Grey's Anatomy: How Alex Karev Could've Been Written Out While Staying True to Character

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Grey's Fanatics were abuzz when we learned how the veteran series would write out Alex Karev, and shortly into Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 16, we learned that Alex didn't go to Iowa.

Alex lied to Jo and went to Kansas instead. He reached out to Izzie when he was looking for character references for Meredith during Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 8. While speaking to her, he caught up on old times and heard that she had children in the background.

Izzie told him that the kids he heard were his, and she used the embryos they froze years ago, and she had a set of twins. Alex wasted no time traveling to Kansas to meet his children for the first time, and he fell so in love with them (and reignited his romance with Izzie), so he decided never to come back.

Mr. Grey - Grey's Anatomy Season 13 Episode 23

After several weeks, not responding to phone calls and texts, and blowing people off, he sent a set of letters to Meredith, Jo, Bailey, and Richard explaining that he wouldn't be returning.

Alex left his life in Seattle behind for domesticated, family bliss on a farm in Kansas with Izzie and their two children.

He apologized to everyone, thanked them for their importance in his life, and served Jo divorce papers and gave her his shares to GSM.

Alex and Izzie's Twins - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 16

Alex Karev got a happy ending, but of course, it didn't come without controversy among viewers who were split on how to feel.

One of the biggest complaints about this closure for his character was fans viewing Alex's behavior as a serious character regression that undid all the development he made over the years. Many fans couldn't reconcile not only losing their favorite character but him ending on such a sour, unlikable note. 

So here are a few ways they could've wrote Alex out without it coming across like a setback for his character. 

Backing Mer- Tall  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 8

Alex Ends Up with Izzie

Contrary to popular belief, Alex ending up with Izzie as a possible conclusion wasn't outlandish, but the execution of it was what caused grief for many of us.

Alex could have told Jo the truth the moment he found out about his kids. He could have told her he was going to meet his kids. Then, from Kansas, he could've asked her to relocate so they could be close to his children.

Jo even could have taken an episode where she was away with him, and when she came back, she had to decide if she wanted to move or stay.

The Newlyweds Embrace

She could have chosen to return home and not shared what happened, and then Alex could have sent everyone their letters explaining as it played out.

Finally, with Jo's letter, he could have sent her the divorce papers, and by then said he wanted to work things out with Izzie.

Their marriage would end amicably, and Alex wouldn't have come across as some jerk who abandoned his wife. Jo would understand his position, and she would've been the woman who didn't want to give up her budding career, and it would've been a bittersweet conclusion.

Fun Bed Time - Tall  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 4

Alex and Izzie as an endgame would still happen but without all of the cheating, lying, infidelity, and otherwise out of character behavior that made people rage out.

Alex Joins Doctors Without Borders

New Chief, New Hospital  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 2

He's been missing some excitement in his life, and if an opportunity presented itself, he would jump on it. He was known to be passionate about some affairs, and it would have been a fresh start for him.

He wouldn't have bailed on his wife and friends. It would be in line with who he is as a character. They could've continued referencing him and mentioning texts and video calls.

Alex Ran Pac-North or Got Another Job in Seattle or Elsewhere

His Life Now - tall - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 6

In hindsight, the Pac- North storyline didn't actually give Alex much to do, which means it went on the long list of basic Alex storylines he suffered through for multiple seasons.

But Alex didn't have to leave Pac North, or if the inevitable merger still happened, he could've refused the co-chief situation and took a position at another hospital.

Hell, maybe in another city!

He and Jo would have a long-distance relationship that may or may not survive, but Alex the ass would be nowhere to be found.

Alex Had to Find Himself or Needed a Break

Unemployed Alex - Tall - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 1

It's no secret that he spent an extraordinary amount of time being protective of the people he loves and taking care of them.

He lost his job sticking by Mer, and he saw Jo through a deep depression. It's reasonable that he would need some rest and relaxation too. Who takes care of the caretaker?

He could've communicated this with the people he loved offscreen or via text, letter, pigeon carrier, and what have you. And eventually, if he decided to go back to work at another hospital, or pursue other passions offscreen, then so be it.

