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.”