Why Jesse Williams Is Leaving 'Grey's Anatomy' As Jackson Avery

A Grey's Anatomy cast member is set to leave the long-running ABC medical drama after more than 250 episodes.

In a promo for the next episode, Dr. Jackson Avery (played by Jesse Williams) hands in his resignation and tells Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) that he is moving to Boston. This comes after a dramatic episode in which he confronted his absent father and his ex-wife Dr. April Kepner (Sarah Drew).

After Grey's Anatomy teased that Jackson was leaving in the promo, the show confirmed that Jesse Williams was leaving the cast.

In a statement, the actor said: "I will forever be grateful for the boundless opportunities provided me by Shonda [Rhimes, Grey's creator] the network, studio, fellow castmates, our incredible crew, Krista, Ellen and Debbie [Vernoff, Pompeo and Allen, Grey's Anatomy executive producers]. 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 leaving greys
Jesse Williams is leaving 'Grey's Anatomy' in the next episode. ABC

Williams has chosen to exit as his most recent two-year contract on the show comes to an end. His final episode will be Season 17, Episode 14, the next episode of the show which is coming to ABC in two weeks' time.

Williams is currently the fifth longest-serving Grey's cast member behind Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr., and Kevin McKidd. He first joined the show in Season 6, Episode 9. He is also the second main cast member to leave this year following the controversial exit of Giacomo Gianniotti as Dr. Andrew DeLuca.

As he announces his departure from Grey's, Williams already has his next set of projects lined up. He is about to make his Broadway debut in the delayed revival of Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out, which is expected to open in 2022.

He also has two upcoming movies on his IMDB page: Team Joy, a conman drama that he is also producing, and Marked Man, a movie for Amazon about a Black man who joins the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover.

The actor and activist has also moved into producing in recent years, including on the recent Oscar-winning short film Two Distant Strangers.

"Jesse Williams is an extraordinary artist and activist. Watching his evolution these past 11 years both on screen and off has been a true gift," Krista Vernoff said in a statement. "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."

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. CT on ABC. All episodes of Season 17 so far are streaming now on ABC and Hulu, while previous seasons are streaming on Netflix.