Patrick Dempsey Shonda Rhimes

Grey's Anatomy Boss Shonda Rhimes on the Death of McDreamy: 'The Decision Was Not a Difficult One'

Shonda Rhimes has broken her (relative) silence about McDreamy-gate.

At the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, the Grey’s Anatomy creator said the decision to part ways with Patrick Dempsey “wasn’t easy or fun,” adding that “discussions” like that are “never easy or fun… We’ve been working really hard for a long time together. We’re family. Those choices and decisions are never easy for us.”

On the flipside, the decision to have Derek “die the way that he did was not a difficult one,” Rhimes admitted, “in the sense of, ‘What were the options?’ Either Derek was going to walk out on Meredith, and leave her high and dry, and what was that going to mean? That was going to suggest that the love was not true, the thing we had said for 11 years was a lie. For me, that was untenable. Meredith and Derek’s love had to remain Meredith and Derek’s love. As painful as it was for me as a storyteller… Derek would have to die in order for that love to remain honest. That was the only way to make Meredith and Derek’s magic remain true.”

Earlier in the day, ABC president Paul Lee called Dempsey’s exit a “difficult decision,” before intimating 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].”

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70 Comments
  1. Amnesia could have worked just as well, lol.

    • robandco says:

      Or they could have pulled a Ghost Whisperer and had Derek’s soul in another body.

      • lol. Well, if the goal was to write him out without invalidating the romance thing, really, amnesia could have done it. Just make him forget the last decade. Like really invasive brain surgery that saves his life at the expense of all his memories.

  2. Al says:

    It does look like this was PD’s choice to leave

    • Patrick says:

      Says Shonda, who has a vested interest in deflecting blame. She, and the net, knew this death would anger the fanbase. She had no idea how much. The ratings began to trend down, sharply, after he was gone. She’s trying to appease a fan base by saying it was Patrick’s idea. Patrick isn’t saying that. She’s lying to save her show. If it goes off the air after this season, she will lose millions of dollars. It will also remove a huge bargaining chip she has at the net. The net will start to exercise its enormous veto power to exert tremendous oversight over her every decision and script. She has maybe woken up to the fact that she made a horrible, horrible mistake. Only she can’t correct it. This is her in scramble mode.

      • Mary says:

        Do you work for the network? If it goes off the air this season, it won’t be because of her killing off McDreamy. The show is 11 years old, I am quite surprise it is still on. Patrick has stated many times he wanted to race cars full time. I think her standing with the network is just fine with the success of Scandal and HTGAWM. Lets try another theory.

      • Mara says:

        Yes! This!

        • Mara says:

          Just to be clear — I am agreeing with Patrick’s post!

          • jadensgranny says:

            Honestly I think it’s us DIEHARD fans that know what really went down. I even posted a video here a couple days ago posted by Patrick 2 years ago saying he was much more comfortable racing than acting. Several of his racing videos mention that fact. It’s really sad at the number of people that have claimed to watch the show 10+ years, don’t have a clue about the actors personal lives. I’ve watched a bunch of his racing videos for years. I was never more proud of him than I was at the 24 hour race recently. Patrick and his co-driver “Patrick” as well, did amazing. He was tickled to death when they interviewed him. I cried. So happy for him. Amen Mara! I agree with Patrick too…

  3. zac says:

    Is it me or is the title wrong? “was not a difficult one” meaning it was easy?

  4. Wonder
    If we will ever know the real reason
    He was fired ?

    • Miss Rozie says:

      @Karen Williams ~ after all this time, for me, it does not really matter. Dr. McDreamy is gone. Watcha gonna do? As for me, I’m going to pick up right where I left off in S11 & start watching S12. It will be just as strange not to have Derek there as it has been for Cristina not to be there. If these actors had been on one or two seasons it would be different but they were there 10/11 seasons,respectively. We’ll get used to it because that is what story telling is all about – change. If there is no change, we don’t move forward.

