How Grey's Anatomy Set Up Jesse Williams' Exit As Jackson Avery

Grey's Anatomy Jesse Williams
(Image credit: ABC Press)

Spoiler alert! The following contains spoilers for Grey's Anatomy Season 17, Episode 14, "Look Up Child," so if you haven't watched yet, you might want to stop reading now.

Grey's Anatomy is about to lose another major character. The May 6 episode of Grey's Anatomy, called "Look Up Child," aired as news broke that Jesse Williams will be leaving the longtime ABC drama after 12 years.

Confirmation of Jesse Williams' departure came courtesy of THR as the episode was airing, and the episode set up the departure nicely. The episode showed Jackson Avery visiting his father at the bar where he works, where he talked about the injustices he's seen over the past year and wanting to spend more time with his daughter Harriet. His father called him out on wanting to walk away from the complications of a doctor's life.

The conversation got heated as the two were putting together boxed lunches, and Jackson cut his hand on a commercial meat slicer. While an injury to his hand would definitely be a catalyst for the exit of a surgeon on the show, the injury appears to be minor, and Jackson's exit from the hospital seems to be tied more to the work he thinks he can do for social justice if he moves to Boston to run the Catherine Fox Foundation.

Fans also got to see the long-awaited return of Sarah Drew as April Kepner, as Jackson showed up at April's house to find her struggling with their daughter Harriet, who is sick. It turns out he's there to tell April about his impending move to Boston, and he wants April and Harriet to go with him.

After arguing about this huge move that Jackson was asking April to make, she admitted that she had split from husband Matthew, and she agreed to go to Boston with Jackson.

For what it's worth, none of the chemistry between Jackson and April has been lost. Even watching them argue in "Look Up Child" felt familiar, and you could feel the history of everything they've been through. It's clear the characters have found a way to navigate co-parenting in a healthy way for their daughter. It's a shame we won't see anymore Japril on Grey's Anatomy.

This is the second loss of a series regular this season after Andrew DeLuca was killed in the spring premiere. Meredith Grey barely survived complications of COVID-19. All of this comes as troubling news for fans of the series, as the fate of Grey's Anatomy is unknown.

But while it's a blow for fans, the move makes sense for the trajectory of Grey's Anatomy, which has been tackling social issues, especially race, this season. Jackson Avery tells his mother he wants to devote every penny of the Catherine Fox Foundation to equity in medicine, including women's health and trans health.

Grey's Anatomy will return next week at 8 p.m. ET on ABC for a Throwback Thursday event featuring two fan favorite episodes. And in two weeks, don't miss the episode "Tradition," which will be Jesse Williams' final appearance on the series. As you get ready for this unexpected exit, be sure to check out our 2021 TV schedule so you don't miss any of your other favorite shows.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.