Patrick Dempsey Grey's Anatomy

Patrick Dempsey on Grey's Departure: 'I Stayed Longer Than I Should Have'

Patrick Dempsey has no regrets about leaving Grey’s Anatomy. If anything, the actor wishes he had checked out sooner.

“It had been long enough,” McDreamy’s onetime portrayer tells People.com. “It was time for me to move on with other things and other interests. I probably should have moved on a couple of years earlier. I stayed a bit longer than I should have.”

As Dempsey muses, “I think after a certain period of time, no matter how much money you make, you want control out of your own schedule.”

And when the time did come for him to walk away from the ABC drama in April 2015 (at the end of Season 11), Dempsey says series creator Shonda Rhimes did not block the exit. “It was clear we were both ready,” he offers.

Regarding Rhimes’ decision to kill Derek off by way of a spectacular car crash, Dempsey — whose first major post-Grey’s project, Bridget Jones’s Baby, opens Sept. 16 — says, “I thought it was really interesting. It definitely woke people up. And it was beautifully symbolic in many ways.”

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53 Comments
  1. Azerty says:

    How was it symbolic??? I know that was the only possible exit because Derek leaving town or getting a divorce would have been worse and not consistent at all with the story but it was very violent and sudden. In 2 episodes he was gone for good. I still watch the show and I think they dealt with his exit pretty well but it is definitely not the same show anymore.

    • Alyse says:

      I didn’t get how it was symbolic either. I guess it was symbolic since he was a surgeon and saved people’s lives, yet when it was his turn no one could save him.

      • Cathie says:

        So, I’ve been binge watching this for a couple of months (I can’t remember when I started really…it may be more like 4 months) and it actually was symbolic. Meredith’s been tanking. With all the stuff she dealt with, with her mother, and then her father, sisters and her entire relationship with Derek himself, she needed the “fresh start” that her mother had been looking for. It was the same as her mother giving up Maggie. A clean slate. Meredith wasn’t going to get that without his death. She found herself, found a strength she DIDN’T have before (when she almost drowned on purpose, or put her hand in the bomb guy, or told the shooter to shoot her instead). She knows she’s okay. It was symbolic…they just erased the chalk board. I haven’t seen much yet beyond his death yet…but it was pretty obvious.

    • Ally Oop says:

      I agree. I also think the show did a lot better at handling his exit than Lexi’s. The ridiculousness of that plane crash episode still remains a black mark on what has otherwise been a good show for me.

    • thescreenbeat says:

      Yeah it is just not the same. He brought so much happiness to the show. I feel like all the characters now just all have dark clouds over their heads. He literally held the show together!

    • HQ says:

      Maybe he meant ironic? I always thought it was supposed to be tragically ironic that the world class neurosurgeon died from a brain injury that he probably could have fixed if he had been the surgeon.

    • Cat says:

      It was both symbolic and ironic because he left the show to go car racing and the the car he was driving in the accident was a Porsche, the same company he raced in.

    • Whatevah8 says:

      I still watch it too and you’re so right, it’s not the same show anymore. I miss Derek. Maybe Patrick is happy he’s gone and Shonda and Ellen, but I’m not :( but nothing I can do about it. BOOOO..

  2. Brian says:

    Never understood why so much drama if it was his decision to leave. From the outrage you’d think Rhimes let him go.

  3. lea says:

    It was clear he was just in it for the money in the last seasons.

  4. Brandon says:

    It isn’t that they killed him off, it’s the way he was killed off that still pisses me off. Absolute insult to the character, story, actors, and fan base.

    • thescreenbeat says:

      Agreed!!

    • anon says:

      As someone who was never a huge fan of Derek, I have to agree. He was there from day 1, scene 1- he deserved a better goodbye episode. I really think the outrage wouldn’t have been so huge if his death/the episodes following it had been better written.

  5. rebecca says:

    Meredith was actually watchable last season. No McDreamy in her life looks good on her.

  6. Courtney says:

    I love how this story breaks just weeks before season 13 starts . Funny timing. I think Shonda forced Patrick out of the show by killing his character in such a dumb way. I haven’t forgiven her yet.

    • Eran says:

      Dear Lord, not this again… We’ve moved onwards and upwards. It’s been a hell of a ride, 11 years but it’s done and dusted so please, no more and stay McGone. Thank you.

    • A fan of TV says:

      Waste of your time, if you ask me. He’s forgiven her, clearly, and is even taking half the blame you refuse to allow him. Stahp!!

    • thescreenbeat says:

      No one has forgiven her yet! 😂

    • Jamie says:

      Petty petty petty. The man wanted to leave, was killed off, and mentions the situation which he is clearly not upset about while promoting a new movie, and you still find a way to hate on Shonda Rhimes. Grow up.

  7. LT says:

    He wanted “control of his own schedule” Ummm, yeah…unless you’re the boss, you report to someone. I hope I’m taking this the wrong way, otherwise he comes off like a spoiled brat.

