Patrick Dempsey was the most famous cast member when “Grey’s Anatomy” debuted, thanks to the 1987 teen romcom “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Actors and producers gushed about working with the charming Dempsey — at least early on in the show — according to Lynette Rice’s book. However, the show’s 11th season was proving to be more difficult. Dempsey took a different turn and appeared to have senioritis. It made things more difficult for his colleagues.
“There were HR issues,” executive producer James D. Parriott told Rice, per The Hollywood Reporter, clarifying that they weren’t sexual in nature. “He sort of was terrorizing the set. Some cast members had all sorts of PTSD with him. … I think he was just done with the show.”
Dempsey was tired after having appeared in more than 250 episodes since the pilot. “It’s 10 months, 15 hours a day,” Dempsey said that he remembered. “Doing that for 11 years is challenging.” Others, such as Pompeo, understand that it’s just business. There was contention between the two leads: Pompeo would get angry because “she had twice as many scenes in the episode” as Dempsey did, according to producer Jeannine Renshaw, but Dempsey would complain about having to stay late. “He’s like a kid,” Renshaw stated. “He’s the kid in class who wants to go to recess.”
Renshaw said that the final straw was when Shonda Rhimes, creator of Shonda Rhimes, saw Dempsey’s behavior for herself. “Shonda had to say to the network, ‘If he doesn’t go, I go.’” Whoa — even more dramatic than on-screen.