'Grey's Anatomy' Boss Shonda Rhimes Explains Why Derek Had to Die

Rhimes says, 'As painful as it was for me as a storyteller, ... it felt like that was the only way to make Meredith and Derek's magic remain true and forever frozen in time.'

AceShowbiz - Like Meredith [Ellen Pompeo], "Grey's Anatomy" fans have had a hard time to come to terms with Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd's (Patrick Dempsey) death. Still, series creator Shonda Rhimes defended the decision to kill off the beloved character, reasoning that it was the only way to preserve Derek and Meredith's true love.

"The decision to have the character die the way that he did was not a difficult one in the sense of what were the options?" Rhimes said at the 2015 Summer TCA press tour in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, August 4. She went on explaining, "Either Derek was going to walk out on Meredith, and leave her high and dry, and what was that going to mean? That was going to suggest that the love was not true, the thing we had said for 11 years was a lie and McDreamy wasn't McDreamy. For me, that was untenable."

She continued, "Meredith and Derek's love had to remain Meredith and Derek's love. As painful as it was for me as a storyteller, because I had never really thought that was going to happen, it preserved what felt true to me, was that Derek was going to have to die in order for that love to remain honest. Because I really couldn't have the idea that he just turned out to be a bad guy who walked out on his wife and kids be a true story. To me, it felt like that was the only way to make Meredith and Derek's magic remain true and forever frozen in time."

The decision to kill off Derek was shocking since Dempsey still had one year before his contract ended. However, Rhimes said the decision was mutual. "We had a lot of discussions about it," Rhimes revealed. "It wasn't easy or fun, it is never easy or fun. We've been working really hard for a long time together. We're family. Those choices and those decisions are never easy for any of us."

Also at the TCA press event, ABC president Paul Lee said of Derek's tragic exit, "It was great, wasn't it? It was great to see 'Grey's Anatomy' so relevant and taking the national conversation in its 11th season. It was a difficult decision. Patrick obviously has lots of interests outside. He's very big into motosport. Shonda decided that was the way to go."

Meanwhile, talking about her other show "Scandal", Rhimes was asked how Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) would handle presidential candidate Donald Trump. "Do you think she'd tell him to do something about the hair?" Rhimes asked Washington. Pompeo then chimed in, "You can send him over to Meredith and I can cut his vocal cords out."

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