The OG Grey’s Anatomy Cast Reunited At The Emmys But Still Didn’t Explain Why Justin Chambers Left

Five of the original Grey’s Anatomy cast — including three of the five OG interns (!!!) — reunited at the 75th Emmys, and while it was a throwback to the glory days of Seattle Grace (RIP), it was missing one, crucial detail: why did Justin Chambers leave the show?

Chambers, alongside Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey), Katherine Heigl (Izzy Stevens), Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey) and James Pickens Jr (Richard Webber), took to the Emmys stage, standing inside a make-shift hospital room. It was a throwback to the first season of Grey’s, which aired almost 20 years ago (in 2005, to be precise).

“When Grey’s Anatomy aired in March of 2005, I’m not sure if [creator and original showrunner] Shonda Rhimes knew that she had created a show that would have a lasting influence on television and create lifelong friendships,” Pompeo said.

“At over 400 episodes and counting, it’s a tribute to everyone who has been part of our family,” Chambers continued.

“And yes, there have been some changes over the years, but the one thing that’s been remained constant is the incredible fan base,” Heigl said, with a cheeky grin that I know in my HEART is an acknowledgement of her return to the Grey’s fold in this reunion.

“You’ve stayed with us through plane crashes, super storms, earthquakes, and a global pandemic, and as we start our 20th season, we are officially the longest-running primetime medical drama in TV history,” Wilson said.

Seeing Chambers, Pompeo, and Heigl in the same room was already a shock to the heart, because they made up three of the five original interns, collectively known as MAGIC. (To explain the name for the non-huge nerds among us: M = Meredith, A = Alex, G = George O’Malley, played by T.R. Knight, I = Izzy, and C = Cristina Yang, played by Sandra Oh.)

Oh look, it’s the friends I see whenever I’m going through a depressive period. Photo: ABC.

All five of them have since left the show, leaving Wilson and Pickens Jr the only season one cast members left.

However, it was the circumstances of Justin Chambers leaving that grinds my gears to this day.

The asshole intern to fan fave pipeline ^. Photo: ABC.

The actor has never really explained it. His surprise exit was just announced one day, out of nowhere, during filming for the show’s 16th season, and he never returned to film another episode.

So you know how the show explained his sudden disappearance? They made his character WRITE A LETTER. TO HIS WIFE. TELLING HER THAT HE WAS LEAVING HER.

I would never recover. Photo: ABC.

More specifically, Alex Karev wrote letters to some of the characters, including his wife Jo Wilson, telling them he’d discovered his ex-wife Izzy had miraculously given birth to their twin babies years earlier, and he was off to go be a father.


Even Katherine Heigl’s exit — which was not made under the best of circumstances — had more dignity and grace, with Izzy leaving to start fresh after surviving cancer. And the exits of other actors who had decided they’d have enough of Grey’s Anatomy are some of the most heart-breaking (yet narratively satisfying) episodes of all time. Yes, I’m talking about George, Mark, Lexie and Derek’s deaths, and Cristina’s emotional goodbye to go be a rockstar cardiothoracic surgeon in Switzerland.

So why did Justin Chambers just bounce out of there? We still have no idea.

Meredith should have hunted him down and kicked his ass. Just one gal’s opinion. Photo: ABC.

What we know about why Justin Chambers left Grey’s Anatomy

At the time (January 2020), he made a statement to Deadline:

“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. 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,” he said.

“As I move on from Grey’s Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda Rhimes, 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.”

A few months later, when showrunner Krista Vernoff was asked about it, she declined to comment. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said.

I smell spice. I smell drama. And I NEED to know what happened.

The only other hint we have is this rare interview Justin Chambers gave Lynette Rice for her 2022 book, How To Save A Life: “You’re in a bubble [on the show]. You wear scrubs every day, you see pretty much the same people every day, in the same four walls, the same studios, you drive the same route to work. For me it [was] sort of a factory job for acting. You just clock in, clock out. Yeah, I guess it is sentimental, but it’s sort of like, ‘Wow, I just can’t believe how fast it’s gone.’”

This is my Roman empire. I must, must know.

FYI, you can stream Grey’s Anatomy on Disney+.