Shonda Rhimes Grey's Anatomy

Grey's Anatomy Boss Shonda Rhimes Reveals Reason for That McDreamy-Fueled One-Year Time Jump

Shonda Rhimes saved Meredith Grey a ton of grief — 12 months’ worth to be exact — in the wake of Derek’s tragic death.

The Grey’s Anatomy boss tells TVLine that the decision to flash forward an entire year last May immediately following the passing of McDreamy had everything to do with Ellen Pompeo‘s inconsolable widow.

“I couldn’t imagine a world in which Meredith could go a month and be able to speak or breathe — or [even] six months,” Rhimes shares. “I needed time to pass for her to even be in a place where I felt like she could have a conversation.”

Rhimes herself had a tough time grappling with the loss. “It was brutal,” she laments. “I found it incredibly painful to write and incredibly painful to watch. I didn’t go to a single moment of the filming because I was like, ‘I’m just going to stand there and cry like an idiot.'”

The silver lining amid all the Sturm und Drang? The “amazing” performances turned in by Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey. Raves Rhimes: “The work that [Patrick] did and the work that Ellen did just killed me.”

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  1. thisismenow says:

    “10/10 Would Kill Another Main Character Again” – Shonda Rhimes.

    At least she took it emotionally hard. Sometimes it feels like she has blood lust on Grey’s.

    • Poster4392 says:

      Maybe she’ll kill Olivia Pope next, or Annalise. Seems so strange that Derek is off the canvas.

    • RS says:

      I can’t stop laughing at that (accurate) quote.

    • bryce says:

      Writers have to kill main characters. The Derek death was criticized by how iconic of a character, but I for one am glad that this wasn’t a killing spree like other events have been (cough plane cough). Derek was the only one who died in that episode, the only regular to die in three seasons. His death was cared for, and what Shonda has said in the past is true: Derek wouldn’t have worked as an absentee or even long-distance dad or husband.

      • Annie says:

        Thank you. Killing the character was the only option, if Rhimes wanted to continue the show past Dempsey leaving. It’s like people are ignoring the fact that he was barely on screen last season.

        • Leia says:

          Could have given him a job transfer to another hospital in another city. But since it’s a night time soap why bother . Now we can do a Dallas in reverse. We’ll never see the lingering trauma because she’s erased it.

          • bluefairy says:

            No, it wouldn’t have been believable to have Derek work somewhere else and not be seen at all. That would have only worked if Dempsey stayed on the show at least as a recurring character and popped in every once in a while. But if they were to completely write him off, death was the only believable possibility. A divorce+departure would have defeated the point of the previous 11 seasons.

          • Azerty says:

            Maybe the job transfer was not the best solution but there were other ways. Derek was still alive at the end, Meredith could have chosen to keep him on life support until he wake up for the series finale. That way we could have had the storyline of Mer being torn by his choice to not give his organs away or by the doubts he would wake up someday. He could have been declared mentally deficient and placed in a special institute and so bring back the storyline of Mer having to deal with a relationship with someone who can’t talk to her/ recognize her (like with Ellis) and boom end of the series Amelia find a way to bring him back (miracles happen all the time in this serie why not for Derek?). Anyway there were other solutions.

          • aph1976 says:

            Yeah the show could have had Derek receive a job offer out of the country and Meredith decided to stay in Seattle with the kids rather than uproot them.Plus maybe wherever Derek went was a dangerous part of the world and he could have gone missing.Then we could have seen Meredith having to deal with Derek missing.Plus the door would be left open for Derek to return when and if Grey’s ever ended with him and Meredith reuniting.

  2. gris says:

    Still angry at shonda for killing Derek. So angry

    • Jill says:

      Right there with you. So pissed.

      • cej says:

        Me too! Done with Grey’s. The time jump after the horrible death felt like a disservice to the characters and the fans of Mer/Der. Send Mer away and bring her back a year later so we can essentially forget all about Derek.

    • Larc says:

      I don’t think Dempsey left her much choice. It was obvious he was itching to leave. Many of his performances last season up until his final one seemed phoned in.

      • Patrick says:

        The performances of lots of actors in long term roles seem phoned in towards the end. She canned him, the fan backlash was orders of magnitude worse than she or the net feared/anticipated. And so, she is trying to appease the fans. If the fans abandon an aging, and expensive show, it will get canceled. And Shonda and the net will lose a TON of money.

