Grey’s Anatomy: When Does DEREK DIE and Why? (INTERESTING FACTS!?)

It’s been over 7 years since actor Patrick Dempsey left the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, but many viewers are still confused about which episode his character died in and the reason he left the show.

The writers of Grey’s Anatomy have never been afraid to eliminate a prominent character, whether it be for the sake of the plot or the actor’s desire to leave the series. 

So, in which episode does Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) die? Derek Shepherd passed away in Season 11, Episode 21, “How to Save a Life,” after a tragic auto accident. However, the surgeons who operated on him made a great mistake, not the impact, which ultimately led to his death.

However, the passing of Derek Shepherd is the event that left the deepest impression on viewers. 

His death served as a watershed moment in the medical series and served to warn viewers that nobody or nothing is off limits in the eyes of the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes.

What could have marked the beginning of the end for Grey’s Anatomy was when Derek was killed off. 

After all, the television show does place a significant emphasis on the connection that existed between Meredith and Derek. 

Without Derek, the drama that existed between the two characters evaporates, creating a void that the other characters feel compelled to fill.

Also, Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo, is packing her bags and moving to Boston at the beginning of Season 19, bringing the whole program to its knees. 

Throughout the years, a lot of fans have been wondering who might possibly be at fault for Dempsey’s leaving, yet different sources provide different explanations for why he left. 

Let’s find out when Derek passes away on the program and explore the reason why Dempsey departed initially in the first place.

What Happens to Derek on Grey’s Anatomy?

After being engaged in a terrible vehicle accident, Derek Shepherd passed away in the episode “How to Save a Life,” which aired during Season 11 Episode 21. 

However, the force of the hit was not what caused him to pass away; rather, it was a simple error that was made by the medical professionals who operated on him.

Derek unconsciously starts to disclose his injuries as he is being treated at the Dillard Medical Center, which is notable in that it does not have a trauma center. 

His serious injuries have included a lack of language abilities. His intern, Dr. Penelope Blake, took over the management of the oncoming trauma, and Derek even complimented her brilliance; but, it was not enough to rescue him.

Penelope makes a suggestion to her attending that he receive a CT scan, but her attending thinks the bleeding in his abdomen is more important and decides not to perform the CT scan.

In Derek’s head, Penelope is the one who ultimately caves in, but Derek is the one who defends her against the attendees. 

During surgery, the physicians discovered that Derek’s right pupil has blown, and Derek realizes at this moment that he is going to pass away.

One of the most tragic endings in the history of Grey’s Anatomy occurs when a patient is a certified brain dead when the neurosurgeon comes late to the hospital.

The Reasons Behind Patrick Dempsey’s Desire to Quit Grey’s Anatomy

Due to the manner in which the program dealt with Derek’s passing, the controversial episode is still often brought up in conversation. 

Fans of Grey’s Anatomy first felt that his death was staged for the sole purpose of creating a shocking finale, but after Patrick Dempsey opened up regarding his leaving, it became clear why the character departed the show so unexpectedly.

The unofficial book How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy, published by Entertainment Weekly’s editor at massive, Lynette Rice, devotes a whole section to Patrick Dempsey’s withdrawal. 

In the episode, 2 executive producers rationalize Dempsey’s withdrawal for his “torturing” actions which left rivalries among the production team and actors on a stage set, particularly with Meredith’s actress Ellen Pompeo, who as well lately slipped away from the tv series. 

Though he began whining regarding his long working hours, even after everyone else had been there longer than he had been, the off-screen chemistry between Pompeo and Dempsey started to deteriorate.

He was also compared to a child who only wished to go outside to play, drawing parallels between his passion for racing cars and his impatience when appearing on the program.

Despite going to the extent of constructing alternate situations which would divide the actors, like having Derek remain in Washington so that he and Pompeo wouldn’t have to interact alongside, the producers and writers moved to great lengths to ensure that this would be the case.

According to the statements conducted by James D. Parriott and Jeannine Renshaw, when Rhimes allegedly saw Dempsey’s inappropriate actions on the series set, she ended his tenure on the show and even returned back to script the episode in which he was killed off.

However, despite the fact that some other reports suggest that Dempsey’s conduct was the reason for his departure, the actor himself maintains that it was the unpredictable schedule that caused a strain on his relationship with his family.

It came as a surprise to learn that Dempsey would be returning to the series in Season 17 as a portion of Meredith’s dream. This was especially the case given the rumored bad connection among the onscreen lovers.

However, his previous actions might be the reason why his participation in Season 17 was so brief.

ABC has announced that the premiere of Season 19 of Grey’s Anatomy will take place on February 23, 2023. Hulu now has the initial 6 episodes of Season 19 available to view.

Final Thoughts

In this article, you can find out when and why Derek Shepherd died, and for every true fan of Grey’s Anatomy like myself, it is most likely sad to find out that Derek eventually dies in the series.