Why Patrick Dempsey Leaving ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Is a Good Thing

Grey’s Anatomy used to be appointment TV for me – I couldn’t get enough of Meredith, Derek, Cristina, Bailey, Alex, and the rest of the gang. But as the storylines got increasingly absurd and over the top (Izzie is having ghost sex with her dead fiance? REALLY?), I watched less and less often. It has gotten to the point where I just catch clips on Hulu a couple of days after an episode airs or let a friend who watches this show give me a verbal update about the few remaining characters I like. But the news that Patrick Dempsey, aka Dr. McDreamy, is planning to leave after next season, is actually refreshing. Eight years of a series is impressive for any actor, and the show is in need of a major shakeup if it wants to remain on the air.

Although I like Meredith and Derek as a couple most of the time, their storyline is coming to a close. Grey’s operates on the principle that there is no such thing as a happy couple and that content equals boring. Creator Shonda Rhimes has said that she believes the show illustrates the principle that it’s impossible to “have it all,” and she has shown that again and again – Bailey’s marriage broke up because she spent too much time at work, Alex and Izzie finally got married only to nonsensically break up (this was largely due to Izzie’s portrayer, Katherine Heigl, leaving the show in a hurry), Meredith got her man but is unable to have kids. In order for Meredith and Derek to finally get their marriage on track for good, they will have to leave the show. If they do leave the show, I hope it will be together – Ellen Pompeo (Meredith)’s contract reportedly expires the same time as Patrick’s, and in the past she has alluded to leaving after the eighth season. Fans who have rooted for “MerDer” since day one won’t enjoy watching Meredith mope around about her marriage breaking up. This season, Meredith and Derek started the process of adopting Zola, a Malawian orphan, and I could see the next season ending with the McDreamys finally having a family, a house (the painfully slow construction of their dream house has been an ongoing joke among fans), and a new life together with considerably less drama. I could see them being offered jobs at a different hospital and deciding to move, or the show could create a different fictional hospital in the Seattle area where the McDreamys could go work while still leaving room for them to do occasional cameos.

But if Meredith Grey leaves the show, what happens to Grey’s Anatomy? Meredith’s sister Lexie (played by Chyler Leigh) has been getting more and more screen time during her tenure on the show. As other regular cast members have left the show, Lexie became a more integral character. Since most of the show’s current storylines revolve around “2.0″ cast members who weren’t part of the original lineup (like Callie, Arizona, Owen, Teddy, and the former Mercy West gang), it makes sense to move forward with the younger Grey leading the charge. And since everyone on the show is apparently required to be in a relationship with another character at any given time, there are plenty of twosomes who could take over the MerDer fanbase.

I think McDreamy leaving Grey‘s could be the best or worst thing ever to happen to the show. If Derek and Meredith leave, they could take all their fans with them and put the final nail in the coffin. (To be fair, I think the musical episode did its own part to drive fans away, but that’s just me.) But if played properly, Derek’s departure could be a “passing of the torch” to the second generation of a show that desperately needs a transformation.

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    • Caro

      I couldn’t agree with you more!! It would almost be a relief to not worry about Meredith & Derek, they could finally be happy and we could dream about their amazing future together and lots and lots of babies. I agree that the show could move on without them. I think if Shonda would end their marriage or make on of them heroicly save someone’s life and die in the process, the fans would stop watching Grey’s Anatomy all together. If Shonda would just make Mer and Der move as a couple, there would still be hopes that they would visit Seattle Grace Hospital. And yes, they’d still be together when we would watch Lexie, Mark, Bailey, the Chief, Owen and Cristina and everybody else. If Shonda Rhimes would want every fan that is still watching the show to continue watching after Patrick and Ellen have left, she has no choice than to give them a happy departure and go on with the remaining characters. But she should definitely work on the story lines because we need something good to keep watching! She has it in her to write amazing stories so let’s hope she won’t ruin 8 years of Mer & Der legacy, the foundation of this show. She needs to keep that intact, give us as the true fans that, and give us a reason to keep watching. That reason would be a happy Mer & Der and good stories that are to be told in Mercy West Seattle Grace Hospital. Give us a break up or death for Meredith or Derek and you’ll lose us forever. We don’t want that, not after making us fall in love with them and sticking by them for so long. That would be a betrayal to the fans and we wouldn’t accept that but we would stop watching! Let Mer & Der have a great life after Seattle and make us stay around for Lexie and Mark, Cristina and Owen and please, give Alex and also Bailey a good story line!

    • Cory

      I don’t know… I’m only halfway thorugh season 7 because it is still airing where I live, so I am technically reading spoilers here, hehe..
      But I’ve been thinking the same thing basically: how can Meredith and Derek stay together without any drama or leaving? It goes against the very concept of the show. Still, I feel weird about removing the main character… (Even though I have thought before that I could do without Meredith..) Also, it would be a bit weird to have just one half of the Meredith&Cristina-dreamteam…