Grey’s Anatomy Will Continue for “Many Years” After McDreamy’s Death, Says ABC Boss

Patrick Dempsey as Dr. Derek Shepherd on Grey's Anatomy
ABC boss Paul Lee said killing off Patrick Dempsey's Derek Shepherd on Grey's Anatomy was a "difficult decision," but he expects the show to continue for "many years to come." Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images

No end in sight! Grey's Anatomy is about to enter its twelfth season, and ABC entertainment president Paul Lee told reporters that he doesn't see the show calling it quits any time soon.

"We have no reason to expect that Grey's Anatomy won't go on for many years to come," he said at his network's Television Critics Association executive session on Tuesday, Aug. 4. In fact, he thinks the show is as strong as ever, thanks to creator Shonda Rhimes. "We've seen the pitch for Grey's for next season. The show reinvents itself again."

The death of Patrick Dempsey's Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd in a horrific car accident that played out over two April 2015 episodes was a difficult one for many fans to handle, but Lee said he was pleased with what a talking point it became. "It was great, wasn't it," he asked, before clarifying, "I don't mean THAT was great!"

The fact that the show captured the audience's attention so fully is what was so exciting, he continued. "It was great to see Grey's Anatomy so relevant and taking the national conversation in what was its eleventh season at that point."

But don't think the character's death and Dempsey's departure was taken lightly. "It was a difficult decision," Lee said.

The Grey's cast is no stranger to big shakeups — the show notoriously survived the controversial departures of original cast members Isaiah Washington, T.R. Knight, and Katherine Heigl, as well as the exit of Sandra Oh in 2014 after 10 seasons.

Grey's Anatomy Season 12 premieres Thursday, Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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