Patrick Dempsey accused of ‘terrorizing the set’ of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ before his exit

A man smiling in a gray suit and tie
Actor Patrick Dempsey at the Berlin premiere of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” in 2011.
(Markus Schreiber / Associated Press)

Some fresh McDrama has surfaced in connection to McDreamy’s shocking exit from the long-running medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy.”

On Thursday, the Hollywood Reporter published a juicy excerpt from “How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy,” entertainment journalist Lynette Rice’s forthcoming book about the beloved series. It thoroughly details the circumstances of star Patrick Dempsey’s Season 11 departure.

At one point in the unauthorized account — which includes interviews with cast members and creatives — a former executive producer on the program accuses Dempsey of “terrorizing the set” ahead of his fan-favorite character Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd’s sudden demise.


“There were HR issues,” James D. Parriott said in the excerpt. “It wasn’t sexual in any way. He was sort of terrorizing the set. Some cast members had all sorts of PTSD with him. He had this hold on the set where he knew he could stop production and scare people.

“The network and the studio came down and we had sessions with them. I think he was just done with the show. He didn’t like the inconvenience of coming in every day and working. He and Shonda [Rhimes, who created the show,] were at each other’s throats.”

The “Grey’s Anatomy” showrunner explains how they pulled off that season-opening shocker — and why Katherine Heigl didn’t get the sendoff fans wanted.

Nov. 13, 2020

Another former executive producer on the show, Jeannine Renshaw, recalled observing tension between Dempsey and costar Ellen Pompeo, who starred opposite one another as love interests for years.

There were times where Ellen was frustrated with Patrick and she would get angry that he wasn’t working as much,” Renshaw said. “She was very big on having things be fair. She just didn’t like that Patrick would complain that ‘I’m here too late’ or ‘I’ve been here too long’ when she had twice as many scenes in the episode as he did.

“When I brought it up to Patrick, I would say, ‘Look around you. These people have been here since six thirty a.m.’ He would go, ‘Oh, yeah.’ He would get it.”

According to Renshaw, the “last straw” occurred when writer-creator Rhimes, who had received complaints, finally witnessed Dempsey’s alleged misconduct firsthand. McDreamy was later written off the show, killed in a brutal car accident.


In its Season 17 premiere, the medical soap once again left fans’ jaws on the floor by bringing back a beloved cast member from its early years.

Nov. 12, 2020

“Shonda had to say to the network, ‘If he doesn’t go, I go,’” Renshaw continued. “Nobody wanted him to leave, because he was the show. Him and Ellen. Patrick is a sweetheart. It messes you up, this business.”

By Dempsey’s account, he calmly welcomed the plot twist after 11 years of grueling, unpredictable production schedules. Though he claimed to have considered quitting the show previously, he ultimately decided to stay for the money and success the role of McDreamy afforded him.

I don’t remember the date [I got the news],” he told Rice. “It was not in the fall. Maybe February or March. It was just a natural progression. And the way everything was unfolding in a very organic way, it was like, ‘Okay! This is obviously the right time.’ Things happened very quickly. We were like, ‘Oh, this is where it’s going to go.’”

In contrast to the allegations made against Dempsey, multiple cast and crew members interviewed for Rice’s book depicted him as a kind and welcoming presence who cooperated peacefully when his time on the Emmy-winning series was up.

I very quietly left,” Dempsey said. “It was beautiful. It was raining, which was really touching. I got in my Panamera, got in rush-hour traffic, and two hours later I was home.”

Earlier this year, McDreamy made a buzzy return to “Grey’s Anatomy,” appropriately in a dream sequence. Dempsey is one of several actors who left the show and have since been woven back into the narrative.


A representative for the actor did not immediately respond Thursday to The Times’ request for comment.

Derek Shepherd is and will always be an incredibly important character — for Meredith, for me, and for the fans,” Rhimes said in the excerpt.

“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.”

“How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy” hits shelves Sept. 21.