"Grey's Anatomy" cast and fans were left shocked and wondering when an original cast member announced his departure from the show. Fan-favourite Justin Chambers will no longer be playing Alex Karev on the long-running medical drama. Meanwhile, Ellen Pompeo, the leading actress of the series who plays the titular role of Meredith Grey, reacted to the news and expressed her sorrow.

The shocking news came through Deadline in an exclusive report on Friday.

"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," Justin Chambers said in a statement.

Chambers, who played the role of Alex, a paediatric surgeon, for 15 full seasons, has been a part of the storyline as a major character that has run for 350 episodes, so far. In his statement, Chambers said that he is moving on from "Grey's Anatomy" and thanked the ABC family, cast and crew including Pompeo, Chandra Wilson and more.

Meanwhile, Pompeo, whose character Meredith shared a strong bond of friendship with Chambers' Alex on the series, reacted to the news briefly. Responding to a Tweet from Vanity Fair about Chambers' exit, she said: "Truer words have never been spoken" with a broken heart emoji.

The original tweet by the publication read: "#GreysAnatomy is about to feel one of its biggest losses yet."

What makes it worse that there is no exit plan for Chambers' character. According to People, Alex's final episode was the 350th episode that aired on November 14, 2019. And that stands as his final appearance in the series, for now. Hence, there will be no send-off episode for Alex, who recently tied the knot with his long-time girlfriend Jo in the sixth episode of "Grey's Anatomy" season 16.

Grey's Anatomy
ABC

With Chambers' departure, only three members of the original "Grey's Anatomy" cast are left in the series that includes Pompeo, James Pickens Jr., and Chandra Wilson. Over the years, fans had to deal with heart-breaking departures of several iconic characters such as Sandra Oh's Christina Yang, Katherine Heigl's Izzie Stevens, Patrick Dempsey's Derek Shepherd.

Currently, "Grey's Anatomy" is on a winter hiatus. Season 16 will resume its run on Thursday, January 23 and return to its original 9:00 pm slot.