The McDream has become a McNightmare. Patrick Dempsey‘s Grey’s Anatomy character survived a shooting, a plane crash, and countless natural disasters — not to mention the loss of several friends and colleagues — but the last of his nine lives ran out on Thursday, April 23.
As detailed in Us Weekly‘s recap of the episode, Derek Shepherd was headed to the airport — after saving four lives, natch — when a truck slammed into his vehicle, sending him to a nearby hospital with serious head and chest injuries.
In a cruel twist of fate, it turned out that he needed a brain surgeon, a savior not unlike the kind he’d been for so many others.
By the time the doctors realized this, though, it was too late. He was brain dead — and it was up to his wife, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), to terminate his life support.
“I’m a doctor. Dr. Grey. I’m a surgeon just like my husband was. I know how this works,” she told the physician who approached her about the decision.
“Those must be the papers. The papers you want me to sign to decide what to do with my husband now that he’s dead, but not really dead,” she continued, stoically at first.
“Do we ship him off to a long-term care facility and cross our fingers and hope for fairy tales and magic?” she asked. “Or do I pull the plug, stop all curative intervention, discontinue all routine monitoring…terminate all life-sustaining measures, and behave as any sane doctor would behave? Does that about cover it, doctor?”
Ultimately, Meredith did what she knew she had to do and said goodbye to her husband. But not before flashing back to their first meeting in a bar several years earlier — the unforgettable start of their now-tragic love story.
After the episode, ABC shared a memorial video for Derek. Set to The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” — the soundtrack to many memorable Grey’s Anatomy moments — the tribute featured some of his best scenes with Meredith, from their first morning after to their Post-it wedding and beyond.
“It was magic. It’s beautiful,” Dempsey told Entertainment Weekly of his connection with Pompeo. “We’re like a married couple. It’s 10 years, and it was magic from the beginning. Chemistry right away.”
As for the show? “I think any time an original cast member has left, there’s always a void that will never be filled,” he said. “Shepherd is a beloved character. People don’t want to lose him. He’s been in their lives for over 10 years. But it goes on, and it will evolve.”
Indeed, Grey’s has persevered after the departures of several regular cast members, including Isaiah Washington, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, T.R. Knight, Kate Walsh, Eric Dane, Chyler Leigh, and Kim Raver.
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