We’ve lost another original Grey’s Anatomy star. Justin Chambers, who has played Dr. Alex Karev as a main cast member since season 1, announced on Friday, January 10, that he is leaving the Shonda Rhimes series, now in the middle of its history-making sixteenth season.
“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,” the 49-year-old said in a statement to Deadline. “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.”
With Justin’s departure, fans are left with just three stars who have been on Grey’s Anatomy since the very beginning: Ellen Pompeo (the titular Meredith Grey), Chandra Wilson (Dr. Miranda Bailey) and James Pickens Jr. (Dr. Richard Webber). Other original cast members who have since departed include Patrick Dempsey (Dr. Derek Shepherd), Sandra Oh (Dr. Cristina Yang), Katherine Heigl (Dr. Izzie Stevens), T.R. Knight (Dr. George O’Malley) and Isaiah Washington (Dr. Preston Burke).
“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,” Justin’s statement added.
In addition to amassing quite the following as a star on what has become the longest-running medical drama on television, Justin has build quite the family for himself. He married his wife, Keisha Chambers, in 1993 and together they have five grown children — Isabella, 25, twins Maya and Kaila, 22, Eva, 20, and Jackson, 18.
While there’s no official word on when Justin’s final episode of Grey’s Anatomy will be, we’re just going to start preparing ourselves now to say farewell. Good thing there are tons — 351 to date, to get specific — of old episodes to go back and revisit as we get all nostalgic.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.