Warning: Grey’s Anatomy spoilers ahead.
According to a source that spoke with Us Weekly, there’s a very simple reason why the Grey’s Anatomy writers sent Evil Spawn off to live on a farm with Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) and their two kids after Justin Chambers announced his exit in the middle of season 16.
“The reason he wasn’t killed off is because Shonda Rhimes is leaving the door open for a return, in any capacity, if he wants to come back,” an alleged insider told the publication. (If you’re wondering why they mention Rhimes, who is no longer the showrunner of the long-running series, it’s because she still has approval privileges as the executive producer.)
Though Chambers announced in his statement from January that Grey’s had already aired his final scenes, they were ultimately able to get him to loan his voiceover to the farewell episode.
Showrunner Krista Vernoff expressed her appreciation for the actor and character in a recent statement. “We have loved writing Alex. And we have loved watching Justin Chambers’ nuanced portrayal of him,” she tweeted. “For 16 seasons, 16 years, we have grown up alongside Alex Karev. We have been frustrated by his limitations and we have been inspired by his growth and we have come to love him deeply and to think of him as one of our very best friends. We will miss him terribly. And we will always be grateful for his impact, on our show, on our hearts, on our fans, on the world.”
Though Camilla Luddington, who plays Karev’s soon-to-be-ex-wife, Jo, on the series, has yet to release an official statement, co-star Ellen Pompeo (the titular Meredith Grey) called the exit the “best possible storyline” before reuniting with former castmate T.R. Knight.
Whether or not the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital (or the fans) would be happy to see Karev again after all this remains to be seen…