Jake Wood will leave EastEnders when his contract comes to an end, the soap has confirmed.
The actor, who has played Max Branning for more than 15 years, will exit in a big storyline that will see his character leave Walford.
Show bosses will not kill his character off so there is the possibility Max can return to Albert Square.
Wood said: “I’ve had 15 wonderful years at EastEnders and have made some truly great friends.
“I’ll of course miss everyone there but I’m grateful they have left the door open for Max and I’m excited to see what the next chapter holds.”
Jon Sen, executive producer, added: “Jake is a truly wonderful actor and EastEnders have been extremely lucky to have him for so long.
“We have a big storyline for Max that starts in the coming weeks and we are all very excited to see that play out.”
A soap source added: “Sometimes in soap land big characters have to leave. Bosses are staying tight lipped about what they have planned for Max but considering he has played a major part in the show for over 15 years they are clearly planning something big and he will not be departing Walford quietly.
“Everyone will be sad to see Jake go as he is not only a great person to have on set but he’s also a fantastic actor.”