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Rob Lowe Has Perfectly Rob Lowe-y Idea For How He'd Appear As Grey's Anatomy's McDreamy Years After Turning Down Role

Rob Lowe plays doctor on The Ellen Degeneres Show
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Rob Lowe famously turned down the role of Derek Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy, which likely turned out for the best for all involved. Fellow heartthrob Patrick Dempsey became the leading love interest, the neuro god, the McDreamy — a moniker that Lowe said was definitely not for him. The 9-1-1: Lone Star actor may agree Dempsey was the right man for the role, but maybe it was still the one that got away, and he recently had literally the best idea (or at least the silliest idea) for how he could still appear as a McGuest star on the longtime ABC medical drama.

The Parks and Recreation actor certainly hasn’t wanted for opportunities since turning down the role of Derek Shepherd. Although Rob Lowe (jokingly?) estimated that the decision cost him $70 million, certainly there are no regrets to be had, so sayeth fans of Parks and Recreation. However, seven seasons after McDreamy’s tragic death (and Patrick Dempsey’s exit from the show) Lowe had a pretty wild idea about how he could still reclaim the lost role to become a part of the Grey’s Anatomy canon, telling Insider

They should do a time-travel episode. I should play the alternative universe McDreamy. … [or] McDreamy in the metaverse.

I am not hating this idea at all. Alternate universes, multiverses and metaverses all tend to make my head hurt, but who better to tackle the subject on a metaphorical level than a brain surgeon? It’s not like Grey’s Anatomy always makes sense anyway — remember when Izzie had sex with a ghost? Maybe that was the nexus event that broke the Grey's multiverse open. 

There are lots of possibilities here. If we’re time traveling, I might just be inclined to go back to the time when the President of the United States asked Derek to come work for him. But in this scenario, Rob Lowe gets to Washington to find Martin Sheen as President Bartlet, and now it’s just The West Wing. (You know you’d watch that crossover.)

The Grey’s Anatomy writers have done some bizarro things in their 18 seasons so far, so I give them enough credit to be able to plot out a believable-enough way to wrinkle the time-space continuum. In a hospital full of equipment like X-ray machines, hyperbaric chambers, etc., I'd imagine there’s enough energy flying around the place to create alt-dimentional realities.

Maybe we cross into a world where Rob Lowe accepted the role of McDreamy and IS that version's Dr. Shepherd. Maybe in that universe Cristina Yang never left, and Alex Karev gave his wife (and the viewers!) a proper goodbye, and the musical episode was a hit! 

If we’re talking the metaverse, perhaps at some point long after Patrick Dempsey’s Derek died in Season 11, Rob Lowe would becomes his AI resurrection, allowing the ferry boat scrub cap to operate another day! Any tendencies for McDreamy 2.0 to glitch would be great fodder for dramatic brain surgery scenes, clearly.

Of course — because logic has no place in this conversation — we’d have to get Rob Lowe and Patrick Dempsey in the operating room together. What a battle of egos that would be!

I know, the probability that we’ll ever see Rob Lowe’s version of Derek Shepherd is next to zero, but hey, we never imagined seeing Patrick Dempsey reprise the role himself either! After McDreamy got taken out by a semi and incompetent doctors in 2015 (amid accusations regarding the actor’s “terrorizing” on-set behavior), he appeared in mutiple Season 17 episodes in Meredith’s COVID hallucinations. To this day, fans are still watching for signs that he’ll make another appearance.

Grey’s Anatomy will continue at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, March 31, on ABC, albeit without Patrick Dempsey or Rob Lowe. You can catch Lowe in action on 9-1-1: Lone Star at 9 p.m. ET Mondays on Fox. Be sure to check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what premieres are coming up soon.

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.