Many "Grey's Anatomy" fans were shocked and outraged by the death of Derek (Patrick Dempsey) in Season 11. ABC Entertainment Group chief Paul Lee talked about the past and future of the show during the TCAs press tour, finding the positive side in the dramatic twist's high ratings and huge fan reaction.

It was great, wasn't it? It was great to see Grey's Anatomy so relevant and taking the national conversation in its 11th season. It was a difficult decision. Patrick obviously has lots of interests outside. He's very big in motosport. Shonda decided that was the way to go."

Shonda Rhimes is the show's creator, and Lee said she has some great plans for the post-Derek Season 12, which premieres September 24.

We've seen the pitch for Grey's next season. The show reinvents itself again. She really is a remarkable showrunner and we have no reason to expect that Grey's Anatomy won't go on for many years to come."

Shonda did her own McDreamy death defense at the TCAs:

The decision to have Derek die the way that he did was not a difficult one in the sense of what were the options? Either Derek was going to walk out on Meredith and leave her high and dry and what was that going to mean? That the love was not true, the thing we'd said for 11 years was a lie, for me was untenable. Meredith and Derek's love had to remain Meredith and Derek's love. So as painful as it was for me as a storyteller ... the only way to preserve what felt true for me was for Derek to have to die."

They were put in a tough spot on that one, even if some of the complaints were about how he died and the way that played out. Anyway, it sounds like they are full steam ahead for Season 12 with the potential for "many years to come." But how much longer should this show go on?

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