        • prish says:

          I am sure she was very aware of exactly how much fan backlash there would be. Sometimes, you do what you gotta do and hold hands through the rough patch.

        • :) says:

          Actually without Dempsey the show just got a whole lot less expensive. Also there have been several reports that the pd was sleeping with an intern or someone on the show and then the relationship was causing disharmony and is also part of the reason why he was getting divorced which is part of his personal problems. Shonda Rhimes has a known reputation for not putting up with anything that disrupts her show and there are several reports that PD was doing things to disrupt the show it was time for him to go. Without his high price salary the show could live on for a few more years

      • T.W.123 says:

        Larc, I agree with you. I was OBVIOUS that Patrick wanted out. He even said so early last season in the press. And it’s hard to imagine a world where Derek would leave Meredith and the kids willingly. So I’m not sure what else Shonda could do.

        (I know this opinion opens me up to lots of fan backlash. But there it is.)

        • Well. One side says, Shonda wanted to get rid of Patrick. Patrick himself said he was surprised when he got the script for his death episode. He just signed another two year contract…. Why would he do this if he wanted to leave? On the other hand, there are many articles stating Patrick wanted out. We may never find out what really happend, but personally I think the reports saying Patrick wanted out were created after the huge backlash from fans. Like many people now say “he wanted out, what was Shonda supposed to do?!” and this is perfectly reasonable for Shonda to do the things she had done. They needed to minimise the damage, and so much more people would have been pissed if it turned out it really was Shondas fault because she got tired of Patrick and wanted him out. Yeah, he was absend a long time the last season, but it’s said he wanted that because he had some personal issues going on that he needed to solve. I really can’t remember any interview in which Patrick said he wanted out of the show. If you find one, pass it to me and maybe that will change my mind ;). But as far as I’m concerned, I only read articles that stated he wanted out because “a close source” or someone like that said that. It didn’t came from Patrick personally.

          • Mary says:

            He had stated in many interviews he wanted to race, that to be his career. Yes he did sign on for two more years but you never know what went on behind the scene. His wife left him, and maybe he wanted more time off then she could allow due to story line. Either way, was I shocked he died, yes but for me I thought that was one of the best episodes in the past few years. Derek had to die in order for Mer to continue on. Him being brain dead or another job would not have worked. This way Mer can move on and not be in limbo land, because believe me viewers would have dropped like flies. I don’t think he ever wanted out of the series however you can’t have your cake and eat it to. I think he wanted to best of both worlds and maybe she tried to do that, he wasn’t on much in the beginning of the season, and the story wasn’t working. Sorry you cannot run a show around one actor.

      • tvjunkie says:

        I thought she fired him because they had started butting heads over his character. That would also explain phoning it in.

      • Jeri says:

        True Larc. He said racing cars was his main job/focus & his performances demonstrated this. I think he got his wish just a little sooner than he had expected. It was all his design based on his statements. Bye Derek.

  3. Gymzrus says:

    Too bad it took her 4 months to explain. She’s just trying to win back the many viewers she lost. Little too little too late Shonda.

    • Chad says:

      She doesn’t owe anybody any explanations. She created the show and the characters. It’s her story to tell. If viewers don’t like it they can let her know by changing the channel. My guess is most viewers aren’t going anywhere.

    • Annie says:

      Based on the ratings for the post Derek episodes, the show didn’t lose any viewers.

      • I don’t think you could really read that much into the figures of the last couple of episodes. Maybe most of them were really curious or they tuned in because they couldn’t believe he was really dead. I think the number from the next episodes will be much better to judge how many people still watch this.

    • Whatevah says:

      I agree..

  4. Tammy says:

    I thought all of her explanations made sense about Derek’s death. It wouldn’t be a true love story if he just left. He wasn’t going to cheat on her. Having him in DC for extended periods of time didnt really work. Plus he wasn’t going to be available for the occassional scene here and there. The actor wanted to move on. So what do you do? Plus I agree, the year skip is better than watching Meredith grieve every episode. If Patrick Dempsey wanted to go, then his character had to die.

