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R.I.P to 'Grey's' McSteamy

Actor Eric Dane arrives at the premiere of

Actor Eric Dane arrives at the premiere of Warner Bros. 'Terminator Salvation' at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. ( May 14, 2009) Credit: Getty Images

We dispense at this juncture with the usually obligatory "spoiler alert" -- it's late Friday morning: The entire world knows what  happened on "Grey's Anatomy" last night. Mark Sloan — Eric Dane — is no more. Injured in the plane crash last season, put on life support, and offed with five minutes to go in last night's season opener, "Going Going Gone," one of the major characters of one of ABC's signature dramas is now officially out of the building.

It was a nice scene — touching, really — surrounded by Derek and Calle, and topped off with a flashback to the moment he was holding baby Sophia.

His exit was foretold in the wake of budget cutbacks (reported in various places over the summer) that beset the show, now entering its ninth season, and leaving fans to wonder: How much longer can this series go on? He was a core part of "Grey's." The man/child with the untamed libido who probably spent more scenes unshirted than shirted. But McSteamy and Dane were no mere dumbo sex symbols — baubles thrown in to lure the masses. Dane was better than that — a good actor who brought some heart  to this role and made it one of the most popular over all these years, beginning way back in Season Two. Oddly enough, he was also the adult more often than not — or in comparison to Karev's wounded teen act or Derek's on-again-off-again mope, depending on where he stood with Mere. Dane was also the comic relief — so good-looking, his schickt ultimately became a funny riff on that square jaw and perfect hairline. "Grey's" needed him over these years, as ballast to keep this rubbery tear-sopped soap afloat. (Can "ballasts" keep something afloat? Will get back to you on that.)

Yeah, it's only show biz and actors — along with their roles — move along. But there was something sad about seeing Mark leave this earthly realm last night. "Grey's" will never be the same and never could be.

Meanwhile, check out this clip of a famous scene; there's actually a website, McSteamyuniverse, that has somehow sidestepped ABC's copyright trolls and posted numerous scenes of Sloan over the years .?.?.

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