On Thursday night's "Grey's Anatomy," Dr. Derek Shepherd -- the hunky character played by Patrick Dempsey -- died.
Instead, he died following a car crash -- after helping victims of another accident.
"Derek Shepherd is and will always be an incredibly important character -- for Meredith (Grey), for me and for the fans," show creator Shonda Rhimes said in a statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter
. "I absolutely never imagined saying goodbye to our 'McDreamy.' 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. His loss will be felt by all."
Intriguingly, Dempsey still has a year left on his contract. His character's death leaves his TV wife, Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), as the show's mainstay as it concludes its 11th season in May.
"It's been a remarkable ride," Dempsey told 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."
Of course there were tears, lots of tears
"Grey's" fans are still in shock.
People magazine ran an obituary
for the character. #McDreamyForever was a trending hashtag on Twitter. Tweets from "Grey's Anatomy's" official account
were filled with emoji of crying faces and broken hearts, as well as tearful images from the show.
Some chose to remember the good times, but for others, there was a big sense of betrayal.
Say goodnight Dr. McDreamy
But the show will very much continue -- not only does it have a few weeks before the 11th season is over, Pompeo is also signed through season 12.
The theme of this season, Rhimes had said
, was Grey's ability to stand on her own. Now without her husband -- who was already devoting his life to separate concerns as a presidential aide -- she'll truly have to do so.
"Grey's Anatomy," though not the powerhouse it was when it premiered in 2005, still does well in the ratings. For the week ending April 19, the most recent available, it was 20th in overall viewers and 12th among the desirable adults 18-49 demographic.
And Dempsey, who also races cars, isn't going anywhere. He has a development deal with ABC Studios, "Grey's" producers.