I just found out I’ve been ghosted. By a TV character.
Justin Chambers is leaving – correction, has left – Grey’s Anatomy after 16 years on the series. He was one of less than a handful of actors still remaining from the first episode. And now he – and alter ego, Alex Karev – are gone without even a “goodbye.”
Fans were shocked when Chambers announced in January that his last episode had already aired weeks prior in November. No notice. No fanfare.
Thus far in the new winter season, the character is still around but not on-camera. He’s visiting his mom out of town. He’s working at the other hospital. He’s just not here.
Now, I know actors can’t be expected to play the same role infinitum. They’re creative folk who need to try different things. I also know people come and go in the real world without warning. It’s just art imitating life.
But that’s why I watch TV. Because when I turn it on, I know they’ll be there. Reliably. If I wanted the real world, I’d hang out at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, not Seattle’s Grey-Sloan.
It’s not like Grey’s hasn’t had years to perfect their sign-offs. They’ve used a bomb, a bus, gunfire, regular fire, cancer, a plane crash, and even an 18-wheeler to end a character. Sure, some have moved away or gotten new jobs. But viewers were always given some kind of closure.
It’s just good manners.
CW’s Supernatural is ending after 15 seasons and every one of the 20 episodes is a nod to something that has gone before. They’ve resurrected (literally) characters and storylines. Some satisfying. Some not so much. But they’ve been recognized for their part in the Winchesters’ “road so far.”
And one episode even played around with the simplicity and ease of the TV world. The brothers’ “luck” was removed and suddenly, they had to deal with “real world” problems like paying credit card bills, getting parking tickets, having their car break down, experiencing lactose intolerance first-hand, and discovering that picking a lock isn’t as easy as it looks.
Arrow, too, has now ended with the death of its hero. The first episode of its final season was promoted as “a love letter to the fans.” That theme continued as it tied up storylines and included a much-lauded cross-over with The Flash and Supergirl. But the series finale still brought all the characters back in person or in flashback to say goodbye one last time.
NBC’s The Good Place also recently aired its final episode. In the super-sized finale, each character was given his or her own personal (and satisfying) send-off.
That’s how you say goodbye, Justin. You don’t just disappear.
We had a relationship. You gave us a good story and we kept you employed. We have limited free time and we gave it to you. Every week. So we deserve a proper goodbye from Alex.
It’s just good manners.