    • LC says:

      Yes, exactly. This is almost exactly what I guessed as to her reasoning for the flash forward. Can you imagine sitting through an entire season of Mer grieving? That would have been painful and slow. With the ff, she showed us the grieving process in an abbreviated format, and now this season, we can start the healing process. The aftermath is still there. There is still wreckage to clean up. But we don’t have to watch Mer do nothing but cry for months. I thought from the beginning that the whole episode was a brilliant handling of the situation.

      • Sophia says:

        I don’t think Derek dying was the major issue for many people. It’s how he died and how nobody grieved for him. We saw the aftermath of George dying , of mark and lexie dying. We felt the pain right alongside with the characters. With Derek we got nothing. It was cold. And this was a character who was right there from the beginning. He had been in all their lives. We don’t know how Richard felt about it or how Bailey , Alex, Callie or Arizona anyone dealt with it. We didn’t see their pain and it became frustrating because fans were grieving a lot. I think that’s why there is so much backlash

        • Mkc says:

          Throughout the course of the remaining episodes we absolutely saw how Callie, Arizona and Bailey dealt with it. Callie broke down introducing a patient to the technology her and Derek developed, Arizona snapped at a coworker in the cafeteria for saying the board was taking too long hiring a replacement, and Bailey and Ben’s entire debate over what each should do if the other was brain dead was brought on by Bailey’s feelings coming home from his funeral. I’m not sure about Richard, and I think Alex was used mostly in those episodes as an extension/touchstone to Meredith’s state of mind. In my mind, the fact that they spent an entire year (albeit, condensed in a single episode) showing the waves Derek’s loss created in the lives of all the characters, is a testament to all his years on the show and his legacy to it.

        • Moni says:

          Exactly. The intern that dies as a result of the shooting got a better deal than Derek.

    • Jenks says:

      I agree. My son has a friend who works with Shonda and he said PD wanted off the show. People who insist on blaming Shonda can feel free to not watch, but I do hope they stop griping about it. It’s done. Frankly, I think she did the best she could with the situation she had. The show is moving on. Move with it or not, but the “Shonda is the devil” stuff is getting way old.

  5. Bella says:

    Bygones, is that the message here? I won’t be watching now that Patrick’s gone.

  6. Ella Jasper says:

    She didn’t change my mind with this story. I’m done.

  7. Dave says:

    She did the right thing with the time jump, in this way she saved all of us from 12 episodes of just grieving and that would have been too painful, really hoping that this season is gonna be lighter, last year was really dark

  8. Hmm. Sounds like she had to come up with a reason for not being on set so she went with “it was too painful”. Comes across to me is she didn’t want to be anywhere near P.D.

  9. EM says:

    I’m fine with the time jump. People would have bitched and moaned if Mer was curled up in a ball crying for a season of GA but how depressing would that have been? Would it have made you feel better? Terrible episode in killing him off but it is done. Watch or don’t.

  10. I really don’t get people if Dereck had left Meredith or stayed in Washington then people would have said “I’d rather he’d be dead” , Shonda killed him because it was the only option and still people are acting like kids. I didn’t watch Patrick Dempsey for like the whole season he appeared like in 10 episodes, so yes I grieved his character but I’m used to not seeing him

    • CarrieB says:

      The MerDer loonies have been bitching about the show for years, when Dempsey was on the show and even when things were going good for MerDer. They’ve ALWAYS had to have something to complain about. They’ll probably spend another 10 years bitching in the comments of Greys Anatomy articles, haha.

  11. N says:

    He was fired

  12. Azerty says:

    She doesn’t not know who to write grieve. When George died? Time jump. When Lexie died? Time jump. Derek died in an horrible car accident? hum how are we going to deal with that let me think…

  13. Alia says:

    No Derek, No Grey’s, it’s so simply. Shonda Rhimes killed the show. I hope ABC takes the wise decision to cancel Grey’s Anatomy.

  14. Kate says:

    Patrick wanted out? Fine. Need to kill Derek off instead of having him leave Mer and the kids? Agreed; fine. The one year time lapse so we don’t have to be subjected to the grieving? Fine. But for crying out loud the episode in which he was killed was one of the most poorly written episodes in recent memory! It was an awful story line. From him not looking before pulling out onto the road, to the “back-woods” hospital with incompetent doctors, to Mer not contacting a single person and going through the final decisions alone. I mean, the least she could have done was written it so he could have been transported to Seattle, everyone would have had a moment to say their goodbyes, Mer would have been surrounded by her friends, and it would have felt like it came full circle if he could have died at the hospital where it all began. Horrible writing.

