‘It’s A Beautiful Day to (Not) Save Lives’ – Dr. Derek Shepherd

Hey Grey’s Anatomy fans – how ya doin? Have you gotten over the emotional trauma that was last night’s episode? This is a safe space to talk about your feelings.

PS: IF YOU WATCH GREY’S AND HAVEN’T SEEN THE EPISODE YET OR HAVEN’T, LIKE, BEEN ON THE INTERNET STOP READING. STOP READING NOW. COME BACK LATER. OKAY, BYE.

Hello. Welcome back. For today’s post, I’m just using it as my soapbox to talk about what happened last night, because really, isn’t that what the Internet is for? I have a lot of problems with the departure of Patrick Dempsey/Dr. Derek ‘McDreamy’ Shepherd, but I also am slightly okay with it. But first things first.

Because of my job, I have to monitor what’s happening with entertainment news every minute. Early afternoon on Thursday, someone on Instagram posted a photo of an article in Entertainment Weekly featuring Patrick Dempsey with the title “The Doctor Is … Out” and it’s his first exit interview after his last episode – which airs on Thursday night. Apparently some subscribers get EW issues on Thursdays, while most people get it on Fridays, hence, it wouldn’t have been a spoiler if the issues had arrived at the end of the week. This got picked up, Entertainment Weekly was all, sorry, y’all, and I was annoyed because I got spoiled on Thursday’s episode. I hate spoilers.

Then the clock hit 6pm PST (I work until 7pm) and, again, remember I have to monitor entertainment news, my RSS feed and Twitter feed were BLOWING UP with posts about how not only was it Patrick Dempsey’s last episode, but they FREAKING KILLED HIM OFF. Usually, when something like this happens, there are headlines that say like ‘[SPOILER] Leaves ::insert show here::’ or ‘This Really Just Happened on ::insert show here::’. However, this time around, it was one right after the other that read: ‘Shocking Grey’s Anatomy death!’, ‘Original cast member leaves Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Shocking Grey’s Anatomy Accidental Death’, and straight up: ‘McDreamy Is Dead! Patrick Dempsey Killed off Grey’s Anatomy’. Thanks, People magazine. It was legitimately impossible for me to avoid spoilers – even more so because I had to write a story about it. So I mean, I guess I didn’t really know how he died.

Fast forward to the actual episode. Brief recap: Derek is on his way to the airport (to quit his job in D.C. and move back to Seattle) and he’s tailgated by a sports car weaving in and out, and the car eventually hits the SUV in front of Derek, and both cars flip over, while Derek stops to a grinding halt. Basically he manages to save everyone’s lives, makes friends with the young girl who’s not injured and played Sydney on Parenthood, one car caught on fire, police and firemen saw the smoke signals and came to the rescue. Derek stays behind and waits until all the mess is cleaned up for some reason and as he’s making a U-Turn to go back home, Meredith calls, but his phone is lost somewhere in the crevices, and a tractor-trailer comes and smacks into him. Derek gets sent to a hospital that’s NOT Grey-Sloan, and because they’re not properly trained/don’t listen to the female intern doctor/make poor decisions, Derek is essentially brain dead. Meredith shows up, knows exactly what’s happening, knows she has to lit’rally pull the plug. #RIPDerek. (So that wasn’t that brief)

I managed to keep it together until the end of the episode when I found myself bawling when she has to watch him die. In the background, a cover of The Frey’s How To Save a Life is playing – a song call back to season two, when Derek is about to cut into someone’s brain and says, “It’s a beautiful day to save lives”, which he told Sydney from Parenthood earlier. Then there’s a montage of all of MerDer’s best moments and bye.

Ok so my initial thought was:

Then I began to wonder why Shonda decided to kill him off. Last January, both Ellen Pompeo and Patrick signed contracts to be on Grey’s until the 2015-2016 season, even though it hadn’t been picked up yet. Why would he leave with a year left in his contract? Furthermore, Patrick has publicly said he’d be on the show until the end. Then, there were rumors that he and Shonda were not seeing eye to eye. AND he had been gone in “D.C.” for most of the season. All signs were kind of pointing to ‘Yes’ he is leaving the show, but I would NEVER had expected Shonda to kill him off.

Which lead me to thinking that this episode is officially Grey’s Jumping the Shark.

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While many believe Grey’s hasn’t been good since the end of season six (you know the finale where Derek was shot by a crazy gunman seeking revenge), I will say there have been a number of good episodes since. It just hasn’t been the same. The show has been on for 11 seasons, and there have been many cast changes, so it’s never going to be the gut-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat, hearts-in-your-eyes drama that it was in seasons one and two. Now that Derek’s gone, there are only like four original cast members left. Moreover, there’s only one half of MerDer left.

