Here's Why Jesse Williams Is Saying Goodbye to 'Grey's Anatomy'

Gina Vaynshteyn - Author

May 20 2021, Published 6:35 p.m. ET

Jesse Williams and Sarah Drew 'Grey's Anatomy'
Source: ABC

Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Season 17 of Grey's Anatomy.

Season 17 of Grey's Anatomy has been quite the roller coaster, with the latest giant twist being that Jesse Williams, who plays Jackson Avery, is saying his goodbyes. Many thought the show would set the stage for an epic #Japril reunion, which happened — but not for the reasons we thought it would. It was revealed in "Look Up Child" that Jackson will be making his exit. He'll be moving to Boston, so he can pivot his career to align more with healthcare equity. And April and Harriet will be following him.

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“I’m not running from something. I’m running to something, trying to make something of my own,” Jackson says in the episode, adding, "I have the opportunity to make it all." Jackson has always been a champion for healthcare for all, so this career move is totally in line with his character. According to Deadline, Jesse Williams' last episode on Grey's Anatomy will be on May 20, an episode titled "Tradition." 

Jackson and his child on 'Grey's Anatomy'
Source: ABC
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Another bombshell? April and her husband Matthew have split. Does this mean that Jackson and April really are endgame? It looks that way. It seems that April and Jackson will be riding off into the sunset in the upcoming episode, but why is Jesse leaving in the first place?

Why is Jesse Williams leaving 'Grey's Anatomy'?

Jesse is leaving Grey's Anatomy because his current two-year contract (which only goes until Season 17) wasn't renewed. Although we now know that Grey's Anatomy is not ending as fans had believed, he opted not to continue into Season 18. His contract also pared down the actor's involvement with the show in Season 17, since Jesse was preparing for his role in Broadway's Take Me Out (it was meant to open April 2, 2020, but it's now opening early 2022). His exit was likely planned long ago.

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Jesse is also in two upcoming films: Marked Man and Team Joy, both in pre-production, per IMDb. So, we'll be getting a lot of Jesse soon!

Jackson and April on 'Grey's Anatomy'
Source: ABC
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And there are likely no hard feelings between Jesse and the producers and writers of Grey's Anatomy. Jesse released a statement to Deadline, saying, "I will forever be grateful for the boundless opportunities provided me by Shonda, the network, studio, fellow castmates, our incredible crew, Krista, Ellen, and Debbie. 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,” he concluded.

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Jackson on 'Grey's'
Source: ABC

“Jesse brings so much heart, such depth of care, and so much intelligence to his work,” showrunner Krista Vernoff told Deadline. She added, “We will miss Jesse terribly and we will miss Jackson Avery — played to perfection for so many years.”

Luckily, it does seem that Jesse is leaving on good terms, so hopefully, we'll see Jackson and April pop into a feature episode as guest stars.

Catch Jesse's last episode, May 20 at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.

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