Alex Karev’s Journey Throughout ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

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Alex Karev

Every now and then I would hear about Grey’s Anatomy and all the complicated relationships that its characters had with one another. I’d also hear about the amount of death that happened on the show, whether it was the patients or its central characters. That said, the show never captured my attention, mostly because I was a huge fan of Scrubs and preemptively decided that it was the better show of the two. It wasn’t until my last semester in college that I decided to give the show a try. Little did I know how quickly I would love the show and its characters. What’s even more surprising is that out of all the characters that have appeared throughout the 16 seasons of the show, Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) would end up being my favorite.

Alex Karev started out as an overconfident medical intern who wasn’t afraid to show just how confident he really was. Whether it was constantly hitting on several nurses and doctors or constantly bullying George (T.R. Knight), Karev was the perfect character to automatically hate. Karev remained the same until the fifth episode of season two, “Bring the Pain,” where he was put in a dangerous medical situation. Unable to get himself to do a procedure on a patient while trapped in an elevator with George, Alex watched as George rise up to the occasion. While I was delighted to see him being put in his place, I also felt sorry for Alex. That overconfident nature put him in a dangerous situation but it also showed just how much he needed to grow as a doctor.

Shortly after this, Alex Karev embarked on his complicated relationship with his colleague, Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl). They were the “on-again, off-again” couple of the show, which ended up being a bit annoying. Whether it was Karev not being able to stay loyal or Izzie falling in love with a patient, the couple was doomed from the start. Things didn’t get much better even after spending some time apart and getting back together. They ended up getting married at the end of season five, but only because of Izzie’s cancer diagnosis. I never believed that they were ever truly in love, mainly because I didn’t think that the actors had any real chemistry. Their marriage was over before it really began, but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Alex. His entire relationship with Izzie caused him pain. It took real strength for him to realize that she wasn’t the person he was meant to be with, even though he could have easily gotten back with her.

Alex Karev

After Izzie’s departure from the show, Karev was taken under Arizona Robbin’s (Jessica Capshaw) wing in the field of pediatric surgery. It was weird to see Karev, someone who was once the ideal character to root against, was now learning to save children’s lives. One of the most valuable lessons that Arizona taught Alex was that he will have to advocate for the kids he treats because no one else would. He became an excellent advocate for his patients, including going above and beyond in bringing several sick kids from Africa to be treated at Seattle Grace. Even though he did this as a way to get ahead in the race for the Chief Resident position, it showed me that he truly did care for kids and had what it takes to be an incredible peds attending.

One of the most compelling aspects of Karev’s character was the relationship that he had with his family. It isn’t until a few seasons into the show that we learn that he practically raised his siblings by himself. His mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and his father walked out on his family. He ended up in the foster care system and even did some time in juvenile detention centers. It would have been easy for a kid like Alex to have gotten lost along the way and be forgotten by the world. The fact that he went through so much all on his own while also being forced to parent his siblings made me want to root for him. He didn’t let his troubled past get in the way of becoming a great pediatric surgeon. It’s no wonder why he became such a strong advocate for kids.

Season nine was where Alex Karev found the woman that he would eventually marry, Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington). Though they started off as just friends, it was only a matter of time before a romance blossomed between the two. Both Alex and Jo had gone through so much pain growing up, which brought them closer together. I’m normally not a fan of the trope where two broken characters in either a film or TV show belong together, but they were so much more than that. The chemistry between the two actors was incredible. I thoroughly believed that Alex and Jo were in love with one another. However, I’ll be honest to admit that my feelings about Jo may be biased since I loved her work in the new Tomb Raider video game series. They went through so much while being together, but they always found a way back to one another. Besides Arizona and Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez), Alex and Jo quickly became one of my favorite couples on the show.

Alex Karev

It wasn’t until Christina Yang (Sandra Oh) left for Switzerland that Alex and Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) became best friends. Throughout most of the show, Meredith considered Christina as her “person,” a term meant to represent the fact that they were more than best friends. However, Merideth got closer to Alex after her friend left to pursue her dream to be an even better cardiothoracic surgeon. If you had told me after season one that Alex and Merideth would end up being best friends, I wouldn’t have believed it. However, the two had been through so much that it would’ve been strange for them to not have been friends. Alex learned a lot from Merideth while she had him as a support system through troubling times.

Earlier this year it was announced that Justin Chambers would be leaving Grey’s Anatomy. It was quite shocking, especially since his last appearance on the show had already aired without notice. There were many theories as to how his departure would be handled on the show, some much more darker than others. However, I would’ve never imagined that he would end up reuniting with Izzie and once again falling in love with her. On top of that, the shocking revelation that Izzie had given birth to Alex’s kids and raised them on her own was too much for me to handle.

Perhaps it was because this meant that Alex had left Jo only to go back to the woman he was once married to. Or perhaps it was because Alex had gone back to the woman who hurt him the most by walking away from their marriage. Regardless, adding the fact that they had children is the only way I would have imagined for Alex to had gone back to Izzie. He grew up without either of his parents ever being there for him and didn’t want his own children to go through similar experiences. The extensive character development that Karev had gone through throughout 16 seasons culminated in this one moment. While I am sad to see my favorite character from Grey’s Anatomy depart from the show, I’ll always be grateful to have seen Alex Karev’s incredible character development throughout the series.