Meredith and Derek are one of TV’s most beloved couples – just imagine if Jim Halpert died unexpectedly or Ross Geller or Sam from Cheers or Fitz (DON’T GET ME STARTED ON SCANDAL). Removing such an important element of a beloved show like Grey’s could potentially hurt the show more than it can help.

That being said, I get why they killed him off. It was getting boring quite frankly (see: hasn’t been good since season 6), and they need something to stir the pot a bit. When Sandra Oh left at the end of last season, she moved to Switzerland (neutral country) with the possibility of her coming back. It was interesting to see what would happen this season without Meredith’s person by her side. But that still wasn’t enough to create the same level of drama and interest as before. So I get it, writers, I get it. But from a fan’s perspective…

This is reminiscent of How I Met Your Mother all over again – except this isn’t the series finale. Here’s what we do know – next week is the season finale, and all the doctors at Grey-Sloan-O’Malley-Webber-Yang-Stevens-Montgomery-Shepherd Memorial Hospital have to say one finale goodbye to Derek. It puts them in a much more interesting position than when Yang left, because she still exists and is doing her thing. Derek’s departure was sudden. He left behind a wife and two kids, a staff who admired him. How are they all going to deal with his death? We all saw what happened after the plane crash (if you watched past season 6). They all had PTSD. What kind of mark will Derek leave on them?

One last thing and I’ll end my rant (thanks for sticking with me!) – before Cristina left, she told Meredith to not let Derek dictate her own life and hopes and dreams. In some way, it was a foreshadowing of what just happened, but it’s also a reminder that Meredith, a self-professed dark and twisty person, is more than Derek Shepherd’s wife. She’s Dr. Meredith Grey. She has seen a lot in her life, and she doesn’t let it effect her too much. Will Derek’s death finally be the thing that breaks her down? Will Cristina be there to pick up the pieces? Will Ellen Pompeo stay on past season 12? Did Shonda just issue Grey’s its own D.O.A.???

Sound off, fam! What do you think will happen next??
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Actors Just Say ‘No’: A Story of What Could Have Been

Rob Lowe’s new book, Love Life, comes out this week and just like his first memoir, he reveals a lot about his personal life and career. One of the new revelations is about how he passed on the role of Derek Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy. Not only did he turn the part down, he turned it down to star in Dr. Vegas. Yeah, exactly.

He writes: “I got an urgent call from the producers of a potential new show for ABC called Grey’s Anatomy. I agreed to meet with the people making Grey’s Anatomy. I had read it and loved it. The writing was crisp, real and very entertaining, and it’s always been a good idea to hear out talented people. ‘We would be thrilled if you would play Dr. Derek Shepherd,’ they said right off the bat. I was torn. Grey’s was a much better script; in fact, there was no comparison… (but) I chose Dr. Vegas. The odds were just too stacked.”

Patrick ‘McDreamy’ Dempsey was offered the part instead, who is obviously still roaming the halls of Seattle Grace Mercy West Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, while Dr. Vegas was cancelled after five episodes.

So in the spirit of ‘what could have been’, here a look at some other celebs who either turned down or were considered for an iconic role, but never came to fruition. Also please note my *superior* photoshopping skills

Jennifer Love Hewitt as Robin Scherbatsky (How I Met Your Mother)

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Finale controversies aside, just think about Robin Scherbatsky played by anyone else but the talented Cobie Smulders. She’s gorgeous but still has that ‘hang with the guys’/tomboy attitude in her that was obviously instilled at a young age. Creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas did a Reddit AMA back in February and they revealed that Jennifer Love Fefferman Hewitt was originally offered the role (which would have also made the whole cast extremely 90s throwback TV), but she decided to do The Ghost Whisperer instead. Thank GOD she declined the offer, because can you imagine if Robin Scherbatsky wasn’t Canadian?!

Katie Holmes as Buffy Summer (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)

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To be honest, I’ve never watched a single episode of Buffy (I know, I know), but as avid readers of this blog, you might be familiar with my recent viewings of Dawson’s Creek, which is why it’s fascinating to me that Katie Holmes was almost chosen to be a kick-ass heroine. Katie turned the role down to go to high school, which was for the best. Besides getting a solid education, I bet it helped her to prepare to play a moody, annoying teen on TV.

