Fans of hit US television series "Grey's Anatomy" woke up Friday to a world devoid of "Dr McDreamy," a popular character killed off in a car accident, in a devastating blow to devotees.
Dr Derek Shepherd, played by actor Patrick Dempsey since the character was first introduced in the show's 2005 pilot, faced unexpected doom in Thursday's episode when he pulled over to help victims of a car accident.
After helping them into an ambulance, Shepherd gets into his own car to drive to the airport and is hit by an oncoming truck.
The grisly finale included a wrenching scene with wife Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo, who agrees to pull the plug on "McDreamy."
"I think it will be very shocking, the way it happens. It's really going to be powerful. But life is like that," Dempsey told Entertainment Weekly.
"I'm still processing it. This is part of the mourning process, the post-Grey's experience."
Dempsey, who only last year signed a two-year extension of his contract, said he was happy with the way his character's role played out in the end.
"It was just a natural progression with the way the story was unfolding. It was like, Okay! This was obviously the right time."
The show's creator, Shonda Rhimes, said that she never imagined saying goodbye to "our McDreamy."
The character became "a meaningful example -- happy, sad, romantic, painful and always true -- of what young women should demand from modern love. His loss will be felt by all," she said in a statement.