Drama

Shonda Rhimes on why she killed off McDreamy on 'Grey's Anatomy'

  • FILE- In this Nov. 23, 2014 file photo, Patrick Dempsey presents the award for pop/rock band, duo or group on stage at the 42nd annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles. In the Thursday, April 23, 2015, episode of "Grey's Anatomy" Dempsey made a surprise departure from the series, when his character Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd died from injuries suffered when he was blindsided by a truck. ABC President Paul Lee was asked Tuesday, Aug. 4, about the decision to kill off Dempsey’s character, Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd  from the show. The question was asked at a bi-annual press conference for TV critics. Lee went on to say that “It was a difficult decision. Patrick obviously has lots of interests outside. He’s very big in motosport. Shonda (Rhimes) decided that was the way to go.” (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)

    FILE- In this Nov. 23, 2014 file photo, Patrick Dempsey presents the award for pop/rock band, duo or group on stage at the 42nd annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles. In the Thursday, April 23, 2015, episode of "Grey's Anatomy" Dempsey made a surprise departure from the series, when his character Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd died from injuries suffered when he was blindsided by a truck. ABC President Paul Lee was asked Tuesday, Aug. 4, about the decision to kill off Dempsey’s character, Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd from the show. The question was asked at a bi-annual press conference for TV critics. Lee went on to say that “It was a difficult decision. Patrick obviously has lots of interests outside. He’s very big in motosport. Shonda (Rhimes) decided that was the way to go.” (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this image released by ABC, Patrick Dempsey appears in a scene from "Grey's Anatomy," which aired April 23. ABC President Paul Lee was asked Tuesday, Aug. 4, about the decision to kill off Dempsey’s character, Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd,  from the show. The question was asked at a bi-annual press conference for TV critics. Lee went on to say that “It was a difficult decision. Patrick obviously has lots of interests outside. He’s very big in motosport. Shonda (Rhimes) decided that was the way to go.”  (Kelsey McNeal/ABC via AP)

    In this image released by ABC, Patrick Dempsey appears in a scene from "Grey's Anatomy," which aired April 23. ABC President Paul Lee was asked Tuesday, Aug. 4, about the decision to kill off Dempsey’s character, Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd, from the show. The question was asked at a bi-annual press conference for TV critics. Lee went on to say that “It was a difficult decision. Patrick obviously has lots of interests outside. He’s very big in motosport. Shonda (Rhimes) decided that was the way to go.” (Kelsey McNeal/ABC via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Shonda Rhimes says it "wasn't easy or fun" to kill Patrick Dempsey's character off of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy."

Dempsey played Dr. Derek Shepherd, a brain surgeon nicknamed McDreamy, who was Ellen Pompeo's love interest for 11 seasons on the long-running medical soap.

Speaking to TV critics Tuesday, the "Grey's" creator said she was faced with either having Shepherd leave Pompeo's Meredith Grey and taint their love story, or be killed off, keeping it intact.

"The only way to preserve what felt true to me was that Derek was gonna have to die," she said.

Pompeo said that the loss was an interesting challenge creatively because "those are the best scenes to play" as an actor.

She also pointed out the realism of the situation.

"So many people lose their spouses in a myriad of different ways and feel they can't get up again and to tell the story of how life goes on after... that's a story worth telling."

Earlier Tuesday, ABC President Paul Lee also addressed the polarizing choice to kill off Dempsey's character. "It was great to see 'Grey's Anatomy' so relevant and taking the national conversation," he said.

Lee went on to say that "It was a difficult decision. Patrick obviously has lots of interests outside," referring to Dempsey's career as an amateur race car driver. "Shonda decided that was the way to go."

Rhimes teased that season 12 will be "lighter in tone" and shows Pompeo's Grey in a position she never thought she'd be in, as a widowed mother.

"Grey's" new season will premiere Sept. 24.

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