Shocking “Grey’s Anatomy” Development Spells Doom For Series


Meredith Grey says her final goodbyes to husband Derek Shepherd as his life support is removed. Courtesy of ABC Studios

Meredith Grey says her final goodbyes to husband Derek Shepherd as his life support is removed. Courtesy of ABC Studios
Meredith Grey says her final goodbyes to husband Derek Shepherd as his life support is removed. Courtesy of ABC Studios

As co-star Patrick Dempsey acted in his final episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” fans stared at their televisions in shock, their hearts slowly breaking into a million tiny pieces.

Thanks to an edition of Entertainment Weekly that arrived at some Americans’ homes earlier that day, it was no secret that Dempsey, who played beloved neurosurgeon Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, was going to leave the show in the very near future. It was how he exited that would ensure the fandom was left with deep emotional scars.

Shepherd was just returning home to Seattle from quitting his job in Washington, D.C. when he witnessed a horrific car accident and stopped to help the victims, repeating his catchphrase, “It’s a beautiful day to save lives.” But as soon as the accident victims got on the ambulance for transport to the nearest hospital, the irony hit–literally. A semi-truck barreled into Shepherd’s own car as he reached for his phone to call his wife, Dr. Meredith Grey.

He was taken to the same hospital as the people he saved, but the surgeons there were painfully incompetent and did not order a CT scan for his head injury, so despite all the -ostomies and -ectomies they performed, Shepherd–a neurosurgeon–was pronounced brain dead in the operating room.

Senior Sushi Tamilselvan, an avid “Grey’s Anatomy” watcher, highly disapproved of creator Shonda Rhimes’ decision to kill off one of the show’s best assets. “I think it is totally unnecessary … I am sad and a tad bit angry. There has to have been a better way to stage his exit,” Tamilselvan said, pointing out that Rhimes could have easily made Shepherd stay in D.C. for good.

Others evidently shared her views, because within minutes of the 9 p.m. conclusion of the episode (which was cruelly titled “How to Save a Life”), the Internet exploded with tweets and Facebook posts, which continued steadily throughout the week. Some were bitter; some were utterly devastated and some were seething with anger.

“How about changing the title from #GreysAnatomy to Grave’s Anatomy? It fits well now!” Twitter user @ohdempsey wrote. “It honestly feels like my own family member passed away,” user @Alliodeeleio tweeted. “Can I sue a fictional hospital for wrongful death?” tweeter @CaseyGoldstein asked.

The public’s reaction to Shepherd’s death throughout the following week was unprecedented. Grey’s Anatomy trended on Facebook for several days, scores of young women posted pictures of themselves crying over Shepherd’s death online, there was a surge of memes displaying the words “Raise your hand if you’ve ever been emotionally victimized by Shonda Rhimes” and a group of fans even launched a petition for Rhimes to bring “McDreamy” back.

To further tear at fans’ emotions, on the Apr. 30 episode, Rhimes brought in a time jump and had Grey give birth to a daughter, Ellis, whom she had conceived with Shepherd right before he left Seattle for the last time. This occurred in an unknown location to which she had run off with her and Shepherd’s two other children, daughter Zola and son Bailey.

Now that McDreamy is up in heaven with a coterie of other killed-off characters, fans are left to worry about the fate of the living ones, and the fate of the show as a whole. Grey now faces a brave new world as a widow and single mother, a status which could help or destroy her. She could, on one hand, focus her energy on her work and her three children, and thereby circumvent the path of dwelling on her grief.

Conversely, the burden might just become too much for her to bear and cause her to make irrational decisions (as she did when she ran away with Zola and Bailey without telling anybody), or worse, fall into depression and suicidal tendencies like her mother Ellis did when she could not be with the love of her life. As Grey has said many times, “The carousel never stops turning.”

Another character who will be the object of much concern from the fans is Shepherd’s neurosurgeon younger sister Amelia. Amelia has already suffered through unimaginable tragedy– her father was shot in front of her and Derek when she was only five years old, her fianc died of a drug overdose and her infant son lived for only 43 minutes after being born with almost no brain. She and Derek were always very close, so his death could easily be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

There is a chance that Amelia could fall back on her old narcotics addiction as a method of blocking out the pain, despite the fact that her boyfriend-turned friend, Chief of Surgery and trauma surgeon Owen Hunt, succeeded in stopping her from popping some oxycodone pills on the Apr. 30 episode. Nobody knows what might happen to Amelia if she goes down this path, but it could very well be ugly. “Shonda will do anything at this point to play with our feels,” Tamilselvan said.

Could the end of “Grey’s Anatomy’s” original OTP (one true pairing) be signaling the show’s downfall? Sadly, it is certainly possible. The fandom is clearly not happy about how Rhimes handled Dempsey’s exit, claiming close emotional bonds to Shepherd and insisting that the way in which he left was not an end suitable for such a pivotal character. Viewership and ratings will likely drop, which may or may not cause ABC to stop the program. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?” More like “hell hath no fury like a dissatisfied fan base.”

Devastating as the likely ending of “Grey’s Anatomy” may be, the show has lived a long and healthy life of almost 11 years. “The show has run its course and as much as I want for this amazing show to keep going on forever, I don’t think it’s gonna last a�� I think they’re just running out of material to write about at this point,” Tamilselvan said.

Should the Grim Reaper come for Grey’s, it will be gone, but not forgotten (and not just in terms of all the episodes stored on Netflix). Derek Shepherd will be immortal in the hearts of fans, and his (and other charactersa��) life lessons will continue to inspire us for years to come. Again, to quote Meredith Grey, the carousel never stops turning.

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