    • jadensgranny says:

      If you go to youtube videos, there’s at least 2 years of videos Patrick is saying racing is his first love. He always felt comfortable in the car and he was never comfortable acting. I was shocked about that but it’s his words. He gave us 2 yrs when he’d rather have been racing more.

  5. Eric7740 says:

    BS!!!! I just wish someone would finally admit that Shonda is a vindictive person. And if you’re on one of her shows and you upset her in anyway, she will kill you off that show!!! Period! #truth

    • Marianne says:

      Chyler Leigh left and Lexis got killed off and there was nothing going on. And opposite, there were issues with Isaiah Washington and Burke was not killed off. We do not know what happened and it really is not our business.

    • Miss Rozie says:

      @Eric7740 – Shonda is a storyteller, first & foremost ~ please do stop with the vindictiveness angle. We are not with her & the writers in the writing room to even have an inkling of what goes on, or doesn’t, on a daily basis with any of the shows she writes.

    • Anna says:

      This comment makes no sense. She didn’t kill off Izzie or Burke, and it was very well-known that the actors had major problems with Shonda Rhimes. On the flip side, Lexie was killed off after Chyler Leigh herself decided (and very publicly confessed) that she wanted to leave Grey’s to spend more time at home with her kids. She even said that she and Shonda worked on wrapping up Lexie’s storyline over that last season together.

      Truth is, just like everyone else, actors’ roles are jobs. Not everyone holds the same job forever. Some people get fired (for either public or private reasons), and some people decide to leave for personal reasons or to pursue other jobs. I just changed jobs this year myself – not because my boss was vindictive or that I hated working there, but because I was ready for something different. Everyone who is blindly attacking Shonda Rhimes’s character (even though they don’t even know the woman) needs to grow up. You have no idea what really happened, so bashing a person you don’t even know is just plain silly.

    • DarkDefender says:

      @Eric7740 = KH’s mom

  6. Gabriel Anthony says:

    I thought the same thing when I decided to stop watching greys. Thx Shonda, we have a connection

  7. Linda Rogers says:

    Please, please don’t let Arizona and Callie get back together. That will kill it for me.

    • Anna says:

      Oh god, I pray to the heavens they stay divorced. I absolutely hate them together – both of them just turn into worse versions of themselves when they are together. Please find lasting and separate love interests for them!

      • JP says:

        I just don’t want Shonda to turn Callie into the bed hopping person she one was. Please let them find partners of the same gender. Every show needs a dose of reality.

  8. thisismenow says:

    He could have gone to Washington and she could mention talking on the phone to him, flying out to see him. They could have just sidestepped the issue. I mean he was missing for like half the season last year.

    They could have then brought him back for sweeps and the occasional episode. She was just bitter he wanted out and she decided in a blind rage to kill him.

    • aph1976 says:

      Yeah they could have had Derek working in Washington and let us see Meredith have phone calls with him but it would have limited her in certain ways because she never would have cheated on Derek.So as long as Derek was out there Meredith’s romantic possibilities with someone new would be closed off.Plus as you point out Dempsey could have come back for an episode or 2 but then he would have left again.Then the show would have to explain his leaving Meredith and the kids again for a job.So i think Rhimes was in a no win situation with what to do with Derek.

    • Mary says:

      If you have been a faithful viewer you would understand that it wasn’t an option. He never would of left Mer and the kids for a job if they kept true to his character. Patrick wanted to devote his time with racing not acting. His choice, and by killing him it gives Mer the option of moving on. This was his job, which obviously he didn’t want to commit to. As much of a shock it was that he died, I think it will help move the story forward. Him being in one state would of left Mer in limbo which would of become boring.

  9. johnhelvete says:

    This seems pretty simple to me, Patrick Dempsey did not want to do the show anymore. How can the writers explain why Derek is never seen again on the show besides his death? I can understand fans being mad about how he died, but there was no other realistic choice for the writers.