    • Yes!! I hated so much she didn’t call anyone… and that hospital being so damn! It doesn’t make any sense… I thought he was dreaming during the whole episode, and then we would find out how he died.

    • Mary says:

      The way she did it was more realistic. You don’t always have a chance to say goodbye when a love one passes. Everyone wants a neat and tidy ending when a character leaves, but in reality life isn’t like that. If you have watched the show from the beginning Mer was always a loner. I think it was fitting she made the decision by herself. No matter how the story was written people would complain, it is a no win situation.

  15. Amadeu says:

    The time jump is not the problem. So many SL could happen. They could left Derek with the president, and Mer could go there a lot of times, without us watching the reunion. And before his death, why make him comeback? And after kissing someone? Errr. But thank god we didn’t see Mer during that year.

  16. Luis says:

    I’m gonna go with Shonda on this one. The thought of having to look at Ellen Pompeo’s “cry face” for half a season would have driven me out of my frakkin’ mind. Time jump also conveniently explains how we don’t even get a frakkin’ cameo appearance by Sandra Oh. Cone on Christina – is this how you take care of your person???

  17. Mary G says:

    Good luck with anothet season. You killed a main character and a beautiful true love not often seen in this real world. It was nice to have a show which was in a good place and realistic relationship. Ups and down and still going the long haul.

  18. Bek Dalgety says:

    Being a New Zealander/Kiwi myself, I am so, so ecstatic that a fellow Kiwi actor/New Zealander (Martin Henderson), will be part of the main cast of Grey’s Anatomy in season 12. I am eagerly anticipating his onscreen dubut.

  19. Jordan Turner says:

    She’s full of it. The episode she wrote that killed Derek was filled with hatred and snark. I’ll never watch another one of her shows, let alone Grey’s. She used her anger toward Dempsey to screw loyal viewers.

  20. Vickie says:

    Shonda fired Patrick. Mutual agreement was BS for the fans to feel better. Grey’s is done for me. Ellen does nothing for me without Patrick. Sorry, I hate Shonda and refuse to watch another show of hers.

  21. aph1976 says:

    I understand why there was a time jump because it sort of reset things following Derek’s death.Plus i’m sure in this upcoming season Meredith will still be grieving in some way but she has 3 kids who need her.As for killing Derek, i think that was the only way to write the character off because he never would have left Meredith or their kids permanently.Yeah they could have Derek in a coma and hooked up to machines or something but that might have limited Meredith in certain ways because mostly story involving her would be is Derek going to wake up be part of it.However i think the show could have dragged Derek’s death out over a few episodes leading up to the season finale.Then the time jump could have happened in the finale like Desperate Housewives did in season 4.Then this season on Grey’s could have involved characters having flashbacks of things that happened during that year.

  22. k. preston says:

    Just because Ellen P. Has been on Greys from beginning Does Not make her the Lead. Dempsey Was the lead and favorite. Her whining about being on poster alone Proves again, shes Not a lead actor. A pity character.

  23. Carol Hackett says:

    I love TGIT, all three of the shows are so good. Grays Anaitmey is still my favorite.

  24. linda says:

    The thing I don’t understand and which no one understands is Dempsey wanted to leave. Why when you have a job do these actors say oh the hell with my fans and people that enjoy your acting I’ve had enough and want something better. Hope you find it but instead be grateful for what you have not what you dont, your lucky.

  25. Vanessa says:

    You. My. Actor. Are. My. Husband

  26. Luann says:

    New season premier stinks. Waited all summer. Have watched for 11 years. Very disappointed.

  27. Molly Hm says:

    I have a serious complaint about Season 12. Where is all the great music? We’re enduring lackluster and slow arrangements of songs like “Oops I Did IT Again?” Am I alone in my opinion? Also, Callie is bisexual. I love the LGBT story lines, but why is Callie never dating a man? Wouldn’t that throw Arizona for a loop?

  28. Greysgirl says:

    They couldn’t have sent Derek to work out of the country, he already was in different states. He had come home to Meredith & he was on his way to Washington to quit his job.