In a shocking development, it has been revealed that Jesse Williams is leaving Grey’s Anatomy

The news came down after Thursday’s episode which saw the return of Sarah Drew’s April Kepner. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show had Drew return to facilitate Williams’ departure.

Williams and his character, Jackson Avery, have been an integral part of the show for years. He first debuted in the role in season 6 as a recurring cast member.  He became a series regular the next year.

“I will forever be grateful for the boundless opportunities provided me by Shonda [Rhimes], the network, studio, fellow castmates, our incredible crew, Krista [Vernoff], Ellen [Pompeo] and Debbie [Allen],” said Williams in a statement. “As an actor, director and person, I have been obscenely lucky to learn so much from so many and I thank our beautiful fans, who breathe so much energy and appreciation into our shared worlds. The experience and endurance born of creating nearly 300 hours of leading global television is a gift I’ll carry always. I am immensely proud of our work, our impact and to be moving forward with so many tools, opportunities, allies and dear friends.”

“Jesse Williams is an extraordinary artist and activist,” said showrunner Krista Vernoff. Watching his evolution these past 11 years both on-screen and off has been a true gift. Jesse brings so much heart, such depth of care, and so much intelligence to his work. We will miss Jesse terribly and we will miss Jackson Avery — played to perfection for so many years.”
Williams is the second major cast member to leave recently, following in the steps of Giacomo Gianniotti.
The actor re-upped his contract for two more seasons during his last contract renewals, committing to stay around in a more limited capacity.