Grey's Anatomy Derek Death

Grey's Anatomy Killing McDreamy Was a 'Difficult Decision,' Says ABC Boss

Killing off original Grey’s Anatomy cast member Patrick Dempsey‘s Dr. Derek Shepherd was “a difficult decision,” ABC president Paul Lee affirmed Tuesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills.

Lee intimated that the parting of the ways was at least in part driven by Dempsey’s passion for race car driving, saying: “He has lots of interests outside [of Grey’s Anatomy].”

Reflecting on the, um, passionate reaction to Derek’s death, Lee raved, “It was great to see Grey’s Anatomy so relevant.” And looking forward, “We’ve seen the pitch for next season and the show reinvents itself again. [Shonda Rhimes] really is a remarkable showrunner. We have no reason to expect that Grey’s Anatomy will not go on for many, many years to come.”

Dempsey’s character of course was surprisingly killed off toward the end of Season 11, in the April 23 episode, when Derek — after having saved some lives at the scene of a roadside car accident — got Michael Vaughn’d by a semi, and ultimately perished from his injuries. That episode drew Season 11’s second-best numbers (9.5 million viewers and a 2.8 demo rating), but by finale time the show had slipped 13 and 21 percent.

Immediately after the jaw-dropping episode aired, Rhimes shared, “Derek Shepherd is and will always be an incredibly important character — for Meredith, for me and for the fans. I absolutely never imagined saying goodbye to our ‘McDreamy.'” ABC in turn issued a statement saying, “Dr. Derek Shepherd is an iconic character and we’ve been proud to be the home of ‘McDreamy’ and the ‘Mer/Der’ love story.”

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55 Comments
  1. Mr. Tran K says:

    Wonder if people are going to give up watching Grey’s Anatomy before the new season begins and its first post-McDreamy less year.

    • Chris says:

      Derek being dead (and Patrick Dempsey no longer being on the show) has actually got me excited for next season. The character was such a drag and Meredith has always been a more interesting character outside of the MerDer relationship.

      • T.W.123 says:

        I agree with you, Chris!

      • Bryce says:

        For real!! Just like Cristina leaving settled annoying, seasons-long tensions between her and Owen, Derek dying did the same between him and Meredith. Could they have lived happily ever after with Derek in Seattle? Sure, but it wouldn’t be true to the characters whatsoever. It would be more of a betrayal than death. Shonda & co absolutely made the right decision and did it exquisitely.

      • tvadict mom says:

        I actually think the opposite. Derek made Meredith a bearable character. Without him… I foresee another self absorbed female actor on this show

      • shera says:

        Martin Henderson will be a new love interest for Meredith…so why she killed Derek if they remplace him by an another man ?

        • anoninga says:

          I saw a pic of martin henderson without my glasses on and from a distance he looks like Patrick. Meredith needs a love interest but at a cheaper price tag than Dempsey’s Derek.

      • belle says:

        Meredith has always been a nasty person. She always wanted Derek to give, give, give. He deserved better.

        • abz says:

          Guess you must’ve missed the part where she made sacrifices in her career advancement for the sake of his. Do you remember how he never even gave her credit for their research a few years ago and there was no mention of her involvement? He did not deserve better. He was a good guy deep down, but he was also very selfish at times and he wasn’t this saint character that everyone thinks he was now that he’s dead. Their marriage had serious issues they needed to deal with. Derek’s career always came before Meredith’s in his mind and when she finally started fighting back and wanting something for herself, their problems reached the surface and created tension. She wanted him to “give, give, give”, but she continued “cave, cave, cave”. He ended up going to Washington after all, only realizing too late that he wanted to be with his family after all.

    • cej says:

      I quit watching immediately after they killed Derek. That was a horrible thing to do to the character and to Mer and Der as a couple.

      • Patrick says:

        I’ll translate the ABC boss’s comments into real life actual meaning:
        We at the network absolutely did not want to kill Derek. Shonda pitched fit, and she’s so powerful at our network that we eventually caved in to her demand to kill off Derek. We knew the fan reaction would be bad, but we had no idea how bad. Please forgive us and watch the show anyways. We promise it will not be that bad going forward. I mean, we all know it is going to be dumpster fire bad, but it will be as not horrible as we can make it. GA is a huge moneymaker for us, and we don’t want it to die. Please please please forgive the network. Shonda is crazy, but she has us by the short and curlies, so what can we do? Again, so sorry, please keep watching.

