Why Grey's Anatomy Star Ellen Pompeo Wasn't So Worried About Patrick Dempsey Leaving The Show

Meredith and Derek

There are long running shows, and then there's Grey's Anatomy. ABC's medical drama is in the midst of its 14th season on the network, and tonight just happens to mark the whopping 300th episode. Because of this achievement, ABC was been trying to get Grey's fans pumped, with the cast (especially Ellen Pompeo) doing a fair mount of introspection about the show's long journey. Now Pompeo has addressed the departure of McDreamy, and why she wasn't all that worried when Patrick Dempsey decided to leave after over a decade in the role. According to the lead actress, the loss of Sandra Oh's Cristina Yang was far more terrifying, making Dempsey's departure easier by comparison.

I really worried when Sandra Oh left. She was such a big part of the show. When the show didn't suffer when she left, then I wasn't worried when Patrick left.

I guess both the fans and the Grey's cast/crew got used to OG characters leaving after Sandra Oh's Cristina left Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in Season 10. So when Patrick Dempsey decided to follow suit and leave the show that made him a star, there was at least a precedent set.

The loss of Sandra Oh affected everyone on set, especially Ellen Pompeo. Meredith and Cristina's friendship was always at the heart of Grey's Anatomy. Because while the surgeons careers and love lives had various ups and downs, Cristina and Meredith were a constant. They supported each other's professional and personal lives, as well as the need to get dark and twisty with a bottle of tequila.

Meredith and Cristina

Ellen Pompeo expanded the trepidation she felt about losing Cristina Yang on the show to USA Today, saying:

They are each other's person --- and always will be. For me, the opportunity to see two strong, complex female friends grow together over the years has been one of the largest pleasures of working on and watching the show.

Cristina Yang's presence has certainly been missing in the past few years of Grey's Anatomy. Sandra Oh brought a complex and deeply ambitious character to life for a decade, and she's perhaps the most popular surgeon besides Meredith. But fans couldn't fault Oh for wanting to explore new options, free from the grueling TV schedule of the medical drama. The fandom has also been hoping she might return for a guest spot, but she seems disinterested in a role other than possibly the series finale.

And while Cristina got written off the show in order to pursue a dream job, Derek Shepherd's death shocked the audience. Many were furious as Grey's for giving McDreamy such a grisly fate, which manifested itself into disappointment in Patrick Dempsey's departure. One thing you can say about Grey's Anatomy fans: we're passionate.

Grey's Anatomy is currently airing its 14th season Thursdays on ABC. Check out our fall premiere list to plan your next binge watch.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.