How Grey's Addressed Dr. Alex Karev's Absence in Midseason Premiere After Justin Chambers' Exit

Christina Dugan

Ever since Justin Chambers confirmed his exit from Grey’s Anatomy after 15 years, fans have been wondering how his character, Dr. Alex Karev, would be written off the show.

During Thursday’s season 16 midseason premiere of the ABC medical drama, Alex’s wife, Jo Wilson Karev (Camilla Luddington), addressed her husband’s absence.

After Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) arrived at the Karev’s apartment, she noticed Alex wasn’t there.

“He’s visiting his mom,” Jo explained.

Chambers, 49, was noticeably absent from the midseason finale in November, and it was explained that his character was taking care of his ailing mother.

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Justin Chambers and Camilla Luddington | Jennifer Clasen/ABC

Earlier this month, ABC confirmed to PEOPLE that the original cast member had left Grey’s after starring as Alex for 16 seasons. His final episode aired on Nov. 14, 2019, so he will not get a send-off episode.

“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.”

Dr. Alex Karev | Richard Cartwright/Walt Disney Television via Getty

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.”

Days after his announcement, he addressed his difficult decision to leave and revealed what he wants to pursue next.

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Justin Chambers | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

“I’m very excited [for this new chapter],” the actor told Page Six while leaving Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. “Of course [it was a hard decision]. Anywhere that you spend 15 years, it’s a big chunk of your life.”

When asked what he’s looking forward to, Chambers responded, “Life, family, love, and friendships.”

Looking ahead, one big question remains unanswered for Grey’s fans: What does this mean for Alex’s wife, Jo?

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.