The doctor is officially out. Patrick Dempsey is leaving “Grey’s Anatomy” after 11 seasons on the Emmy-winning medical drama.
Dempsey played the lead role of Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd on ABC’s popular series.
SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead, if you have not watched the April 23 episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” titled “How to Save a Life.”
Dempsey’s character was hit in a car crash on the April 23 episode, leaving his wife Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) deciding to take him off life support.
While Pompeo is still under contract through the unconfirmed 12th season, Dempsey will exit Shonda Rhimes’ show for good, even though his deal also runs through the 2015-16 season.
“Derek Shepherd is and will always be an incredibly important character — for Meredith, for me and for the fans,” Rhimes said in a statement. “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.”
Rumors of Dempsey’s departure have been swirling recently. This season, his storyline sent him to take a job in D.C., cutting his screen time significantly. The actor also spoke on record about exiting the series, telling the Portland Press Herald in November that he’d be leaving “very soon.” Before the fatal episode aired on Thursday, an Entertainment Weekly article confirming Dempsey leaving the show leaked, further fueling the fire.
Today, ABC pushed back next week’s April 30 episode of Rhimes’ political thriller “Scandal” to accommodate a special two-hour edition of “Grey’s,” which will likely serve as a farewell to Dempsey. The promo for next week’s episode features Pompeo, in character, telling her cohorts that Derek is dead.
“After 11 seasons on ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ Patrick Dempsey is moving on to pursue other interests,” ABC said in a statement. “Dr. Derek Shepherd is an iconic character and we’ve been proud to be the home of McDreamy and the ‘Mer/Der’ love story. The devotion of ‘Grey’s’ fans throughout the years has been a testament to the creative mind of Shonda Rhimes and Dempsey’s talent. McDreamy will be greatly missed, and we wish Patrick the very best in his future endeavors.”
Dempsey is not the first regular to exit “Grey’s.” Katherine Heigl, Isaiah Washington, T.R. Knight, Eric Dane, Chyler Leigh and, most recently, Sandra Oh, also departed the series.
“Grey’s Anatomy” has not been picked up for season 12 yet, but averaging 11.6 million viewers this season, the renewal is a lock.