Why Grey's Anatomy couldn't have killed off Alex Karev
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Thursday’s episode of Grey's Anatomy.
Let's get one thing out of the way: Alex Karev's exit from Grey's Anatomy was crazier than Rebecca Pope. He suddenly reunites with Izzie who secretly had his kids five years ago?! It was a stretch, even for Grey's, though admittedly not nearly as far-fetched as ghost sex. But, here's what we need to remember: The Grey's Anatomy writers were faced with a daunting task when Justin Chambers announced his exit and revealed he would not be returning to the series to film a final scene, much less a final episode. (In the end, he lent his voice to the hour, but that was it.)
And that means that the writers had to craft a fitting ending for a character that'd been there since day one. A character fans loved. A character fans watched grow. Alex had come a long way from his days spent posting half-naked pictures of Izzie all over the locker room. He hadn't been "Evil Spawn" in quite some time. So, the writers had a choice to make. Or rather, they had many choices to make, but the biggest one was: Do we kill Alex? In the end, they decided the answer to that question was no. And here's why I think they made the right call.
Grey's Anatomy has seen many beloved characters come and go at this point. Izzie, Cristina, and Callie all left. George, Derek, and Lexie all died. And that's just a handful of exits, some of which worked much better than others. (George's death was tragic but epic! Derek's sucked.) But with Alex, death wasn't an option for a number of reasons, the first one being that Chambers wasn't coming back to film anything, and there's a big difference between killing a character and killing a character off-screen. Can you imagine Meredith picking up her phone to find out that Alex had gotten in a car accident on the way to his mother's house? It would've left viewers feeling empty and angry. That's not a proper end to a character.
Then you have to look at the relationships Alex has built and built recently. He and Jo just tied the knot officially! He's Meredith's person! When you look at everything Jo went through in the past season and a half, and everything Meredith has gone through for the past 16 seasons, watching them mourn Alex would've been too much. There are some things that are simply too dark, even for Grey's Anatomy. And killing Alex Karev would've been too dark.
Is giving Alex some weird happily-ever-after on a farm the answer? Probably not. But I do know that letting Alex live was the right call.