        • cej says:

          LOL! Love it! Yes, I don’t put much credence in the network saying it’s really going to be great!

        • Whatevah says:

          Very true..

        • Does nobody pay attention to what Patrick Dempsey does outside of acting? He’s now slated to be in the Porsche Cup. Along with his podium at Le Mans this year, it’s clear being able to focus on training has helped his racing career. You can’t train for racing and be in a television series. The schedules for training and the racing events overlap too much with filming schedules.

          But I guess people love the gossipy conspiracy theory far more than something so mundane as an actor having something else he’d like to do more than play the same character for yet another season.

        • Bryce says:

          100% not what happened. Just a story you made up to demonize a successful woman.

          • If it quacks like a duck….the proof is in the show’s track record. Every time an actor pissed the Queen off, she kills them off so that there is NO CHANCE of a return. Shonda throws them under the bus…in TR Knight’s case, she LITERALLY threw his character under the bus, Grey Sloan Mercy Death is the only hospital where the surgeon death toll out numbers the patient’s.

        • :) says:

          I read his statement as we know some of you are but hurt but you’ll be OK. With what we aaved in sexual harassment lawsuits from Dempsey ‘s midlife crisis coupled with the salary we don’t have to pay and our 8pm Thursday show has sucked for years even with reduced numbers this show is still a gold mind. Syndication alone makes me sing

        • lorna says:

          Agreed. Within 5 years, all of Shondas shows will be off the air.

      • Pamela says:

        Same here, I just read the tvline.com recaps to see what happened.

  2. Jessica says:

    Patrick leaving or not. His last episode should’ve been much much better, it was cruel and crappy. The aftermath even more.

    • Demi says:

      This was my issue with the leaving. I don’t mind him moving on but that episode was sloppy, not well written and knowing it’s from Shonda Rhimes makes it worse because you knw she can do better.

      • Jessica says:

        It was like. ”you want to leave? fine” here’s your FU for 11 years. And killing him in a Porsche, the car Patrick is so passionate about, and dying alone. Was awful.

        • cej says:

          And to have Meredith pull the plug without letting any other family come to say goodbye. Awful!

        • Patrick says:

          It wasn’t his idea. Lots of people are saying this. Patrick hasn’t said it. There were some behind the scenes shenanigans of an amorous nature, which mostly meant that Patrick didn’t adhere to Shonda’s apparently strict moral code. Lots of people are trying to put lipstick on a very unpopular pig. Everyone at the net is saying it was Patrick’s wish to be let out of his contract, but that is just them trying to appease a fan base. If it wasn’t his idea, then fans might be angry enough not to watch. Some will still watch. But plenty won’t. If enough don’t watch, the show will die after this year because it will be too expensive to continue in the face of declining ratings.

          • Demi says:

            I just want a lifetime movie/documentary about the BTS drama and also the show may not go down in ratings that much because most people will still watch out of habit or because they’ve invested 10yrs into it but am so petty as hell that I just want it offscreen.

    • Dead on, That was the worst death on this show to date. It seemed choppy and hastily thrown together at the last minute. To have a core character die alone without the rest of his peers fighting to save him (like George had, for example) was the pits. Amelia annoys the piss out of me on a weekly basis, but she was dead on when she laid into Meredith for not contacting anyone to say goodbye before she pulled the plug. It was an awful episode. Dempsey deserved better.

  3. Fan47 says:

    Nice Alias call-back there with the Michael Vaughn reference ;)

  4. Laura says:

    Props on the Michael Vaughn mention!

  5. Steven says:

    “got Michael Vaughn’d by a semi”

    Gotta love a good Alias reference!

  6. cej says:

    Still not watching.

  7. LaurenMC says:

    Whatever. Neither myself nor any of my friends will be tuning in to the new season after this mess. They went too far this time – there are only so many characters you can murder on a show before fans tune out, and killing off McDreamy was the last straw. Sad that the epic Mer-Der love story came to such a depressing, ridiculous end.

  8. Eran says:

    Oh for the love of God, now this is going to send all the McDreamy mourners right back into Shiva-Jihad mode… excited and looking forward to season 12 here.

  9. ame says:

    I haven’t even watched a commercial for that show since that hot mess.

  10. thisismenow says:

    In before McDreamy’s death was a dream and Season 12 never happened.

    • thisismenow says:

      By season 12 I mean the forthcoming season when Patrick decides to come back in Season 13.

