Ellen Pompeo Defends Grey's Anatomy's Alex Karev Send-Off After Justin Chambers' Sudden Exit
"For me personally for Karev to go back to the beginning ... was the best possible storyline," Ellen Pompeo said
“Hi here I go again,” Pompeo, 50, wrote alongside a video homage to Karev. “Thank YOU! You are truly the best most passionate most loyal fans anyone could ever ask for. Because of you we got to make great tv… because of you we got to make television history! I say often life is hard and thank God it is because like I tell my kids… it shows us what we are made …of how strong we really are and let’s face it… without the lows there would be no dancing it out or celebrating this incredible experience we call life. Thanks to our national treasure @therealdebbieallen and the writers for giving Alex Karev the best send off.”
“Thanks to @shondarhimes for creating the most amazing character,” she continued. “For me personally for Karev to go back to the beginning … was the best possible storyline. It pays homage to those incredible first years and the incredible cast … that created a foundation so strong that the show is still standing. So let’s not be sad. As our fearless leader DA always says let’s PULL UP and celebrate the actors the writers and the fantastic crew who make this show come to life every week. No matter what the challenge or how tired we all are in the end … you keep us going … That is worth dancing it out over! So much love and gratitude to you all. Xo E.”
During Thursday’s episode, fans finally got answers as to why Justin Chambers‘ beloved character left Grey Sloan Memorial, his wife Jo (Camilla Luddington) and the home he’s known for 16 seasons.
In four different letters to wife Jo, Meredith Grey (Pompeo), Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.), Alex explained the reason for his sudden departure: He’s moved to Kansas to be with his ex-wife, Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), and their 5-year-old twins.
“The thing is, I can’t come back,” Alex said in his letter to Meredith. “I can’t face you. I deserve the guilt and to be called an ass. I don’t want to be set straight. I don’t want you to say the right thing. Because the one perfect thing isn’t in Seattle. Not anymore. I swear it’s not about you or work or Jo, it’s about me. I left and I’m with Izzie.”
In his letter to Jo, Alex to her she “deserved more” than a letter, but that he would always love her.
“This right here, this cowardness, it’s officially the worst thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “It’s about me, it’s not about you. You deserve so much better than this. I love you, Jo. I love that you are brilliant and brave and no matter what you go through you never let it hold you back. It makes you stronger, kinder. You made me kinder. You love me for exactly for who I was and I loved you. I love you. Maybe it’s not fair to say that but it’s true. But this is also true. I’m in love with Izzie.”
“She’s here in Kansas on a farm in this incredible place in the middle of nowhere,” he said. “Izzie had my kids and I know you get what that really means. You of all people know why I can’t just leave now. I have a chance to make this family whole. I need to give these kids the family you and I never had.”
“I wish getting everything I always wanted didn’t have to hurt you in the process,” he said. “But I can’t lie to you and I can’t come home. I’m not coming home, Jo. I can’t face you. I can’t look you in the eye because I wouldn’t be able to walk away … Thank you for taking care of me when I needed it.”
Considering that Heigl left the show back in 2010 and that Chambers’ character appeared to happily move on, the plot twist was shocking.
Following the episode, fans shared their thoughts on social media, suggesting that the show should have just killed off Chambers’ character.
“You ruined one of the best character redemption arcs in television history,” fumed another. “I am livid. DAMN YOU SHONDA. This is worse than Derek… this is f—ing worse than MCDREAMY GETTING KILLED OFF.”
Fans were also critical of show creator Shonda Rhimes, with one writing, “Have a great night everyone! Except you Shonda Rhimes.”
But many also jumped to Rhimes’ defense, pointing out that she left the series as a showrunner years ago and hadn’t written a new episode in years .
“This isn’t Shonda Rhimes’ fault,” wrote one supporter. “She hasn’t been the head showrunner for Grey’s Anatomy for a long time. … Let’s not pin our grievances on the back of a very successful black woman when she is not to blame.”
In January, ABC confirmed to PEOPLE that Chambers, 49, was not returning to the franchise.
“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 PEOPLE. “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.”