Grey’s Anatomy has gone through innumerable changes over the years – some good, some bad. In Season 12, the series had seen a decline in viewership following the season premiere, at least until this week. The reason for the increase? A heavy focus on the ramifications of major events that occurred last season, and the death that it resulted in.

Grey’s Anatomy saw a serious rating boost this week. All told, Thursday night’s episode - the series' 250th installment - drew in a total of 9 million viewers and a 2.4 demo rating, according to TVLine. In comparison, the season premiere brought in 9.55 million. Not quite as high, but better than the past few weeks' episodes.

Much of the success of this past week’s episode had to do with the way in which it dealt with some rather drastic blows to the series over the last year. As fans of the show are well aware, Derek Shepherd – AKA Dr. McDreamy – was killed off of the series toward the end of last season. The tragedy of his death was compounded by the fact that it resulted from malpractice when he entered the hospital following a major car accident. The current season saw a time jump in which much of the grief over his death was done off screen – especially by wife Meredith (Ellen Pompeo). Last night, Amelia, Meredith, and Maggie threw a dinner party, in which Callie brought a date named Penny. Penny – as it turns out – was actually the doctor who cared for McDreamy, and whose mistake ultimately led to his death. This made for some tense dinner conversation – as well as excellent drama – as Meredith confronted Penny over her mistakes.



If nothing else, the popularity of the episode highlights the shadow that McDreamy’s death has cast over the entire series. A member of the central cast ever since the beginning, McDreamy was one of the show’s most popular characters up until last year, and the handling of his death left many fans of the series unhappy. Killing off popular characters has always been something of a challenge for TV shows, going back to M.A.S.H and all the way up to Arrow in the modern times. It’s also arguably one of the reasons The Walking Dead has steered clear of killing off members of the long-term principle cast in quite some time – fan fallout. McDreamy’s popularity has most certainly proven itself to still be a driving force for the series, and fans will still tune in to storylines that involve him in some capacity.

You can catch new episodes of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET.

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