Patrick Dempsey -- who along with co-star Ellen Pompeo and Shonda Rhimes is the reason ABC is still in business -- is leaving "Grey's Anatomy."  

 His story just ended on the long-running primetime soap, and we have the statements: 

ABC:

“After 11 seasons on Grey’s Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey is moving on to pursue other interests. Dr. Derek Shepherd is an iconic character and we’ve been proud to be the home of ‘McDreamy’ and the ‘Mer/Der’ love story. The devotion of Grey’s fans throughout the years has been a testament to the creative mind of Shonda Rhimes and Dempsey’s talent. ‘McDreamy’ will be greatly missed and we wish Patrick the very best in his future endeavors.”

And showrunner Rhimes:

"Derek Shepherd is and will always be an incredibly important character — for Meredith, for me and for the fans. 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. Now, Meredith and the entire Grey’s Anatomy family are about to enter uncharted territory as we head into this new chapter of her life. The possibilities for what may come are endless. As Ellis Grey would say: the carousel never stops turning.”

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 As fans know, Friday's Entertainment Weekly was leaked via Instagram, with a photo spread that read: The Doctor is ... Out.

As fans also know, there was Thursday's dramatic episode. Very dramatic. 

 This refers to Thursday's cliffhanger (no spoilers here! but definitely here)  OK, you've just watched too: Derek is dead.

 Various tabloid reports, notably in the New York Post earlier this week, have noted that Dempsey will not be returning to the long-running series, saying  that he had been acting like a "diva" and that Rhimes refuses to tolerate divas, etc.  

 Dempsey has had some personal issues in his life, all widely reported,  and the annoying press has speculated about his departure for years. 'Grey's" without Derek Shepherd may seem like "Jeopardy!" without Alex, or -- for a more current reference -- "Empire" without Cookie, but ... actors leave all the time, and shows survive. Or don't. 

@Newsday

 As Meredith (Pompeo) said as the close of Thursday's Super Cliffhanger..."now that he's dead...but not really dead, do I pull the plug?"

Next week...we find out, but the answer seems almost anticlimactic now, no? 

 Meanwhile -- as noted - EW devoted a considerable amount of real estate in Friday's issue to this notable departure. Dempsey told the magazine this, concerning his next move: 

“I’m focusing now on developing and racing and being a father to my children. Those are my priorities." And as far as acting, “I want to try something different. But will I be allowed to do something different? Is Derek so identifiable that I can’t go on and be someone else? That will be the challenge. To see if people embrace me as someone else.”