      • Patrick says:

        They might try this by Christmas. I think the ratings will take a slight decrease out of the gate, but will then nosedive. Like, yank it off the air mid show bad. During the fall hiatus, I think a lot of network suits are going to be yelling possible solutions at Shonda. However, this might get Izzy back. All parties will be desperate enough by late November to make this happen.

        • Jessica says:

          I truly doubt Izzie will be much of a big deal, she will only serves for some drama for Jolex, for an episode or two, I doubt the many Derek/ MerDer shippers who stopped watching will care if she came back or not to tune in.

          • Patrick says:

            Some who tuned out years ago will come back. Izzie might be up for a season long gig, or longer. Shonda won’t like having her back, but if the ratings decrease she might not have a choice in the matter.

          • abz says:

            Yeah, plus the heavy promotion for an Izzie return might be good for the show too. Many people who stopped watching might be intrigued to check things out again and many threatening to leave because of Derek, might still be curious enough to see how they bring her back. Regardless of people’s feelings about Heigl, Izzie was one of the best characters in the early seasons of the show IMO.

          • Patrick says:

            Izzie and Alex were great. I personally tuned out just after she left. Not because of that (grad school demands led to several cuts). I would tune back in to see how they brought her back.

        • Izzy or Christina. Advertising the return of Sandra Oh might get this show off life support

  11. spindae2 says:

    I can’t lie I was heartbroken when I heard about Derek dying. Didn’t watch the last 4 eps till last week and they were good.

    I’ll watch the start of the season and if it feels right I’ll stick with it.

  12. Anna says:

    The show will be just fine. The comments that it will be taken off the air mid-season are hysterical.

  13. abz says:

    There were many issues I had with Derek’s departure and the way it was handled, however, I’m sticking with Grey’s till the end. It’s hard to quit a show you’ve invested that much time watching for 11 seasons. I want to see how it plays out and how the series ends. I hope Cristina and Izzie can return to the show at some point as well. Also, I really don’t need to see Meredith move on with that new male lead yet. A year may have passed in the show’s timeline, but it’s still fresh for viewers. Meredith needs more time to accept things and to focus on keeping herself well and caring for her children.

  14. kix2mix2 says:

    Still not over it :(.

  15. Kay says:

    Love the Michael Vaughn reference!

    Personally, I’m in it to the end. We’ve come too far to give up on the show now. I have a feeling that even if, ten years from now, the entire original cast is gone, I’ll still be a loyal viewer. I trust Shonda to keep the show interesting and relevant no matter what.

  16. 'Lesley Ford says:

    Shonda Rhimes had a bee up her butt about Patrick Dempsey and this was her payback. She doesn’t give a damn about the fans. So now, I don’t give a damn about GA.

  17. BrianR says:

    Depends on the new shows it runs against.

  18. aph1976 says:

    As much as i’ll miss Derek i think killing him was the only way to write the character off because he was never going to leave Meredith and their kids.Plus the show i think did everything they could with Derek and Meredith over the years and they were stuck with them in a way.So now that Derek is dead Meredith is sort of free storywise where she could go in a lot of directions.

  19. kmw says:

    Even if his death was necessary Grey’s ( and I mean Shonda) handled it badly. He deserved better than the episode he got

    • :) says:

      I thought it was a strong episode. I laughed i cried i screamed. I haven’t acted like that since George met Izzie at the elevator

  20. Gigi says:

    Meredith has always been my least favorite character. Unless there are good subplots, I won’t be watching.

  21. Allison says:

    I know there are people that will never get over the feeling of betrayal and heartbreak of the death of “McDreamy” but I have to see this thing through to the end. It hurt deeply when Derek died and I was in shock that night and the next day, but then I got over it. I am looking forward to what will happen next for and to the others on GA. One thing this show has always managed to do is stay afloat. It has been written off many times, but each time it still manages to make it to shore. I haven’t given up yet. I am hurt. I am disappointed. Nevertheless, I will be watching.

  22. Milly says:

    Grey’s Anatomy has become boring. There is no excitement, no passion, no true love, like Derek and Grey, even if it is a just a show, but it gave us the viewers something to look foward to. I tried to keep watching after Derek’s death, but it was so boring. The show needs to kick into 5th gear with strong story lines, give Grey a new love, stop breaking up every couple. Kepner and Avery should’ve had another child. Most of the charcters have lost their spark. Bring the show back stronger than before, maybe then i will start to watch it again, and so will many other viewers that use to be faithful viewers.