Now that I've had some time to process Derek Shepherd's death on Grey's Anatomy , I've mostly come to terms that Patrick Dempsey is McGone from the medical drama. But many fans are still up in arms, even starting a petition for Shonda Rhimes to change McDreamy's fate. Although he definitely flatlined and died after Meredith unplugged her brain dead husband, there are still a few ways that Dempsey could return to the show.
Even though ABC said he is "moving on" to pursue other projects, Dempsey is still under contract to appear in Season 11 and Season 12, leaving room for flashbacks, alternate reality episodes, and perhaps some sort of homecoming in the series finale. I'm getting ahead of myself here, but the idea of 12 seasons of Grey's is insane — I don't know if it will survive past that without Derek and Cristina. So many main characters have died or left the show over the years that Meredith, Bailey, Richard, and Alex are the only ones from Season 1 left.
To help cope with the loss of McDreamy, I've outlined four ways that Derek could return to Grey-Sloan Memorial, ranging from the realistic episode or two to a longer arc in the show's final season, whenever that may be.
Flashbacks To Happier Days
This is the most realistic option, especially because Dempsey could have taped a few flashbacks with Ellen Pompeo before his last episode. Instead of compiling all old footage to go alongside his funeral, there could be a few more recent memories, perhaps from before he went to D.C. or just before his death. There will be a flood of memories as everyone says goodbye to Derek, so they don't even just have to be with Meredith.
Another Alternate Reality Episode
Grey's Anatomy hasn't done an alternate reality episode since Meredith and Alex were "married" in Season 8, so having one where Derek isn't really dead would be bittersweet. Maybe we could see what happens to them as they grow old together, The Notebook style.
Helping Meredith In A Tragic Time
Meredith is always getting herself into near-death situations, so in the right moment, she could "see" Derek and he could help her through. Perhaps he could even save her from the other side, or he could coach her through a difficult situation in ghost form. Well, maybe not, because remember how that worked with Denny and Izzie? Yeesh.
Returning For The Final Few Episodes
If Derek doesn't come back at all through this season or even next, maybe Shonda could round him up for the final few episodes. The alternate reality situation would probably work best for this, almost like a "choose your own adventure" for all of the characters.
Images: ABC (1); Giphy (4)