Justin Chambers hints a return to Grey’s Anatomy – before or after Meredith leaves?

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Is Dr. Alex Karev coming back to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital? Justin Chambers hinted as much in a new Instagram post of a coffee cup with a Grey’s Anatomy sleeve featuring the three remaining OGs: Meredith Grey, Miranda Bailey, and Richard Webber. He captioned it, “A fresh cup of Greys.” Is he coming back to the show as or after Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey exits (in the February 23 episode)? Is Justin just teasing us? Will Grey’s have to rely on reappearances from departed characters to keep interest without Meredith?

A familiar face might be scrubbing back into Grey’s Anatomy.

Justin Chambers, who played Dr. Alex Karev on the first 16 seasons of the beloved medical drama from 2005 to 2020, has fans’ heart rates soaring after seemingly teasing a potential return.

On Jan. 31, Chambers posted a photo of a cup of coffee with a sleeve featuring the images of Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) and Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson).

Chambers captioned the pic, “A fresh cup of Greys.”

While this wasn’t an outright confirmation that he’ll be returning to Grey Sloan Memorial any time soon, it didn’t prevent Grey’s fans from getting themselves into a tizzy.

Chambers officially announced his exit from the show in January 2020.

“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,” he said in a statement to E! News at the time. “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.”

The actor made his final appearance on the show in March 2020, which found Dr. Karev leaving the hospital to be with wife Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) and their twins Alexis and Eli.

Now, if Chambers is returning to Shonda Rhimes’ medical drama, we hope it overlaps with Pompeo’s upcoming exit on Feb. 23. Pompeo, who has played the titular doctor for Grey’s Anatomy’s 19-season run, is stepping down as a full-time cast member when the series returns from its winter hiatus.

She is expected to return for the season 19 finale, which explains why she also added that she’ll “definitely be back to visit.”

Grey’s Anatomy returns from its winter hiatus Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. on ABC.

[From E! Online]

Justin’s Alex Karev character was written off in spring 2020 in the worst way — he abandoned his current wife to reunite with the wife who ghosted him years earlier, all because she used their embryos secretly and he had to get back with his ex to be a father to his secret kids. It was pretty horrible and inconsistent and torpedoed 16 years of character development and growth. Justin didn’t even appear for the episodes leading up to his surprise departure or even the final episode — he did the voice over and they used body doubles to stand in for him and Katherine Heigl. At the time, Justin said he was leaving to expand his career. He’s only appeared in the Marlon Brando miniseries since, so maybe the opportunities weren’t there or dried up due to covid. Or maybe, that reason wasn’t actually it because then why not appear on camera and have a better send off? It seemed like production was protecting Justin and letting him deal with whatever he needed to without scrutiny, but scrambling to find an exit for him without killing him off so he could come back when he was ready. And maybe he’s ready now? God knows how that return will go over with his abandoned wife. I’ve not been a diligent viewer this season, but if he comes back I will definitely tune in to see how they try to walk that one back and make him likeable again.

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13 Responses to “Justin Chambers hints a return to Grey’s Anatomy – before or after Meredith leaves?”

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  1. FHMom says:

    I’m a long time Greys fan, and that show has had many, many bad storylines and cast departures. Some of those I attribute to Shonda hating an actor more than she appreciates her viewers. However, I have never seen a cast departure as bad as Karev’s departure. It was a turning point for me. Now I hate watch the show when I remember it’s on. Shonda really did her fans (and Jo)dirty. He shouldn’t come back. It will just be more bad writing and stupid storylines.

    • Valentino says:

      I agree that Shonda did some actor departures wrong but she had nothing to do with Alex horrible send-off since she left ABC in 2017, Krista Vernoff took over as showrunner and is the reason for all the bad writing.

  2. Jessi says:

    His exit was so abrupt I thought it had to be related to an illness (either his or a family member) but then we never heard anything else…. Does anyone know what really happened?

  3. AmyB says:

    Grey’s Anatomy is one of my favorite shows, but the way Alex Karev’s character was demolished in his exit was unforgivable, and I still hate Shondra for that plane crash in Season 8.

    As much as I love Alex’s character, coming back now would be a bad move IMO. But then again, I think it is time for the show to end. Nothing will ever compare to the early seasons with the original interns and characters like Mark Sloan, Lexie Grey, Jackson & April, Callie & Arizona.

  4. Sonia says:

    I’m in the minority here but I sincerely LOVED the way Alex left. He wanted to be a dad. Those were his kids that he needed to raise. Jo understood and I loved the raw, brutal honesty of his letter to her.

    And I remember reading somewhere he left because he was dealing with anxiety/emotional issues and asked to be let out of his contract while he addressed those personal issues.

    • AmyB says:


      I never saw anything explaining Chamber’s exit from Grey’s other than it was a career decision, but if he was dealing with some kind of mental health stress/issues, I hope he is doing better now! Makes sense given how abrupt it was for sure. His character arc on the show was really enjoyable, and I definitely miss him.

  5. Jay says:

    That exit was so abrupt, and so obviously thrown together that there had to be something behind the scenes. They had to use body doubles and a “letter” from his character read by Meredith in a voiceover. I don’t blame the writers – they did the best they could with the situation they had, tried their best to come up with something true to the character, and still left him a way back- they didn’t have him run over by a bus off screen.

    I hope whatever was going on, Chambers is doing okay now. I haven’t watched Grey’s in eons, and he was never my favourite, but it might help mitigate Meredith’s leaving to have at least one part of the original MAGIC back.

  6. Robert Phillips says:

    Grey’s Anatomy the show took off. But this guy never did. He was in the papers for about the first 2 or 3 seasons. Then just dissapeared from the public. Yes I know he was still on the show. But look how many other guys have come and gone through the show and gone on to other things. Even if just the tabloid stories. But he never did. He’s a decent looking guy, and I guess a decent actor. But he just doesn’t have the “it” factor.

  7. LAGirlie says:

    Can confirm that there were personal issues and the show wanted to protect him. Kindness off-screen turned into a crappy exit on-screen.

  8. AnMaBe says:

    It’s no secret that Justin dealt with some stuff in the past. I do suspect more than the claimed reason, but that’s private and should stay that way.

    The children Izzy had were not really “secret children”. The fertilized eggs were hers to use, as per the agreement in the divorce. He gave them to her and told her she could do with them whatever she wanted. And she did (he just didn’t know it yet). He even told Jo this (and she freaked obviously (and was right about kids running around with his face on them LOL))

  9. Moxylady says:

    Didn’t he get help back when Heath Ledger died? Something about insomnia? I hope he’s doing well mentally and emotionally.