This is it, Grey’s Anatomy fans! The hit ABC series has forever changed in a way that basically no one saw coming.
Without giving too much away about the actual premise of tonight’s episode, titled “How to Save a Life,” Derek (Patrick Dempsey) witnesses a terrible car accident on a relatively isolated mountain road. While he manages to save all four victims, he himself is later hit by a transport truck as he goes to drive away from the crash scene.
Due to general incompetence on the part of the doctors at the nearby hospital where he was taken, Derek was declared brain dead.
Dempsey’s sudden departure from the show is both shocking and not-at-all surprising. Season 11 saw his character take a highly-coveted job in Washington D.C., a move that kept him out of several episodes. While Dempsey previously renewed his contract with the show, which would take him to the end of season 12, his absence this season has sort of prepared fans for this moment.
Dempsey spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the twist:
“ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This doesn’t make any sense. Didn’t you just sign a two-year contract extension last year?
Patrick Dempsey: Yes. you’re right. (He pauses) It just sort of evolved. It’s just kind of happened. It really was something that was kind of surprising that unfolded, and it just naturally came to be. Which was pretty good. I like the way it has all played out.”
That’s only an answer, Dempsey, if not answering the question is considered an appropriate answer.
“This is going to kill the fans.
I think it will be very shocking, the way it happens. It’s really going to be powerful. But life is like that. I think any time an original cast member has left, there’s always a void that will never be filled. Shepherd is a beloved character. People don’t want to lose him. He’s been in their lives for over 10 years. But it goes on, and it will evolve.”
What I take away from his interview is that we’ll never know why he left the show. Was it his decision or was it
the show’s Shonda Rhime’s decision? There have been rumours that Dempsey has been a huge diva lately, but it’ll take a hell of a lot of convincing to make me believe that.
Rhimes released her own statement, which basically shuts down any negative rumours about Dempsey’s exit:
“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.’ Patrick Dempsey’s performance shaped Derek in a way that I know we both hope became a meaningful example — happy, sad, romantic, painful and always true — of what young women should demand from modern love. His loss will be felt by all. Now, Meredith and the entire Grey’s Anatomy family are about to enter uncharted territory as we head into this new chapter of her life. The possibilities for what may come are endless. As Ellis Grey would say: the carousel never stops turning.”
Find out how the rest of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital reacts to Derek’s passing on Grey’s Anatomy season 11, episode 22 “She’s Leaving Home”.