    • C.P. says:

      Nope. He comes off like a spoiled brat. I have that complaint about Dempsey often, in fact.

    • jj says:

      He’s an actor, the way schedules work is different. When an actor is contracted to a show, that eats up 8ish months of their year in which they can’t really do much else. Now that he’s not attached to the show, he can choose how to spend his time (e.g. sign on to a movie, race car driving etc). He has flexibility of his schedule that someone who is on a network show does not have.

    • Dude says:

      How does he come off like a brat? All he’s saying is, no matter how much money he was making, he didn’t want to work all those hours anymore. It’s pretty reasonable.

      • Brigid says:

        Seriously! He’s completely reasonable. There is nothing wrong with someone quitting their job for a more flexible schedule, people have all sorts of great reasons to move on.

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  9. N says:

    I don’t care anymore

  10. Pamela says:

    I would have preferred he took the job in DC and popped in a few episodes per season than having him die and not come back at all.

    • Mary says:

      I am the opposite. Mer and Derrick was always a epic love story. I don’t think it was realistic that he would take a job away especially after everything they went through to be together. In fact when they tried that the year before and the story dragged on. I actually think that him dying gave a new life to Grey’s that was starting to stagnate a little. Your way would have left Mer in limbo land and that wouldn’t have been enjoyable to watch.

  11. ChicagoDan says:

    Don’t watch GA, but always thought PD bought into his own hype. How appropriate he uses GA angle and the ‘I should’ve left sooner because I’m above this tripe’ to promote his next project. What a little man not to acknowledge that GA took him from a nobody and made him known internationally.

  12. amber says:

    I would love to hear his opinion on leaving when and if his movie bombs.

  13. Ange says:

    I hope his comments help people move on. Nothing says go see my movie like I was on that other show that compromised storylines for me way too long and paid me handsomely in the process. Such appreciation.

  14. Larc says:

    I agree with Patrick that he was there a couple of years too long.

    • amber says:

      If we’re being honest the whole show has overstayed it’s welcome. I love Grey’s Anatomy, but when you start repeating the same storylines, or doing crazy stuff just because you can, it might be time to wrap it up.

  15. This horrible show should have ended around 5 years ago.

  16. Jovana says:

    He was obviously not into it for the last few years. It was clear from every interview he gave plus it could be noticed on screen, too. I say good riddance.

  17. jules says:

    PD made several comments over many years where he chose his words carefully when talking about GA being a job. Some of the storylines got kinda ridiculous about MerDer having problems in their marriage just to keep them central to GA. Still can’t watch Der’s exit.

  18. andrew hass says:

    It sounds like it Patrick Dempsey’s own decision to leave and left how Derek exited up to Rhimes.Plus Derek died as a resukt of his trying to save lives and since he was a neurosurgeon maybe it was fitting in a way that he died from a brain injury.Also Derek dying was probably the only way to write him off because he wouldn’t have left Meredith or their kids permanently.

  19. Sheri says:

    I definitely miss him but still love this show. I heard a rumor that last season was it. I almost lost my mind. Please never never cancel this show.

  20. Karen says:

    OMIGOSH !! Are people STILL whining about Patrick Dempsey ?? He WANTED to leave the show. Do you people realize how long this show has been on ? He is an actor. Eventually , actors get bored playing the same role over and over. He wants to do movies…more time off for him to race cars, which he also likes to do. The man is allowed to have a life. Frankly, I was much more upset about Cristina leaving. But, again, actors are human beings, entitled to lives of their own !

  21. The Carpooler says:

    I’ll bet Derek is with Ziva, which makes Tony angry.

  22. Caroline says:

    It is clear that Patrick Dempsey is now happy. He hadn’t been for a long time. A lot of that unhappiness had to do with his job and the people with whom he worked. He had put everything into a role and character that was a major contributor to the success of his show, yet his character was clearly going nowhere in the last few years and he was left with nothing of interest to play. Most actors act because they want to be challenged and have something different to play. He is one of them. Other actors choose to play the same role for as long as a network will keep a show on the air because they want a steady job with a steady paycheck. They don’t care about the challenge of different roles and they avoid even trying to get another role claiming that their gender or age or both prohibit them from successfully getting another role. So out of fear or laziness, they settle for one acting gig and turn it into a job. Fair enough, but I think that unlike others on GA being willing to stay for the next 20 years, Patrick was bored, tired, and fed up. He is right that he should have left sooner. 11 years is an amazing run for an actor. No amount of loyalty to a show or fans should keep a man from spreading his wings and pursuing his dreams of racing, doing other projects, and having control of his personal schedule. I see the relief and serenity now on his face and I’m happy for him. I wish him well.

    • ripDerek says:

      Yes, u are right, he is an actor and its his life, he had the right to leave the show. But death of Derek is too painful. There was only a single perfect man in the planet even if it was jst a tv character but he was an angel. It makes me sad ;(