Derek’s (Patrick Dempsey) Season 11 death was utterly heartbreaking. But according to Ellen Pompeo, who portrays McDreamy’s wife Meredith on the hit ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy,” the demise of the beloved doc was absolutely vital in furthering the plot of the Shonda Rhimes-created medical drama.
“In order for a one-hour drama to continue, there has to be big upheavals,” Pompeo said during the 2015 Television Critics Association summer press tour. “Every time we’ve lost a major character – we’ve had such amazing characters on the show and every time we’ve lost one, it’s been devastating and sad. You think, ‘How can the show go on?’ But that’s how the writers find inspiration. So the loss of the big characters is exactly how the show does go on.”
So, how exactly will Derek’s death affect the Season 12 storyline of “Grey’s Anatomy”? Well, the actress, who will be entering her twelfth season on the series this fall, elaborated during an interview with Us Weekly what exactly fans of the long-running series could anticipate from the premiere episode, “Sledgehammer,” which is slated to air Thursday, Sept. 24.
"We just started the second episode today. The first episode has been focused on Meredith's career and her new living situation, who she's going to live with. So we're not so far in, and I know the focus this year is going to be how do you move on in the face of tragedy? And she's got three kids, so I guess to dive into her kids and work is the most logical place. But I've only seen two scripts,” the scrub-sporting TV surgeon divulged.
New Season,New Reason! Back @ #GreysAnatomy refreshed renewed & revitalized! Let's do this!!!
— Sara Ramirez (@SaraRamirez) July 15, 2015
Despite Pompeo's ambiguous answer regarding what life-after-Derek would look like for the widow, the showrunner teased viewers about the potential of Mer developing a love interest in Season 12. In June, TVLine reported that "Secrets & Lies" star Martin Henderson would be joining the cast as Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital new, hot surgeon. Fans immediately flocked to the news, questioning if theblue-eyed newcomer would replace Derek on the series as Mer's new beau.
"I have not planned to [introduce a new love interest for her] and that's not really the focus of what we're doing with her right now," Rhimes told E! News. "Meredith is in a rebirth and she's evolving. I'm watching the character do what the character's doing and I'll see where it goes."
But never fear, hopesless romantics! Just because audiences won't get to see Mer cuddle up with a new man in the Season 12 premiere doesn't mean a potential, future romance for the protagonist is out of the question.
"I'm not going to say we're definitely not doing it because I could be wrong, but that's not my plan right now," Rhimes clarifies. "I can't just drop a new guy in and be like, ‘There he is!' I keep seeing all these things that we're replacing McDreamy...and Patrick's irreplaceable. That's not really the point. Meredith's on a journey, she's always been a journey and I'm taking her where the journey leads her, so we'll see what that feels like."
“Grey’s Anatomy” will return with Season 12 on Thursday, Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC.