Grey’s Anatomy Shocker
Oh No, She Didn’t!
How Grey’s Anatomy Producer Shonda Rhimes Killed a Lead Character and Pissed off the Internet
It happened suddenly last night and the shockwaves were felt as Grey’s Anatomy aired in different time zones from coast to coast – social media started buzzing and hasn’t stopped yet.
After 11 seasons of mostly compelling, sometimes ridiculous, but always entertaining episodes of the medical drama/soap opera, viewers have come to expect death and tragedy from Grey’s Anatomy producer Shonda Rhimes, but last night she outdid herself with the outrageous, upsetting death of her leading man: everyone’s favourite brain surgeon and perfect husband, Derek “McDreamy” Shepard.
The only indication that Rhimes had something brewing with actor Patrick Dempsey’s storyline was his absence from much of this past season as Dr. Shepard was often in Washington, D.C. working on a government project, only returning to settle his wife’s doubts that he might be cheating on her.
It was a hell of a red herring and nicely played, Ms Rhimes! When Meredith couldn’t get a hold of her husband for most of last week’s episode and the show closed with police car lights visible outside her home, viewers got a head’s up that there was going to be a plot turn in the Derek and Meredith storyline, but nobody suspected that Rhimes was going to bump him off so mercilessly.
And the crowd went wild
Fans lost their minds when the episode was over. Throughout the episode, even after the sudden second car accident that struck Derek as he fumbled for the phone in his car, there was the assumption that the good doctor would be saved. A false “dream scene” reunited Meredith with a conscious Derek, and hearing the doctor’s voice-over even while unconscious gave viewers some hope that there was still a way to find a happy ending. But there wasn’t.
Starting from the east coast, Twitter reacted with shock, vocalizing their dismay and posting selfies of themselves crying, calling Rhimes “a monster,” and suggesting they would have to take off work, “due to a death in the family.” Many swore they would stop watching the show altogether. As news spread to the west where the show aired three hours later, fans were also annoyed about the spoilers being shared before they got to see the episode for themselves.
What seemed to upset audiences everywhere, however, was the short shrift that they felt this leading character received after a decade of being a central component to the show’s success.
A history of tragedy
Many important characters have exited the hospital doors of Seattle Grace Mercy/Grey-Sloan Memorial over the show’s history. So while fans have come to expect some uncertainty, no one suspected that Rhimes would fatally harm either half of her romantic super-couple. There could be bombs and shootings and plane crashes, but in the end, audiences thought that at least they could depend on the love between Dr. Grey and Dr. Shepard as a given; a stable base upon which to set any number of dramatic circumstances.
So viewers stuck with the show, through the sudden death of George O’Malley, the death of Denny Duquette (another character Rhimes killed off prematurely and had to bring back as ghost to placate fans), and the brutal deaths of Lexie Grey and Mark “McSteamy” Sloan.
Fans endured the silliness of a ghost romance and then Izzie Stevens’ quick marriage to Alex Karev, ending with a cancer diagnosis that led her to flee him and the hospital (and the show).
They didn’t blink at Preston Burke’s sudden departure (due in reality to actor Isaiah Washington’s infamous comments about a co-star), standing up his true love Cristina Yang at their wedding with no real explanation, and then just shook their heads at Sandra Oh’s hasty exit years later as Yang impetuously leaves for a position at an elite hospital in Switzerland. Most of these characters didn’t get a proper send off.
But did Derek Shepard deserve such a fate? Aren’t fans entitled to more than Derek’s swift demise after 11 seasons of dedication? Let us know what you think!