How Grey's Anatomy Explained Justin Chambers' Absence As Alex Karev

Justin Chambers Grey's Anatomy ABC

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Station 19 episode "I Know this Bar" and Grey's Anatomy's "Help Me Through The Night." Read at your own risk.

Grey's Anatomy returned with a major crossover with Station 19, and while there were questions from fans on whether everyone would get out of the bar accident unscathed, there are still many more questions about Alex Karev actor Justin Chambers. The actor recently announced his exit from the series, and there have been questions of how the Shonda Rhimes drama would address his characters' abrupt exit ever since.

As promised, Grey's Anatomy did address Alex's exit, though not in a way that will permanently take his character out of the story. According to Jo, he was in Iowa visiting his mother, and it didn't sound like he was still gone because of an emergency or tragedy. To the uninformed viewer, it would sound like nothing is out of the ordinary, but obviously that's not the case.

For now, Grey's Anatomy has not presented a definitive reason why Alex Karev is going to be MIA moving forward. It's possible Justin Chambers' decision to depart wasn't confirmed until after the midseason premiere was already completed, so there was no time or room to add a reason for what will prove to be an indefinite absence. The series was able to soldier on without Alex for the return, but sooner than later, his absence will be a problem.

This is mainly due to Jo Karev's baby fever, as evidenced by her temporary kidnapping of the safe-haven baby she was supposed to deliver to social services. It was clear throughout the episode Jo was really thinking about kids, which could be a big storyline for her going forward. Unfortunately, a Jo-centric story about wanting kids might not be possible just yet, with Alex hanging out with his mom in the Midwest.

So, how exactly will Grey's Anatomy get rid of Justin Chambers' character? Right now, the easiest option seems to be by killing him, as it would allow Jo's story to continue after some appropriate grieving. Grey's Anatomy likely doesn't have the luxury of getting Chambers back for a proper exit.

Death would be a far from an ideal exit given Justin Chambers' departure comes after 15 years on Grey's Anatomy, though the situation may not have left the show much choice. Of course, shows like this don't stay on the air this long without some creative problem-solving, so there's a chance Shonda Rhimes and crew will find a way to end Alex Karev's tenure in a way that fans can enjoy without hurting the season's story too much.

Grey's Anatomy airs on ABC Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. ET. Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for more on what's happening with television in 2020, and for a look at what's going on in the world of movies as well.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.