Grey's Anatomy boss speaks out after fans react angrily to Alex Karev exit storyline
The manner of the popular character's departure has been heavily criticised on social media **CONTAINS SPOILERS**
Grey's Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff has had her say on the controversial manner of Alex Karev's exit from the hit series.
Many viewers were left unhappy with the popular character's departure last night – with hordes of fans taking to social media to express their disappointment.
Karev (James Chambers), who had been part of the main cast for all 16 of the show's series, made his last appearance back in November - but it was in last night's episode that his exit was properly addressed, and finalised.
It turns out that he had decided to re-connect with his ex-wife Izzie (played by Katherine Heigl until 2010) while he was looking after his mother back home in Iowa, and would therefore not be returning to Seattle and his wife Jo (Camilla Luddington).
In the episode, we hear Chambers voice letters Karev had written to Jo, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) and Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) explaining the situation.
Some fans were furious with the way that the show had handled his departure, claiming the exit undid years of character development.
One fan wrote on Twitter, "I’m going to forget I ever saw this episode and just tell myself that Alex died."
Another wrote, "I stayed after Cristina left. I defended the decision to kill Derrick off when he left the show. I've stayed through many questionable seasons. But this?"
And a third viewer opined, "Just ignoring the end that they gave to Alex Karev. It’s so unfair. Years and years of developing for nothing. He would never leave Jo or Meredith like this. That’s not the Karev that I used to know."
And now Vernoff has had her say, claiming that it was "nearly impossible to say goodbye" to the character.
"That is as true for me and for all of the writers at Grey’s Anatomy as it is for the fans," she wrote on Twitter. "We have loved writing Alex. And we have loved watching Justin Chambers’ nuanced portrayal of him.
"For 16 seasons, 16 years, we have grown up alongside Alex Karev,” she added. “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.”
Chambers announced that he would be leaving the show back in January, saying that he was taking a break from acting to focus on his mental health.
Grey's Anatomy Season 16 will air on Sky Witness in the UK