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Jesse Williams Leaves 'Grey's Anatomy' after 12 Seasons

Junie Sihlangu
May 07, 2021
11:50 A.M.
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Jesse Williams has been with “Grey’s Anatomy” for so long that it wasn’t expected that he’d ever leave. A recent episode revealed the impending departure of the actor’s character.


“Grey’s Anatomy” fans, brace yourselves because longtime star Jesse Williams is set to leave the show soon. According to “Deadline,” he will be leaving after starring in the series for twelve seasons.

Williams’ character, Jackson Avery’s exit from the ABC medical drama was revealed in the recent episode titled “Look Up Child.” May 20, 2021, will be the actor’s last episode named “Tradition.”

Jesse Williams at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images


While speaking to “Deadline,” showrunner and executive producer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Krista Vernoff spoke highly of Williams. Vernoff described the actor as an extraordinary activist and artist, adding:

“Watching his evolution these past 11 years both on screen and off has been a true gift.”


The executive producer also shared how the star had brought care, heart, and intelligence to his work. She also confessed that Williams would be missed along with the character he’d played.

“Grey’s Anatomy” writers and Vernoff had to have long conversations about removing Williams’ character from the show. They wanted to make sure that the ending would please fans.


Ultimately, they decided to bring back actress Sarah Drew as April Kepner (exited in season 14). As fans know, Kepner and Avery (who was dating Jo Wilson) were some of the show’s most popular couples known as “Japril.”

Williams’ two-year contract with the show is coming up at the end of season 17. The series hasn’t been renewed for the next season; however, the actor said he didn’t think it would end anytime soon.


The show is currently working on closing deals with James Pickens Jr., Ellen Pompeo, and Chandra Wilson. Williams became a recurring star on the series when he joined them in season 6.

In his personal life, Jesse Williams has been having a child custody battle with his ex-wife, Aryn Drake-Lee.

For the next season, the actor was made a series regular and quickly became a fan favorite. His role as Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital’s Avery was so good that he earned himself an NAACP Image Award.


Speaking to “Deadline” about leaving, Williams said: “I will forever be grateful for the boundless opportunities provided me by Shonda [Rhimes]….” He also thanked the network, his castmates, the studio, and the crew.

In his personal life, Williams has been having a child custody battle with his ex-wife, Aryn Drake-Lee. Last month, the pair were ordered to participate in an online program for “high conflict” parents to resolve their issues.