Craig T. Nelson as Jay Pritchett (Modern Family)

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Do you watch Parenthood? If not, WHY and you should. Coach alum Craig T. Nelson plays the patriarch of the Braverman family, aka the family I would want to be in if ever given the option. That or the Taylors from another Katims show, Friday Night Lights. Anyways, before Parenthood, Craig was offered the role of Jay Pritchett, the patriarch on Modern Family. He apparently asked for too much money that ABC wasn’t willing to hand over, and ended up passing and taking Parenthood instead. While Craig is fantastic as Zeek Braverman, Ed O’Neill used his role as Jay to prove he’s not an idiot like on Married… With Children – and has three Emmy noms and three SAG Awards to prove it.

Gillian Anderson as Lady Cora (Downton Abbey)

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Listen, Lady Cora is probably my least favorite character on Downton (yes, that includes Edith and Thomas). But I feel like I would have maybe disliked her even more if Gillian Anderson hadn’t turned down the role (that eventually went to Mary McGovern). Both Mary and Gillian fall under the category of ‘American actresses or spend so much time in England they might as well be British’ (see: Madonna), but I don’t know, I just can’t see Gillian living in the world of Downton.

Pamela Anderson as Dana Scully (The X Files)

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Speaking of which, Chris Carter and the rest of The X Files team were originally looking for what  Gillian describes as “someone bustier, taller, leggier than me. They couldn’t fathom how David and me could equal success… At the beginning, nobody trusted that I could do anything”. Who knows whether Pamela Anderson went as far as auditioning but that show would’ve been completely different than what it turned out to be. And maybe even Californication: the Prequel.

Henry Winkler as Danny Zuko (Grease)

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Because, obviously.

John Travolta as Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump)

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Luckily Henry Winkler’s pass was a win for John Travolta, but later in life, he would be the passee (?) when he turned down the iconic movie role of Forrest Gump. John later admitted it was a mistake. Ya think? Apparently Bill Murray and Chevy Chase also turned down the role, which is just boggling to me, because like Pam Anderson as a possible Dana Scully, it would have completely changed the tone of the film. Not to mention, I don’t think the film winning so many Oscars – including Best Picture – would’ve been possible.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Cher Horowitz (Clueless)

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SMG had her chance to be the fashionable, lovable ditz of the 90210 zip code but had to turn it down because of scheduling conflicts with her stint on All My Children. Let’s be real, she would have been great in this role.

Bette Midler as Sister Mary Clarence (Sister Act)

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People make mistakes, as seen from pretty much everyone above. But I imagine it would be that much harder if you turn down a role that was not only written for you in mind, but went on to spawn a sequel and a classic for 90s kids everywhere.

I’ve made so many (mistakes). Oh my God, it’s all so tragic. But it’s best to forget those and put them behind me. Unfortunately, my husband never lets me forget them. There was Sister Act, which was written for me, but I said: ‘My fans don’t want to see me in a wimple.’ I don’t know where I got that from. Why would I say such a thing? So Whoopi [Goldberg] did it instead and, of course, she made a fortune. Then she went on and did Sister Act 2. I also didn’t do Misery and Kathy Bates won an Oscar for it. That’s not to say I would have. It was so violent and I had no relation to it. I was afraid. – Bette Midler {x}

Hey, like Tim Riggins says, No Regrets, y’all.

Tom Hanks as Jerry Maguire (Jerry Maguire)

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You know you’ve hit at least a moderate level of success when screenwriters write an entire movie with you in mind as the lead role. By the time Jerry Maguire came out in 1996, Tom Hanks had long-been an A-lister with two (consecutive) Oscars for Best Actor. So when you’re Tom Hanks, you have the luxury of turning down roles that are exceptional. Unfortunately (or fortunately for Tom Cruise) the timing wasn’t right for Hanks, as he was busy directing That Thing You Do (GREAT MOVIE) at the time. But everyone’s fave celeb admitted that the role was perfect for Tom Cruise, telling Access Hollywood, “I think you look at it now and it couldn’t have been anybody other than Tom Cruise. It’s the way the movie’s operated. I don’t think anybody would look at that now and say, ‘That movie was not perfect.'”

Tom Cruise as Ren McCormack (Footloose)

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Scheduling conflicts tend to be the big problem for high-demand actors, as Tom Cruise could’ve been Ren in dance musical Footloose, if it were not for his movie All the Right Moves. You know who had all the right moves? Kevin Bacon. God Bless America.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Dirk Diggler (Boogie Nights)

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Oh man this is probably the most disappointing of all, in terms of what um… is revealed in Boogie Nights. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some Mahky Mahk, but it could’ve been Leo. In 1997. That’s Titanic era, you guys. But Leo recognizes his mistake, admitting it’s the worst decision he made in his career to turn that role down. He told GQ, “I’m a huge fan of (director) Paul Thomas Anderson but the first time I met him for that role I hadn’t really seen much of his previous work. Now I love that movie.” At least these two were able to bring the hotness later in life to The Departed.