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.
____©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.