  10. Concerned says:

    Then why have him leave at all? There’s a weird elephant in the room with all these statements. Why isn’t anyone asking WHAT HAPPENED? Clearly theres some weird behind the scening happening here

  11. Alyse says:

    I guess I still don’t get why they killed off his character in season 11 when Patrick had already signed on to do season 12.

    • Miss Rozie says:

      @Alyse – it is always very possible that Patrick wanted more time off than the storyline allowed. Whatever the decision(s) was(were) he is no longer on Grey’s. I am very much looking forward to S12 – and you? :-)

      • Alyse says:

        I can’t wait for season 12 and to see where it goes!

        • Miss Rozie says:

          @Alyse – another what? 8 weeks? They will go fast, it’s still summer & we’re all out & about yet. S12 should be interesting … :-)

      • lorna says:

        Stop blaming Patrick. Sarah Michelle wanted out of Buffy after s5, yet was contracted for 2 more years. If they really wanted to, they would have kept PD. His role had been greatly reduced since s9. But who knows. We most likely never will.

        • Mary says:

          In a way it is Patrick fault. Yes he was contracted for two years but obviously didn’t want to be there, by his own admission. Maybe his contract was written that he only worked X number of days, who knows. It is not fair that the show revolves around one actor. For me it was not realistic him going to Washington and leaving Mer and the kids behind. As much as I hated him dying I think it added life to the show.

  12. aph1976 says:

    Killing Derek was probably the logical way to write the character off because he would never leave Meredith for good and they couldn’t put in a coma either because that would have limited Meredith going forrward.So once Rhimes knew Patrick was leaving figuring out how to write Derek off was probably the easiest thing of the whole situation.

  13. jadensgranny says:

    WHY PATRICK LEFT. I don’t think this site will let me post a link, seems like I’ve tried it before. Go to youtube, do a search for this, “Why Dempsey Races | Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans” Patrick will tell you himself why he left. The video is 2 years old. There are other’s but this one is pretty direct. He gave us years when he would have rather been racing.

  14. Tina Franklin says:

    Is it just me or does anyone else think that the chick who plays Meredith cannot act?

  15. Cas says:

    Yeah there are definitely ways around killing him off. It isn’t like the show is going to last that many more seasons.

  16. Fernanda says:

    I wanna be a showrunner as Shonda… killing fictional characters in paper must be fun. But showrunners have their own ideas for the characters in every season but the actors could turn difficult the writting process.

  17. Mary says:

    I don’t really have a problem that Derek died if he was leaving the show one way or another. What I had a problem with was the WAY they had him die. Lying there on a stretcher and knowing his thoughts…..that they were not doing the proper treatment and that he was not able to tell them so. To know that he would have lived if he would have been able to communicate that to them. I really didn’t need to know all his thoughts during that process. I have watched Grey’s for 11 seasons, but I didn’t watch the episode after his death and I won’t be watching it again. Terrible ending for him.

  18. Trish says:

    The title of this article is misleading. It is making reference to a quote that is about the decision of the ‘way’ derek died. Please correct title.

