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Shonda Rhimes took to the stage at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills on Tuesday and immediately addressed the McElephant in the McRoom:

Why did she kill Derek Shepherd off Grey’s Anatomy?!?

Watch Grey's Anatomy Season 11 Episode 21 Online
Watch Grey’s Anatomy Season 11 Episode 21 Online

"What were the options?" Rhimes asked a group of reporters.

"Either Der was going to walk out on Mer and leave her high and dry, and what was that going to mean? That would suggest the love wasn’t true, the thing we had said for 11 years was a lie."

It was pretty well known for years that Patrick Dempsey (who got over his departure very quickly) was unhappy with his role on the ABC series.

But his character’s death still came as a shock to viewers.

With a dissatisfied actor on board, Rhimes saw no alternative for how to extricate Derek from Meredith’s life. Except for the one she chose: death via 18-wheeler.

"Meredith and Derek’s love had to remain Meredith and Derek’s love," she said.

"As painful as it was for me as a storyteller, the only way to preserve what felt true to me was Derek was going to have to die for that love to remain honest."

We can see her point.

But fans have still pushed for a boycott of Grey’s Anatomy largely due to how the series handled Derek’s passing: by fast-forwarding a year and pretty much forgetting all about him.

Looking ahead, meanwhile, Rhimes teased that Grey’s Anatomy Season 12 will feature a three-month time jump and a "lighter tone," with Meredith now single and living with her sisters.