One week ago, Alex Karev actor Justin Chambers issued a statement about leaving Grey's Anatomy in the middle of Season 16. His final episode reportedly already aired on November 14, 2019. That left fans shocked but also nervous about how the ABC show would explain his absence. How are they going to write out this original character? He's Meredith Grey's "person," since Cristina Yang is already gone. Will they kill Alex off-screen? What about Alex's wife Jo Wilson Karev (Camilla Luddington)? Even if Alex lives, will Jolex die?
Jo and Alex became one of Grey's Anatomy's most popular 'ships. Why should the relationship have to end just because Justin Chambers abruptly left the show? They were just getting started and wanted a family!
When Grey's Anatomy Season 16 makes its 2020 return next Thursday, January 23, Alex's absence will reportedly be mentioned, but not in a way that writes him out or provides closure. So I'm hoping both Alex and the Jolex 'ship can at least survive -- even if it'll be awkward to try to explain why we don't see Alex on screen anymore.
On that note, here are five ways Grey's Anatomy can write out Alex Karev without killing him off or ending the Jolex relationship:
1. Alex Still Works At Pac North Off Screen
No matter what Grey's Anatomy chooses to do, it's going to frustrate fans. But since Alex is already working at Pac North, after being fired from Grey Sloan at the end of Season 15, they could just let him stay there and occasionally reference him. It could be like how April Kepner still lives in the area and co-parents baby Harriet with Jackson Avery, we just don't see her on screen anymore. She no longer works at Grey Sloan. So every so often, Jo or Meredith Grey could mention Alex. We could even spend more time at Pac North, where several other former Grey Sloan doctors now work, and everyone could just mention Alex. Sad as it is, this might be the best-case scenario.
2. Alex Takes Care Of His Mom
Let's say Alex Karev quits Pac North, or takes an extended break, and stays in Iowa to spend time with his mother Helen Karev (Lindsay Wagner). Or Grey's Anatomy could say Helen was moving to Seattle and Alex thought it was time he quit to be a full-time caregiver, with Jo bringing home the bacon. Helen has schizophrenia, and even though she was doing better, it would still make sense if she needed some family care. Alex and his mom got to bond a bit more, and Helen was even kind of nudging Jo to have grandchildren -- which is part of what led Jo to follow her own family history and meet her birth mother, which sent her into her own mental health crisis. At any rate, if Alex spends a lot of time with his mom, Grey's Anatomy could just mention that through Jo.
3. Alex Takes Care Of The Baby
Grey's Anatomy Season 16's winter 2019 finale showed Jo volunteering for a safe haven program and caring for a baby that was abandoned at Station 19. Jo was abandoned at a fire station as a baby herself, so it made sense that she'd bond with the child. She even brought the baby home. What happens from there? It looks like the winter return episode shows her with the baby -- along with the new pediatrics doc who replaced Alex at Grey Sloan. I really hope Grey's doesn't try to bring Jo and Dr. Cormac Hayes close together. Better to say Alex is the one staying at home with the baby. Maybe he quits Pac North as a lost cause and decides to stay home as a full-time dad, and we just follow Jo at Grey Sloan. As not-ideal-scenarios go, I kinda like this one.
4. Alex Joins Arizona In New York
Jo and Alex could do the long-distance thing if Arizona Robbins happens to call up Alex with an offer in NYC he can't refuse. They are both pediatric bosses and maybe she launches a new clinic and has a job that's perfect for him. He could work out there while Jo stays in Seattle at Grey Sloan ... or they could send Jo out there too. I'd hate for Camilla Luddington to lose her job on Grey's Anatomy because of Justin Chambers, though, so I'd prefer any scenario that kept Jo around while Alex was just off-screen. Just don't kill him off!
5. Alex Joins Cristina In Switzerland
I don't know why Alex would go to Switzerland without Jo, so this scenario would probably result in Jo leaving too, which is not ideal. When Sandra Oh left Grey's Anatomy, Cristina Yang wasn't killed off, she took a job at the Klausman Institute for Medical Research in Zurich, Switzerland. Every so often, we get a Cristina reference, or even a text from Cristina to her "person" Meredith. What if both of Meredith's OG peeps went to Switzerland? This is another tricky scenario for Jo, since I don't see Alex going there without Jo unless they broke up off-screen. I'm trying to keep Jolex together. Switzerland would be quite a long-distance relationship from Seattle, so this is the least likely scenario to work if 1) Jo stays at Grey Sloan as a main character on Grey's Anatomy and 2) Jolex gets to stay alive as a relationship.
I'm not in love with any of those scenarios either, but guess what? There are no great options left unless Justin Chambers returns. What other ideas can you think of where Alex gets written off the show -- 'cause we have no choice in that matter -- but Alex stays alive and he and Jo stay together? They just got married! They were just getting past their personal dramas! Don't ruin Jolex for us.
I don't envy Krista Vernoff, Shonda Rhimes, and the Grey's Anatomy writers the task ahead. No matter what they write for Alex Karev, it won't be what fans really want.