  19. Joss says:

    PD may have wanted to do other things, but the really loathsome and brutal thing about what Shonda Rhimes did to write him out ensures I will never again invest my precious time watching anything with her name attached to it. The bottom line is that Shonda was pissed that Patrick wanted out and lie other actors before him who had angered her in some way, she retaliated with petty vengeance and the FANS are the ones who pay the price. Season 11 was FULL of clues as to Shonda’s vindictiveness towards PD. Specifically, the beginning of the season opens with 8 episodes which turn a once heroic and noble hotshot go to neuro-god into a whining and bitter husband at having to be in Seattle working for his family when all he wants is a chance to work in his dream job in DC. A slam at PD for wanting to dedicate his time to racing and feeling constrained by the demands of an 18 hour a day show he devoted 10 full years to? I think so. What about diminishing his role at the hospital and removing him from Head of Neurosurgery in place of his little sister? A slam at PD by showing him he’s not an important lead on the show and that he’s just really a prop for the high powered women and he has to bow to them (ie. Shonda herself)? Accident? I think not. How about when he returns from his hiatus and Shonda makes PD act out scenes as Derek who has kissed another woman and almost cheated, but then decides to do the noble thing and leave his dream job to return to his family which is the most important thing ever? A jab at PD just as he is going through a divorce partly because he was struggling to balance time with his family while he was pursuing his lifelong dream of racing? Was she pointing out that Derek chose his family while PD failed to keep his intact? An accident? I think not. Then, the day Derek dies as he comes upon the speeding driver on the abandoned road, Shonda’s script has Derek utter the line “What, I’m not going fast enough for you?” A jab at PD’s love of racing being delinquent? How about when the mother accident victim blames the driver who caused the accident before she knows he’s a teen by telling Derek the driver “is probably some guy whose speeding is just a mid-life crisis.” Another jab at PD? Then of course, let’s not forget that Derek is driving a Porsche when he is mortally wounded. THIS is the most heinous moment in my opinion. To have the character killed in a Porsche when PD races a Porsche and he is supposedly leaving the show to do more of that is beyond evil and that kind of vindictiveness takes my breathe away. Finally, Derek Shepherd dies a gruesome death and alone (PD’s contract nullified and leaves the show with no well wishes or fanfare) because a female smart doctor (Shonda?) is annoyed by an absent neurosurgeon? Is that absent neurosurgeon not supposed to be PD and Shonda’s trying to tell us she killed Derek because PD wouldn’t play in her sandbox anymore? THE WHOLE lead up and delivery to this exit smacks of Shonda’s desire to get back at PD for daring to want to do something else with his life other than her show. Even though the man had dedicated a decade to helping put her show and name on the map, that was not enough for Shonda. I have watched every single episode of Grey’s Anatomy LIVE from the very beginning. I love many characters on the show and have stuck it out no matter the story twist because I believed in Shonda’s creative vision. This horrifyingly vindictive and petty exit put an end to that. My respect for her is gone, and when Shonda brutally butchered Derek out of spite for PD, and with no regard to his fans, she also managed to destroy my love for the show. Grey’s Anatomy is dead to me. RIP.

    • Hwah says:

      Paragraphs are your friend.

    • Mary says:

      Wow tell us how your really feel. This is a show, and why should one actor have control over how the story goes. Sorry I love Derrick and Mer, but him taking a job out of state wasn’t working for me. His own words, he wants to race. Now he has all the time in the world to do what he truly loves.

    • BTW says:

      Lolz, this is the most childish and petty comment I have read so far. These are fictional characters, and you have no idea what actually happened between Shonda Rhimes and Patrick Dempsey behind closed doors. What I don’t understand is how you can get so worked up about what happened to a fictional character to the point of verbally attacking a real woman you don’t even know but not get that maybe something real precipitated this decision. So you’re allowed to be angry and vindictive but Shonda Rhimes isn’t? Haha, okay.

    • Jessica says:

      Wow. Just wow. It’s like amateur hour in an English 101 class.

  20. Karen says:

    I think Ms. Rimes and ABC Exec’s should’ve bent over backwards trying to keep PD! The show will not do as well in his absence.

  21. lorna says:

    Should have killed Meredith off. She was always a miserable wretch.

  22. kate says:

    really hope rthe show will fail…sure I’m not going to watch it again.
    as painful as it was I continued to watch it after lexie and mark death….but I will never forgive derek death

    • Mary says:

      My sentiments exactly!! It was horrible when Lexie and Mark died, but the way this happened has ruined it for me. Will never watch again.

  23. dee123 says:

    Die hard Shonda fans give 1Directioners and Twihards are run for their money in the loon department.

