ended. They are arguably the most popular couple on the show right now, unless maybe Amelia and Link have that spot. Things keep changing, it's hard to gauge.

So what happens to Jo? She can certainly exist as a character without Alex, she's strong on her own and she's had quite an arc. But they really boxed her into a corner by just starting her married life with Alex. She's recovering from her own personal tragedy, explored when meeting her birth mother last season. She and Alex were going to have kids. That's something fans had wanted for so long for Alex. Will that still happen? Will we just never see Alex as part of his kids' lives? Who would even want that?

ABC has already renewed Grey's Anatomy through Season 17 and we thought, until today, that Justin Chambers would be part of that cast. This feels abrupt, to say the least, and fans don't know what is going to happen next:

Yeah, that did not feel like a goodbye. That was not closure. That was not enough for fans who have loved Alex Karev for 16 seasons. And what about Camilla Luddington's Jo? Will they write her out without Alex? I would hate that for her, so I certainly hope not. But so much of Jo Wilson Karev's story was tied to him and their future, so it's going to be strange, however they move forward.

Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Ben Warren and Jo Wilson Karev with fire station baby ABC

I do remember Ellen Pompeo being frustrated after Patrick Dempsey left and so many fans wanted Grey's Anatomy to end. She wanted to show how Meredith could go on without Derek and be single for a while. I would hope Justin Chambers and Ellen Pompeo, as a producer, both fought for the character of Jo to go on without Alex, however they explain it. Maybe she just takes care of that fire station baby and ... Alex is just understood to be helping her off-screen? Eh.

Yeah, at the moment there's just a lot of shock and a ton of questions. Justin Chambers dropped the bomb on fans on a Friday afternoon, two weeks before Grey's Anatomy returns from winter hiatus. Why now? I'm curious about that. It really does seem abrupt.

At least when Grey's Anatomy revealed April and Arizona would be written off the show, there were several episodes for fans to prepare, and they both got to say goodbye in their own ways -- leaving the door open for potential appearances down the road. Their stories were given endings, as opposed to how things were left with Alex Karev in that Season 16, Episode 8 hour on November 14. It was the big 350th milestone episode but if ABC knew that was his final episode at the time, why not say it?

Welp, this changes things for Grey's Anatomy Season 16, but the show will still continue for this season and into Season 17 and maybe beyond. Yay? The winter 2020 premiere airs Thursday, January 23 at 9 p.m. -- new time, after Station 19 -- on ABC.

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