Characters come and go on TV shows, and Grey’s Anatomy is no different. Sometimes the characters leave but other times they are killed off. There are reasons for doing both. Despite the heartbreak and anger from fans, killing off Derek Shepherd was something that some Grey’s Anatomy had to do.
When a show has been on for so long, the writers and producers have to do something to shake it up. Grey’s Anatomy has taken characters out every now and then, but has never actually done a mass exodus. Season 10 saw the biggest number of main characters leaving, with Cristina and two interns leaving the show. The two interns were not even that well liked, and many fans say that seasons six and eight of the show were the worst.
New characters have been introduced since the pilot episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Some of those new characters have become fan favorites, with Callie Torres, Owen Hunt and Arizona Robbins quickly becoming characters that fans have rooted for on the show. To be able to focus on these new characters, old characters need to leave. A large cast for a TV show becomes too much to handle, and could lead to people being forgotten about.
Taking Derek Shepherd out had to happen for that reason, but Grey’s Anatomy realistically had to kill him off. Having the favorite neurosurgeon walk away from the hospital and his family would not have made sense, and would arguably have made fans even angrier than killing him off. After so many ups and downs with Meredith, it would have been unrealistic for Derek to walk away from two small children permanently.
The decision to kill off a character like Derek will not just mean a shake up for the cast, but also a change of pace for the characters. It allows to bring in storylines that have never been done in the past. Zola is at an age where she will notice that her dad is gone, and will have memories of Derek. It gives Ellen Pompeo, who plays Meredith, a chance to show off this grieving side of her where she discussing life and death with her daughter.
Other doctors have been through the loss of their colleagues in the past. Season six saw the death of George O’Malley and season eight and nine saw the deaths of Lexie Grey and Mark Sloan. However, this is the first time that the death of a sibling has occurred. Caterina Scorsone, who plays Derek’s little sister Amelia, will get the chance to show that grief. The Shepherd family had already been through so much with the murder of their father when they were children, so this will be even more heartbreaking for Amelia, especially with the addiction back story for her.
Shonda Rhimes does not just kill characters off for the sake of it. She has shown throughout the years that there is a rhyme and reason. When Chyler Leigh said she wanted to leave at the end of season eight, she and Rhimes decided killing Lexie Grey off was the best option. That has happened this time with Patrick Dempsey leaving. Grey’s Anatomy had no real option but to kill off Derek Shepherd this season.
Opinion by Alexandria Ingham