Grey's Anatomy Boss Never Considered Killing Off Alex Karev — Here's Why

Justin Chambers Leaves Grey's Anatomy

With Justin Chambers unavailable to shoot additional episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, showrunner Krista Vernoff had precious few options when it came to writing Alex Karev off the show last month.

“At the end of the day, there were three choices,” the EP explains to TVLine. “Kill Alex off camera; have Alex be alive and in Seattle — and still married to Jo — and we just never see him; or [reunite him] with Izzie.”

As we learned in the March 5 episode, Vernoff went with Option 3, which she saw as the only viable one. Killing Alex would’ve been “cruel to everyone — particularly Meredith and Jo,” she says of the character’s BFF and wife, respectively. “There was no way to not put those characters through gut-wrenching, ongoing grief if we had killed Alex off camera.”

An Alex death also would have been unfair to Grey’s diehards, Vernoff says. “Some fans were upset, particularly the Jolex shippers, that [Alex left Jo to be with Izzie] — and I understand why. But I would fight real hard anyone who tried to tell me that fans would not have been equally or more upset if I had killed Alex Karev off camera.”

And Option 2 — having Alex remain in Seattle and married to Jo — would have done a disservice to Chambers’ TV wife, Camilla Luddington. “It wasn’t fair to her to keep her married to a character who was off screen,” Vernoff says. “It would absolutely eliminate [the chance for her to play] so many colors that she is so good at playing.”

As a result, “this wasn’t even a debate in the writers room,” stresses Vernoff, adding that giving Alex a happy ending with Izzie “was so clearly the right course.”