A Maine native just blew up your social media feeds.
Derek Shepherd — the brain surgeon hunk in the long-running prime-time drama “Grey’s Anatomy” played by Mainer Patrick Dempsey — died in tonight’s episode.
People Magazine called the death a “shocking twist,” given that the superstar Dempsey had just signed a two-year contract to play the character known by the nickname “McDreamy.”
“Derek Shepherd is and will always be an incredibly important character — for Meredith (the character’s wife), for me and for the fans. I absolutely never imagined saying goodbye to our ‘McDreamy,'” the show’s creator and executive producer, Shonda Rhimes, said in a statement, according to People.
“Patrick Dempsey’s performance shaped Derek in a way that I know we both hope became a meaningful example — happy, sad, romantic, painful and always true — of what young women should demand from modern love,” she continued.
In the emotional Thursday night episode, Dempsey’s decade-long run as Shepherd came to an end as the character was hit in a car crash after saving four other lives, leaving his aforementioned wife Meredith Grey the decision to take him off life support.
“It’s been a remarkable ride,” the actor told the website TVLine. “The worldwide impact has been extraordinary. It is incredible how devoted and passionate the fans are and I will forever be grateful and humbled by the experience.”
He was born in Lewiston and attended Buckfield High School and St. Dominic Regional High School in Auburn.
Dempsey first got a taste of Hollywood success in his 20s in movies like “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Loverboy.”
The actor has made it a point to use his success to benefit others in his home state, founding the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer, Hope & Healing at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. He makes personal appearances at annual bike rides to raise awareness and funds for the center.
So what’s next for Dempsey on camera? ABC released a statement saying, vaguely, that the actor “is moving on to pursue other interests.”
An avid race car driver, Dempsey still has a development deal with ABC Studios and an office on the Prospect Studios lot where “Grey’s Anatomy” is filmed, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Mainer is already working with producer Joannie Burstein and senior vice president of production Ben Tierney on a racing drama for the AMC sub-channel SundanceTV, the publication reported.
(Author’s Note: To those of you who have sent me nastygrams over the last 16 hours or so because I put the phrase “spoiler alert” in the headline, that was sarcasm. The news of this character’s death was announced in headlines on hundreds of websites, including nearly all major Maine media outlets, soon after it happened on last night’s show. Seriously, this information was on almost every square surface of the Internet and packed into all social media feeds within minutes of the broadcast. And yes, the vast majority of those headlines were something to the effect of “McDreamy killed off on ‘Grey’s Anatomy'” or, at most coy, “Patrick Dempsey leaves ‘Grey’s Anatomy.'” Unless you planned to avoid the Internet entirely while you waited to watch the episode on DVR, you would’ve found out. And if you avoided the Internet entirely, you didn’t read this blog and still don’t know what happened. We don’t project these posts into the sky, so if you read this, you must’ve been on the Internet. Getting angry at me doesn’t bring Derek back, OK?)