Alex Leaves to Help Arizona

Rebounding - Grey's Anatomy Season 14 Episode 2

Callie and Arizona are happy in New York, but maybe she and Callie decide to have another kid, and she wants to go on maternity leave, or she takes personal time off, or she requires extra help. So Arizona contacts her protege and needs a hand at her new hospital.

Alex would come running if Arizona needed him. He would be across the country working, but he and Jo could maintain a long-distance relationship until it stops working. Mer would talk to her friend regularly, and Zola would get to face time with her uncle.

Alex Dies on his Way to Kansas (or Iowa)

Scoping Things Out - Grey's Anatomy Season 14 Episode 7

No one wanted to see Alex Karev die. Too many characters have already met a horrible fate, but death happens. Maybe he got into a car accident or something while on his way to see his mom or Izzie.

Maybe his travel plans fell through, or something dastardly happened that kept him from getting there. Maybe he died suddenly of natural causes. 

It was not the ideal solution as no one wants to see their favorite character pass away, but it was always on the table for a show like this. 

Alex is Just Missing

Marital Bliss - Tall  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 4

It could have been interesting if even the characters didn't find out what happened to him. What if he went missing, and there was an investigation but not much information to go on?

Everyone could go through the motions of whether they thought he left, or maybe he died, or any number of things. Maybe he ended up having a nervous breakdown and ended up homeless and out of it somewhere.

Alex Has a Mental Breakdown

Grey's- mer, alex, maggie

It's dark, and it isn't pretty or happy, but it also would've been a possibility that didn't destroy everything we knew of him either. He had an ongoing fear of mental illness and his history with it.

After dealing with Jo's dark depression, maybe it caught up to him too, and he wrote letters to everyone and left because he didn't want the people he lived to see him in that state or deal with the things he endured growing up.

Alex Heads a Pediatrics Program in Africa

The Man to Help

Alex happened to get stuck with Pac-North after everything that happened with Meredith, but it would've been better if he chose to do something he was passionate about instead of going through the motions.

Alex jumping on an opportunity to run a program similar to the one he developed in Africa somewhere would be incredible. It's something that would make him happen, renew his love for his job, which is something that he lost at Pac-North, and it would've been a happy ending for him.

Whether or not he or Jo remained together is up to them, but in the end, the focus would've been on his character, achievements, and his passion for his craft instead of "ship drama."

Alex Makes Amends with His Siblings

Momma's Surprise Visit - Grey's Anatomy Season 15 Episode 15

He managed to reconnect with his mother, but what if he went offscreen and did something similar with the siblings he left behind?

He has a complicated relationship with family and what it means. It wouldn't be too out of character if the combination of Jo's journey with her birth mother, the reappearance of his mother, and the distance from his Grey Sloan family drove him to think about the siblings he had and their well-being.

All of these suggestions could've still happened offscreen, or they could have taken the same approach with clips, flashbacks, and voiceovers, and letters.

Over to you, Grey's Fanatics. Do you have any suggestions for how they wrote Alex out of the series? If so, hit the comments below.

You can watch Grey's Anatomy online here via TV Fanatic. 

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Grey's Anatomy Quotes

MEREDITH: "You don't get to call me a whore. When I met you, I thought I had found the person that I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I was done! All the boys and all the bars and all the obvious daddy issues, who cares? I was done. You left me. You chose Addison. I'm all glued back together now. I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what you broke. You don't get to call me a whore."
DEREK: "This thing with us is finished. It's over."
MEREDITH: "Finally."
DEREK: "Yeah, it's done."
MEREDITH: "It is done."

Arizona: Oh my God! I mean, I understand why you're into her. She's hot. Wait, she likes you?
Nathan: What? I mean, I'm going to try not to be offended at that.
Arizona: No, no, no. It's just that Derek was, Derek was epic for her. They were the great love story. I mean, that girl's heart beat for Derek Shepherd. It just, it never occurred to me that she would ever be with anyone else. He was perfect. He was everything. That man turned her world. It, I spooked you. Don't be spooked.