What episode does Derek die in Grey’s Anatomy?

Grey’s Anatomy already has a huge following on its original network ABC, even after 19 seasons completed and the twentieth already renewed by the company! The medical drama has gained an ever wider audience and following since it also streams on Netflix. Season 19 just dropped on the streamer on June 17, 2023.

Throughout the years, there’s been many cast exits, moments of happiness, and like the aspects of life, moments of heartbreak. There’s so much the characters have been through, and that unfortunately includes losses. One that really hit us in the heart was Derek Shepherd’s death.

I know, I know. Why relive the trauma? But some of you may be wondering what episode portrays this loss and when you can go back and see the heartbreaking story unfold. So how far back do you have to go? We’ve got the answer for you below.

What episode does Derek die in Grey’s Anatomy?

Derek dies in Grey’s Anatomy season 11 episode 21. “How to Save a Life” was one of the most devastating episodes of the series. If you’re still making your way through the show and haven’t gotten to this part yet, be prepared to cry!

So how does he die? Derek gets into a bad car crash, which causes multiple injuries. But ultimately, it was the mistake of the Dillard Medical Center staff that caused the beloved doctor to be declared braindead. While his resident Dr. Penelope Blake believed a CT scan was needed, her attending thought the bleeding in Derek’s stomach was more important and tells them to skip it. While in surgery though, it turns out his right pupil is blown and the neurosurgeon arrived late since the center didn’t have trauma care. That’s when Derek was unfortunately declared braindead.

While that was when we had to say goodbye to Derek and actor Patrick Dempsey, he did make a guest appearance in the season 17 premiere. When Meredith has COVID-19 and loses consciousness, her husband appears to her in visions.

Why did Grey’s Anatomy kill off Derek?

When news first broke that Dempsey would be leaving and his character killed off, one of the reason stated was that the actor was getting overwhelmed with the long working schedule and that he wanted to spend more time with his family. He is married to Jillian Fink and the couple has three kids.

But in 2021, a book called How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy revealed that there was tension going on between Dempsey and his co-star Ellen Pompeo (who plays Meredith), as well as tension between the actor and series creator Shonda Rhimes, per Variety. It seems he was ready to move on, and he made it clear on set.

All 19 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy are streaming on Netflix.