Shonda Rhimes Finally Explains Why She Killed Off Derek Shepherd On 'Grey's Anatomy'

"I really couldn’t have the idea that he turned out to be a bad guy who walked out on his wife and his kids."

At long last, "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes has explained why she ruined the show killed off the dreamiest doctor at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.

On Tuesday, Rhimes told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour that the decision to kill off Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) at last season's end was a "difficult one." 

"What were the options? 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 their love was not true, that the thing we said for 11 years was a lie, and McDreamy wasn’t McDreamy," Rhimes said. "For me, that was untenable. Meredith and Derek’s love had to remain Meredith and Derek’s love. So as painful as that was for me as a storyteller, the only way to preserve what felt true to me was that Derek was going to have to die in order for that to remain honest."

The 45-year-old writer and executive producer added, "I really couldn’t have the idea that he turned out to be a bad guy who walked out on his wife and his kids be a true story. To me, that was the only way to make Meredith and Derek’s magic remain true and remain frozen in time.” 

The character's death came as huge shock to fans, who did not accept his fate easily and actually petitioned for his return.

Meanwhile, viewers weren't the only ones who shocked by the decision. Former "Grey's" star Katherine Heigl, told "Entertainment Tonight" she was "devastated" by the character's death, adding, "I just can't imagine the show without McDreamy. It's just so hard to picture." 

That's not a worry for ABC President Paul Lee, who said he was on board with Rhimes' decision to off McDreamy. 

“We’ve seen the pitch for 'Grey’s' next season,” he told reporters at TCA on Tuesday. “The show reinvents itself again. She really is a remarkable showrunner, and we have no reason to expect that 'Grey’s Anatomy' won’t go on for many years to come."


Also on HuffPost:

Our 2024 Coverage Needs You

As Americans head to the polls in 2024, the very future of our country is at stake. At HuffPost, we believe that a free press is critical to creating well-informed voters. That's why our journalism is free for everyone, even though other newsrooms retreat behind expensive paywalls.

Our journalists will continue to cover the twists and turns during this historic presidential election. With your help, we'll bring you hard-hitting investigations, well-researched analysis and timely takes you can't find elsewhere. Reporting in this current political climate is a responsibility we do not take lightly, and we thank you for your support.

to keep our news free for all.

Support HuffPost