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The Reason Justin Chambers Left Grey's Anatomy

It's never easy when your favorite character leaves one of your favorite shows. Fans of ABC's long-running drama "Grey's Anatomy," however, should be fairly used to saying goodbye. Over the years, we've bid adieu to original cast members George O'Malley (T. R. Knight), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), and, of course, McDreamy himself, Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). So, when Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) left Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, we should have been ready, but the tears still came.

For 16 seasons, Justin Chambers played the overly blunt and often grumpy Alex Karev. Viewers watched the character grow from a lowly surgical intern to the head of pediatric surgery, as well as a brief stint as the hospital's chief of surgery. We saw him mature and step up as Meredith's (Ellen Pompeo) "person" after Yang left. As with most characters on the show, Karev had a series of relationships with coworkers and even a patient. We thought he'd found full happiness when he married Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington). But by the end of Season 16, Alex had packed his bags and moved to Kansas to be with Izzie and their two children, leaving Meredith as the last member of their intern group from Season 1.

For Justin Chambers, leaving Grey's Anatomy was difficult

Fans of "Grey's Anatomy" know that departing actors haven't always left on the best of terms. Some left after butting heads with the show's creator Shonda Rimes, others had much-publicized clashes with fellow castmates. But for Justin Chambers, the decision to leave came not from animosity, but rather a desire to turn the page.

In a statement to Deadline, Chambers explained that the decision was not easy, but he believed it was the right one. He told the outlet that being on a show for 15 years, playing a character "that's defined so much of [his] life," makes leaving extremely difficult. However, he went on to note that he wanted to explore other roles and other opportunities in order to "diversify [his] acting roles and career choices." In the message, Chambers made sure to thank Rhimes, the cast, the crew, "and, of course, the fans for an extraordinary ride."