Grey's fans took to Twitter to express anger and grief over the shocking way Karev was written out, with some fans threatening to quit watching the show. "But," says Samantha Highfill, "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, Highfill says the Grey's writers made the right call because "Chambers wasn't coming back to film anything." What ended up happening in Thursday's episode, Highfill says, was better than the alternative. Meanwhile, Grey's showrunner Krista Vernoff issued a statement on Chambers and Karev following Thursday's episode. “It is nearly impossible to say goodbye to Alex Karev," Vernoff wrote. "That is as true for me and for all of the writers at Grey’s Anatomy as it is for the fans. We have loved writing Alex. And we have loved watching Justin Chambers’ nuanced portrayal of him. For 16 seasons, 16 years, we have grown up alongside Alex Karev. We have been frustrated by his limitations and we have been inspired by his growth and we have come to love him deeply and to think of him as one of our very best friends. We will miss him terribly. And we will always be grateful for his impact, on our show, on our hearts, on our fans, on the world."