Explainers

Alex Karev on Grey’s Anatomy: Why didn’t this OG character die and will he come back?

Alex Karev on Grey's Anatomy
Alex Karev was one of the original residents on Grey’s Anatomy. Pic credit: ABC

On Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) keeps going in and out of a COVID-19-induced dream. During those dreams, the title character of this ABC show has run into two very important people in her life.

Because she is briefly reunited with her dead husband Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and her dead friend George (T.R. Knight), fans wonder if Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) will be next?

Alex Karev has been on Grey’s Anatomy since day one

After all, this OG character had been with Mer since the beginning. He was on Grey’s Anatomy for 15 years until his quick exit during Season 16.

The fellow who colleagues called so many nasty names — including Evil Spawn, Dr. Frankenstein, Pig Boy, and Dr. Doucheface — did one last nasty thing: He ghosted his wife Jo (Camilla Luddington) to return to his ex-wife Izzie (Katherine Heigl).

Apparently, Izzie had survived metastatic breast cancer and was currently living in Kansas on a farm with the twins she conceived with Alex’s sperm.

Surprise! Alex had become a dad, and he only found out about his kids’ existence because he contacted Izzie during Meredith’s trial so she could vouch for her fellow resident’s fine qualities.

Why did Grey’s Anatomy writers keep Alex alive?

Given Alex was such a devious character, why didn’t the Grey’s Anatomy powers-that-be kill him off rather than give him a super happy ending?

Showrunner Krista Vernoff answered that burning question when she spoke to Variety a couple of months ago.

“I didn’t want to put the characters through another sustained grief [after taking on Jo’s major depression],” she stated, adding “that was probably the more significant thing.”

She also said she did not want to see Mer “lose Alex Karev to death. I don’t want to see it! I can’t take it!”

The showrunner went on to explain how grief can get to an actor.

“When you have to play sustained grief for episode after episode after episode — I’ve never met an actor who didn’t go into their own personal depression because they have to run those chemicals through their system,” Vernoff insisted.

Alex lived on away from Grey’s Anatomy

And so, Alex Karev lived to see another day. However, he didn’t get to see that day on Grey’s Anatomy in Seattle. Now he calls Kansas home, and apparently, he feels there’s no place like it.

But will he revisit the state of Washington at some time in the future to meet up with Mer, Jo, and the other Grey’s Anatomy characters?

Probably not. However, time — and a lot of creative scriptwriting — will tell.

Stay tuned.

ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy is currently on hiatus.

Jane Lasky


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