How Is ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Writing Out Alex After Justin Chambers’ Exit?

Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Justin Chambers Exit Alex Storyline
Spoiler Alert
ABC/Kelsey McNeal

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 16, Episode 13 of Grey’s Anatomy, “Save the Last Dance for Me.”]

Ever since the shocking announcement that Justin Chambers was leaving Grey’s Anatomyhis final episode, “My Shot,” had already aired when the news broke — fans have been wondering how the series would write out his character.

He’s only been mentioned a few times since Episode 8. He’s been off visiting and caring for his mother, with Richard (James Pickens, Jr.) noting that he was still in Iowa “dealing with family issues” in Thursday’s episode. But he was still making decisions about Pac-North, approving an offer to bring Maggie (Kelly McCreary) on to run the cardio department, at least until Catherine (Debbie Allen) bought the hospital formerly known as “The Morgue.”

But his off-screen story — and therefore his wife Jo’s (Camilla Luddington) on-screen one — has now taken a turn. The message Richard relayed to Owen (Kevin McKidd) regarding Alex’s reaction to Pac-North’s fate was a text of “a laugh until you cry emoji with a party hat.” That suggests he doesn’t particularly care what happens to the hospital. And while there is a plan in place for a spot for Alex at Grey Sloan once again — serving as Co-Chief of Pediatric Surgery alongside Cormac (Richard Flood) — it’s unlikely he’ll take that position, even off-screen.

Jo Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 13 Alex Exit

(ABC/Rick Rowell)

That’s due to the personal developments in Alex’s story. “Alex hasn’t been returning my calls,” Jo admitted to Amelia (Caterina Scorsone). “He says that he’s going through something and he needs time and if I didn’t know better, I would think he was getting revenge for when I needed time, but I know he would never do that.” He was presumably still doing that at the end of the episode, since Jo returned home to an empty apartment.

What’s most important to note is Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) voiceover as she did: “When one thing ends, something new always begins.” Is this the beginning of the end of Alex and Jo’s relationship, despite the two making their marriage legal earlier in the season? Could it be that Alex will never return to Seattle and we see Jo come home one day to find all his stuff gone?

As for the “something new” that could be coming for Jo, maybe she’ll become a foster parent. We saw her struggling to bring the baby she picked while volunteering for Safe Haven to the hospital, and she spoke of her own experience in the foster system in this episode. Whatever is coming up for her, it’s unlikely that Alex is going to be part of her future.

Grey’s Anatomy, Thursdays, 9/8c, ABC