Jesse Williams is leaving "Grey's Anatomy" after 11 years.
The 40-year-old actor has announced his character Dr Jackson Avery is
officially retiring from Seattle Grace Hospital, after it was revealed on the latest episode of the hit ABC medical drama titled "Look Up Child".
In a statement to E! News, Williams said: "I will forever be grateful for the boundless opportunities provided me by Shonda [Rhimes], the network, studio, fellow cast mates, our incredible crew, Krista, Ellen and Debbie [Allen]. 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."
Williams will be back for one final time on May 20 for the "Tradition" episode.
Executive producer and showrunner Krista Vernoff hailed Williams for playing plastic surgeon Dr Avery "to perfection for so many years".
She commented: "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.
"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."
Williams' exit comes after Giacomo Giannotti's alter ego Andrew DeLuca was killed off.
The on/off boyfriend of Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) was fatally stabbed in a heartbreaking scene.
Giannotti joined the show in 2014 and quickly became a fan favourite.
• Grey's Anatomy screens in NZ express from the US on TVNZ OnDemand.