'Grey's Anatomy' Original Star Justin Chambers to Exit

ABC's Grey's Anatomy is saying farewell to one of its few remaining stars.

Justin Chambers, the actor behind Alex Karev, will depart during the Shonda Rhimes-produced medical drama's current 16th season after an impressive 15-year run with the series. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Chambers' final episode has already aired — the Nov. 14 installment that saw Alex step in to help save Meredith's (Ellen Pompeo) career.

Chambers is currently one of only four original Grey's Anatomy stars to remain with the series from the pilot. His departure leaves leading lady Pompeo, James Pickens Jr. (Richard) and Chandra Wilson (Bailey). 

"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. 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," Chambers said in a statement. “As I move on from Grey’s Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda Rhimes, 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." 

Chambers has been a pivotal part of Grey's and has become a key confidant for star Pompeo both onscreen and off during their decade and a half working together. Alex is currently one of the doctors who exited the show's central hospital, Grey Sloan, to become chief of staff at Pacific Northwest as part of a larger storyline that saw a number of top docs fired after an insurance fraud scheme involving Meredith and her attempts to help a family in need. 

Chambers' departure arrives as Grey's is ABC's No. 1 scripted drama, a rare feat for a show in its 16th season. "When we were in season two, I'd say to everybody, 'Do you think we've got two more years? I just wanted to get my kids to college.' And now some of them are done with it!" Chambers told The Hollywood Reporter last February as Grey's Anatomy made television history when it broke ER's record for TV's longest-running primetime medical drama.

Chambers becomes the latest series regular to depart Grey's, which has weathered the exits of original stars like Sandra Oh (Cristina, season 10), Patrick Dempsey (Derek, season 11), Katherine Heigl (season six), T.R. Knight (season five) and Isaiah Washington (who was notably fired in season three). 

The veteran series has always brought in new faces to help fill the void, with fan favorites like Jesse Williams (Jackson), Camilla Luddington (Jo, Chambers' onscreen wife), Kevin McKidd (Owen) and the returns of familiar faces including Kim Raver (Teddy) and Caterina Scorsone (Amelia).