By Nick Romano
July 20, 2019 at 04:27 PM EDT
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Supergirl season 5 will be a “bittersweet” one for Mehcad Brooks, the actor told EW during San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday.

The new episodes, debuting later this year, will mark Brooks’ departure from the CW superhero series to go work on something he says is “really near and dear to my heart.” But the exit, he promises, will be a gracious one for the character of James Olsen.

“It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be, frankly,” Brooks said at EW’s Comic-Con studio. “These people [the cast] are my family and I love them, and it’s been four years of change and the exit’s really gracious. We worked out a really gracious exit and I’m really happy about that.”

Brooks is leaving Supergirl to focus on feature films and develop a new cable series as a starring vehicle for him, EW reported Friday.

“You’re not gone forever,” star Melissa Benoist chimed in as the tone got emotional. “I won’t allow it.”

A few hours later at the Supergirl panel, the cast and crew once again got choked up addressing Brooks’ impending exit, and his legacy on the show.

Executive producer Sarah Schechter said, “I remember casting this role and casting Jimmy Olsen, and what’s so exciting is because of Mehcad I think there’s a whole generation of people that are going to grow up thinking that he is what Jimmy Olsen looks like, and he is what Jimmy Olsen stands for, and I think that’s something we’re all so proud of.”

She added, “I think it’s so exciting that we get to define who these characters are, and Mehcad just kind of exploded every boundary around who this character was and brought such strength and grace, and so we’re just so proud to have had him on the show.”

Supergirl, which already entered production for season 5, returns Sunday, Oct. 6, at 9 p.m. ET on the CW, before diving into Crisis on Infinite Earths. Starting in December, the next Arrowverse crossover event will play out across five hours and feature Legends of Tomorrow actor Brandon Routh pulling double duty as The Atom and one of two Supermen.

Watch the video above for more from the Supergirl cast.

Additional reporting by Marc Snetiker.

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Kara (Melissa Benoist) steps out from her super-cousin’s shadow to become Supergirl and defend National City in the third Arrowverse show.
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