Grey’s Anatomy fans fell apart when Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) left Jo Karev, née Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington) in season 16. The couple seemed like the epitome of relationship goals until suddenly, they weren’t. Now, showrunner Krista Vernoff has an update on Jo in Grey’s Anatomy Season 17. And it’s not as heartbreaking as we expected.

What happened to Alex Karev and Jo Wilson on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 16?

In the middle of Grey’s Anatomy Season 16, Alex ghosted Jo, along with everyone else at Grey Sloan Memorial. Fans speculated the worst, as many viewers believed Alex wouldn’t just pack up and leave without saying goodbye. But that’s exactly what happened.

At the start of Grey’s Anatomy Season 16 Episode 16 — titled “Leave a Light On” — Alex sent Jo, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), and Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) letters. Alex reconnected with his ex-wife, Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), when he reached out to Meredith’s colleagues for her medical license hearing. But Izzie wasn’t the only person he found.

As it turned out, Izzie used the embryos she made with Alex when she had metastatic melanoma. She gave birth to twins named Eli and Alexis. So Alex decided to leave Jo for Izzie and his children. Now, he lives on a farm in Kansas.

Meanwhile, Alex left Jo with signed divorce papers. But despite the heartbreak, Jo was able to move forward with her life as Grey’s Anatomy Season 16 continued. Jo also invited her resident, Levi Schmitt (Jake Borelli), to move in with her.  

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ showrunner explains Jo’s reaction to Alex’s exit

When “Leave a Light On” aired in April 2020, Vernoff opened up about Jo’s headspace after Alex’s shocking departure, and how the character was able to move on so quickly.

“I’ve had the experience in my life where the pain of not knowing is so much worse than a very painful truth,” the Grey’s Anatomy showrunner told TVLine. She also reminded fans Jo went numerous episodes worrying about Alex’s whereabouts. 

“Jo had imagined every possible worst-case scenario,” Vernoff continued. “Even though one of them came true, just having the information allowed her to move on. It felt like she had done a lot of grieving for the relationship in the weeks prior to receiving that letter.”

Krista Vernoff teases what will happen to Jo in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 17

Grey’s Anatomy Season 16 ended four episodes early because the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shut down production in March 2020. Then when speaking with Variety in April, Vernoff revealed the final episodes were supposed to feature “a lot of Levi-Jo comedy.” 

“I feel like Camilla has earned the right to play some lighter story,” she said. “It has always been my experience that there is a way to grieve that is dramatic, and there is a way to grieve that is largely comedic, both in life and on television. And we’ve been leaning into letting her play the comedy.”

Vernoff also hinted Jo’s storyline would remain the same when Grey’s Anatomy returned for season 17. Then in an interview with TV Insider published on Oct. 8, Vernoff confirmed the plan for Jo moving forward. She noted the character still has to pick a new last name after divorcing Alex. But ultimately, she’s going to have some lighthearted fun with Levi.

“They are delightful,” Vernoff said of Jo and Levi. “It’s an unexpected and joyful friendship. I’m glad they have each other.”

The two-hour Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 premiere airs on Nov. 12.

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