  24. robandco says:

    She’s perfectly right. He wanted to leave. Killing him was necessary story-wise. Yes, it may have been handled rather poorly but come on, it was rather unexpected and it is not the first time an actor left the show. Knight wanted to leave, George’s dead and we had to deal with the fallout and had a flash forward. Leigh wanted to leave, Lexie’s dead and we had to deal with the fallout and had a flash forward. Dempsey wanted to leave and Shonda tried something similar yet different. If I were her I’d be pissed to see actors paid millions each years walk out of the show I build from scratch. I find them rather ungrateful. I know they didn’t expect the show to go on and on for 12 years but still. It’s not like they are in 100% of the scenes and work 24/7 365 days a year. They can have other things on the sides. I completely get Shonda for stopping being nice with them.

    • y says:

      Tv work days can be looong. Imagine having to work 14+ hr days doing the same thing for 12years. Add travel time to and from work and you have no life. The show should’ve been over years ago. At some point as an actor you’re bored and just phoning it in

      • robandco says:

        22 episodes a year and about 9 days of shooting per episode is 198 days of shooting per year for the series. Not all actors are in every scene. If I could find a job where I can phone it in for 2.2 million dollar a year with roughly 5 months vacation in total in exchange for 14+ hours of hanging out with fun people on a TV set I would take it right away.

  25. Betty says:

    I heard that PD was having an affair with a young GA staffer. This of course led to some drama on set and his divorce as well. Ellen Pompeo was a good friend of his soon to be ex wife. Don’t know if it’s true but it would explain the sudden implosion of Merder. He pissed off a lot of people.

    • Julie says:

      I’ve heard that too. The affair, or the fact that Ellen supposedly told his wife about it, caused some turmoil,on set. We’ll,never know if it’s true or not but it all happened around the time he and his wife separated and his character was in DC. I wish Patrick didn’t leave, for whatever reason, but now that I’ve had time to get used to it, there really wasn’t another way for them to write his character out and pave the way for future character development for Meredith.

  26. EM says:

    He has said repeatedly that he wanted more time off for racing. Sounds like he went from being an asset to a liability. Why should the writers, producers and other cast members have to work around his increasingly busy race schedule? He may have wanted to stay until his contract was up but didn’t want to give it 100 percent. I will agree with others that it wasn’t that he was killed off, but the how of it that doesn’t sit well with me. I’ll still be watching season 12 but the ice that rhimes is walking on is getting very thin.

  27. Sam says:

    I’m still gonna watch the new season and I’m sure it’ll still be good, but the idea that the only thing to do was kill off his character is ridiculous.
    Some people suggested amnesia which I’m personally not a huge fan of, cuz I think he would still stick around. However, I thought a coma would be good. For some reason Grey’s Anatomy almost never includes comas. It’s always someone being brain dead and they should just pull the plug it seems like. I feel like they could have put him in a coma and just hid the face for some visits and mention it frequently. Then in the last episode of the series have him wake up. Is it a bit ridiculous? yes. But its TV and its not much of a stretch from the rest of the show. I’m sure Patrick Dempsey would have come back for one episode at the very end of the show. I think that would have worked out perfectly. They took so much away from Meredith. The fact that she doesn’t have Christina or Derek is just so bothersome. One or the other I could have dealt with.
    Am I happy the show is still running? Yes. But honestly, its been so many years, I think I would have preferred the show had just ended with happy ending and McDreamy was still alive.

  28. JP says:

    Please Shonda, don’t make Callie or Arizona go straight again. Every show needs some token gays.

  29. Lee says:

    It was obviously a personal, spiteful decision and I hope the show does end. It may be ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, but without McDreamy (from day 1), Meredith is a snooze. I won’t be watching anymore.

  30. Nakoma says:

    Good, I hated Mcdreamy! Shonda did the right thing by killing him off. Him and Meredith were becoming such a boring couple and it pained me to watch them together. I am even more excited for the new season to begin.