It's one thing to get big numbers for a "shocking" episode, but what happens if fans are so turned off by the big event that they don't stay tuned to see what happens next? "Grey's Anatomy" may or may not find out next week. Will just as many (or even more?) fans watch to see the fallout from Dr. Derek Shepherd's (Patrick Dempsey) death or give up on the show in protest?
At any rate, ABC seems pretty happy right now, since Thursday's big episode gave "Grey's" the biggest audience since the September 2014 Season 11 premiere. Last night's show averaged a 2.8 rating/10 share in that all-important 18-49 demographic, with 9.4 million viewers overall in the 8 p.m. hour. "Grey's" was up 33 percent in 18-49 from last week and, ABC crowed, the drama was also up "sharply" over its year-ago May sweeps telecast in the 9 p.m. hour (7.7 million and 2.3/7 on 4/24/14) in viewers (+23%) and young adults (+22%).
But can they sustain that high when so many fans seem frustrated about the writing of Derek's departure? He's not the only character to suffer a questionable on-screen death, but "Grey's" has been on the air for 10 years and Derek has been one of the main stars the whole time; it's not quite the same as, say, fans getting upset at the random death of Beth Greene on "The Walking Dead."
"Grey's" next two episodes, "She's Leaving Home" Parts 1 and 2, air April 30. Then "Time Stops" in Episode 24 and "You're My Home" ends the season on May 14. We'll have to wait and see how viewers react to this news, since it could go either way.