The first question asked of ABC President Paul Lee, at a bi-annual news conference for TV critics Tuesday, was about the decision to kill off Patrick Dempsey's character from "Grey's Anatomy."
The actor played Dr. Derek Shepherd, nicknamed McDreamy, for 11 seasons on the long-running medical soap until his character died after his car gets hit by a truck.
When asked about the polarizing decision to kill the popular character, Lee responded by saying, "It was great wasn't it?" and quickly corrected himself to say, "It was great to see 'Grey's Anatomy' so relevant and taking the national conversation."
Lee went on to say that "It was a difficult decision. Patrick obviously has lots of interests outside," referring to Dempsey's career as an amateur race car driver. "Shonda (Rhimes) decided that was the way to go."
He said they've seen the pitch for season 12 and "the show reinvents itself again...We have no reason to expect that Grey's Anatomy' won't go on for many years to come."
"Grey's" new season will premiere Sept. 24.