Justin Chambers to depart 'Grey's Anatomy' after 16 seasons

When a show that's been around for a whopping 16 seasons sees an original cast member and fan-favorite leave, it can feel like a devastating blow to fans.

Through Grey's Anatomy's 15 years on the air, the cast members and their tangled storylines have felt like family members to loyal viewers, which makes Friday's shocking news that one main actor will be departing the show all the more heartbreaking.

Justin Chambers, who plays Dr. Alex Karev on the show, will be departing from the series.

He was most recently seen on screen during the episode aired on November 14 and was the 350th episode of the series.

Chambers announced his decision in an exclusive 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. 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."

Chambers has been on the show since its premiere in 2005 where his character was introduced to viewers as a surgical intern at Seattle Grace Hospital.

He ended the series as Chief of Staff and Surgery at Pacific Northwest General Hospital.

Karev was notoriously married to Izzie Stevens (played by Katherine Heigl) and later married again to Jo Wilson (played by Camilla Luddington).

Fans were heartbroken upon hearing the news, taking it to social media to express their frustrations:

Grey's Anatomy will return on Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 9:00 p.m. ET on ABC.