‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Ratings Rise With Derek’s Death & It Proves That This Show's Power Is Just As Strong As Ever

As a hardcore Grey's Anatomy fan, I'm very familiar with hearing, "oh, is that show still on?" every time something headline-making happens in an episode. Often, it feels like I'm the only one of my friends who still watches, the only person who tunes in to see the antics of Mer, Der and the rest of the crew season after season. Yet apparently, everyone's been lying to me, because Thursday's Grey's episode was one of its highest-rated in months, with 9.4 million viewers tuning in to see Derek declared brain-dead. That's a lot of people supposedly not watching the show.

Although last night's episode didn't break any of Grey's all-time records, it did bring the show its highest-rated hour since the Season 11 premiere back in September. It also became Grey's most-watched April-May sweeps episode in three years, and produced about 20 percent more viewers than the season's average hour. In other words: last night's Grey's was big.

And it's understandable why. Derek's death, while a shock to all, had been hinted at all season; many viewers who normally might've skipped an episode here or there surely tuned in Thursday night just to see if that car crash in last week's promo really did result in the death of McDreamy.

The episode's success can't all be blamed on that one climatic scene, however. Despite the claims of many that "no one watches Grey's anymore," Shonda Rhimes' drama has been a steady ratings hit all throughout its 11 seasons. While recent years have certainly seen a drop in viewership from its record-making first few seasons, the show is undoubtedly still a major success.

Just look at the numbers: last year's season, the show's 10th (!), made Grey's the 15th highest-rated show on network TV, and its ranking in the coveted 18-49 range — number five —was the same as its very first year. Last week's episode earned more viewers than shows like NCIS and 2 Broke Girls , and thanks to the ratings of this Thursday's hour, it wouldn't be surprising if Grey's ended its season as one of the year's top-rated shows.

And it's easy to see why; sure, the show's quality has dropped since its early years, but it's still consistently one of the most entertaining shows on network TV. With each season comes new drama and new characters, but also realistic development and interesting story arcs for its original cast. Most shows have trouble holding viewer interest just four or five years into their run, but Grey's has managed to do it for 11 years and counting. That's incredibly impressive, and as the ratings have shown, it's clearly paying off.

So, Grey's haters, stop pretending that you don't watch the show — we know you're lying. Millions of people are tuning in week after week to witness the craziness that goes down at Grey-Sloan (and now Shepard?) Memorial, and not all of them are simply watching just because it's the only thing on or checking out the last five minutes before Scandal. There are plenty of Grey's fans still out there, and together, they're helping the show stay the massive hit it is so many years into its run.

Image: ABC