While Grey’s Anatomy fans may still be mourning the loss of Patrick Dempsey’s Dr. Derek Shepherd, his sudden death may have given the show a new life — at least according to ABC president Paul Lee.
Speaking at this year’s Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, Lee told press in attendance that killing off McDreamy was “a difficult decision,” but also one he fully stands behind.
Dr. Shepherd, of course, was surprisingly killed off toward the tail end of season 11, when he was hit by a semi-truck after having saved a few lives on the scene of a roadside car accident. The storyline threw fans of the series into a tizzy — after all, what is Grey’s Anatomy without Dr. McDreamy? On the numbers front, the episode in which Derek dies drew in 9.5 million viewers, marking the season’s second best numbers overall.
“It was great, wasn’t it?” said Lee of the episode as reported by Deadline. “While you may not agree, Derek’s death reignited the show — it was great to see Grey’s Anatomy so relevant.”
But while the loss of one of the show’s original characters was a bitter pill for fans to swallow, Lee also spoke excitedly about what’s ahead for Grey’s now that it has lost one of its key players.
“We’ve seen the pitch for next season and the show reinvents itself again,” said Lee. “[Shonda Rhimes] really is a remarkable showrunner. We have no reason to expect that Grey’s Anatomy will not go on for many, many, years to come.”
Grey’s Anatomy returns to ABC for season 12 on Thursday, September 24 at 8 p.m.
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