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Why Derek Shepherd Will Never Be Forgotten

04/28/2015 10:36 am ET | Updated Jun 28, 2015

No one could have prepared for the April 24th episode of Grey's Anatomy. Within a year, dedicated Grey's Anatomy fans have had to say goodbye to two original cast members. After Christina Yang departed the show during last season's finale, Meredith Grey lost her best friend. Now, she has lost her husband. Derek Shepherd survived a plane crash and gunshot wound to the chest, but due to the incompetency of surgeons on his case, he was killed by a car crash.

Show creator Shonda Rhimes left hints throughout the season about the possibility of his exit. When Derek left Meredith to work at the National Institutes of Health, Meredith learned that it was possible to juggle child-rearing responsibilities and a successful career on her own. Amelia, Derek's sister, happily filled Derek's position as chief of neurosurgery during his absence. The writers showed that Meredith and Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital do not need Derek to function.

Still, Grey's Anatomy will never be the same after his death. Derek was a constant source of charm and generosity. No other character on the show has the ability to make hearts melt with a single line. True to his nickname, McDreamy, Derek spoke and carried himself in a manner that seemed almost too good to be true. Shonda Rhimes and the rest of the Grey's Anatomy writers managed to craft a character that continued to remain likeable despite his missteps. In the beginning of Meredith and Derek's relationship, he lied to Meredith about having a wife. Normally, a lie of this magnitude would cause a character to be hated by viewers. But Derek is not like most characters. He made mistakes, but he always apologized for them and vowed to be better. Derek loved Meredith and Meredith loved him. To most fans, that was always enough.

Derek's famous line, "It's a beautiful day to save lives," reveals his impact on fans of the show. Derek was open with those he loved, smiled a lot, and was thankful for the little things. He taught Grey's Anatomy viewers to cherish every day.

As shown by the reaction on Twitter, Derek's death was heartbreaking to fans across the world. Many fans wonder how the show will continue without him. Ultimately, however, the show is called Grey's Anatomy. Meredith will always be the focus. Last season, Christina told Meredith, "He is very dreamy, but he's not the sun. You are." Meredith needs time to shine on her own. She has lost her mother, her half-sister and her best friend. She will survive the death of her husband.