ABC to save nearly $10 million in Patrick Dempsey 'Grey's Anatomy' exit

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Dedicated 'Grey's Anatomy' Fans Want McDreamy Back, Launch Online Petition

While longtime viewers of Grey's Anatomy might be furious over leading man Patrick Dempsey's departure from the series, ABC might be cheering his exit.

Dempsey was among TV's highest-paid stars, earning what sources say was about $400,000 an episode - or roughly $9.6 million for a 24-episode season of the drama, which is produced by ABC Studios.

The actor, 49, was written out when his Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd was killed off in the April 23 episode, which was penned by series creator ShondaRhimes. Perhaps even more surprising was that Dempsey had another year left on his contract.

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ABC to save nearly $10 million in Patrick Dempsey 'Grey's Anatomy' exit
FILE - In this June 28, 2011 file photo, actor Patrick Dempsey attends the "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon'" premiere in Times Square in New York. Dempsey is returning home this weekend to receive an award for his leadership in caring for cancer patients Dempsey, most famous for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd in the television series “Grey’s Anatomy,” is scheduled to receive the Maine Creative Industries Award on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 in Portland. He helped found the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. He was driven by his mother’s battle with ovarian cancer. Amanda Dempsey died in March at age 77. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2013 file photo, Patrick Dempsey looks on from the pit area during qualifying for the American Le Mans Series' Petit Le Mans auto race at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. Dempsey's love affair with sports-car racing was always more than a frivolous dalliance. He's as dedicated on the track as he is on the set, and placed his sights _ from the eyes of one of People magazine's sexiest men alive _ on contending in the most prestigious road race on the sports car circuit. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt, File)
Cast members James Pickens, Jr., Kate Walsh, Patrick Dempsey, and Ellen Pompeo, from left, of "Grey's Anatomy" listen to a reporter's question during ABC's 2006 Winter Press Tour, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2006, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Rene Macura)
Kate Walsh, Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo, from left, with ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" react to a reporter's question during ABC's 2006 Winter Press Tour, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2006, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Rene Macura)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Can We Start Again Please?' - Secrets about Amelia's past addictions come to light and cause problems for her at the hospital; Bailey oversees Jo's first solo surgery; and Arizona must make an executive decision in Dr. Herman's absence. Meanwhile, the doctors spring into action when a couple arrives at the emergency room after escaping a fire, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Can We Start Again Please?' - Secrets about Amelia's past addictions come to light and cause problems for her at the hospital; Bailey oversees Jo's first solo surgery; and Arizona must make an executive decision in Dr. Herman's absence. Meanwhile, the doctors spring into action when a couple arrives at the emergency room after escaping a fire, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Can We Start Again Please?' - Secrets about Amelia's past addictions come to light and cause problems for her at the hospital; Bailey oversees Jo's first solo surgery; and Arizona must make an executive decision in Dr. Herman's absence. Meanwhile, the doctors spring into action when a couple arrives at the emergency room after escaping a fire, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Only Mama Knows' - Secrets from Ellis Grey's past come to light when Meredith watches old videos and reads through her mother's journals. Meanwhile, Maggie rocks the hospital with an unexpected announcement; Alex gets new responsibilities and Callie focuses her attention on the Veterans' project on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Only Mama Knows' - Secrets from Ellis Grey's past come to light when Meredith watches old videos and reads through her mother's journals. Meanwhile, Maggie rocks the hospital with an unexpected announcement; Alex gets new responsibilities and Callie focuses her attention on the Veterans' project on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Puzzle With A Piece Missing' - In this Maggie centric episode, she continues to try to make a positive impression at the hospital but finds herself in extremely unfortunate situations. Meanwhile, Richard continues to hold onto his secret and the doctors work with a dying woman who is being kept alive by her daughter, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Ron Tom/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - ABC's 'Grey's Anatomy' stars Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey and Patrick Dempsey as Dr. Derek Shepherd. (Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Go It Alone' - Cristina enlists Meredith to help her prepare an acceptance speech for her possible Harper Avery win and while Owen offers to attend the ceremony with her, she insists on going alone. Meanwhile, Derek feels overwhelmed between his responsibilities at home and at the hospital. April and Jackson come to a disagreement on children and religion, and Callie and Arizona try to reconnect in their marriage, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, APRIL 17 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images) GAIUS CHARLES, PATRICK DEMPSEY, JERRIKA HINTON, TESSA FERRER
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'I'm Winning' - Cristina is nominated for a Harper Avery and although most of her fellow doctors are ecstatic, she won't let herself get too excited. Bailey continues to work on a young boy without an immune system -- Alex considers making a change, and Derek and Callie work with a machine that can recognize emotions. Meanwhile, Richard gives the residents a pep talk about the exciting projects going on around the hospital on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, APRIL 10 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Danny Feld/ABC via Getty Images)
FILe - In this Jan. 25, 2014 file photo, Patrick Dempsey laughs with other drivers in the Fanzone area during an autograph session prior to the start of the IMSA Series Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Dempsey's love affair with sports-car racing was always more than a frivolous dalliance. He's as dedicated on the track as he is on the set, and placed his sights _ from the eyes of one of People magazine's sexiest men alive _ on contending in the most prestigious road race on the sports car circuit. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
Driver Patrick Dempsey looks on from the pit area during qualifying for the American Le Mans Series' Petit Le Mans auto race at Road Atlanta, Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, in Braselton, Ga. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR BREAKAWAY FROM CANCER - In support of Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer initiative, actor Patrick Dempsey, right, and Newbury Park cancer survivor Lynn Buchanan walk the Breakaway Mile at the ninth annual Amgen Tour of California professional cycling race on Sunday, May 18, 2014 in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Dempsey and Buchanan were joined by 150 community members for the walk. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision for Breakaway from Cancer/AP Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR BREAKAWAY FROM CANCER - In support of Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer initiative, actor Patrick Dempsey and Oak Park cancer survivor Nancy Gifford officially start the final day of the 2014 Amgen Tour of California professional cycling race on Sunday, May 18, 2014 in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision for Breakaway from Cancer/AP Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR BREAKAWAY FROM CANCER - In support of Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer initiative, actor Patrick Dempsey, second from left, Newbury Park cancer survivor Lynn Buchanan, left, Amgen scientist Joe Miletich, second from right, and actress Katherine Kelly Lang walk the Breakaway Mile at the ninth annual Amgen Tour of California professional cycling race on Sunday, May 18, 2014 in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Dempsey and Lang were joined by 150 community members for the walk. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision for Breakaway from Cancer/AP Images)
Patrick Dempsey and Jillian Dempsey attend the Jillian Dempsey Jewelry Launch Dinner, on on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 in Malibu, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision for Instyle/AP Images)
Honoree Patrick Dempsey accepts an award onstage at the 2013 Do Something Awards, on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP Images)
From left, Michelle Monaghan presents Patrick Dempsey an award onstage at the 2013 Do Something Awards, on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP Images)
Honoree Patrick Dempsey accepts an award onstage at the 2013 Do Something Awards, on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP Images)
COMMERCIAL IMAGE - Actors Dean McDermott, left, and Patrick Dempsey pose together at a John Varvatos private event featuring a Glenn Hughes performance, Saturday, July 21, 2012, in Malibu, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision for John Varvatos/AP Images)
COMMERCIAL IMAGE - Designer John Varvatos, left, and actor Patrick Dempsey pose together at a John Varvatos private event featuring a Glenn Hughes performance, Saturday, July 21, 2012, in Malibu, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision for John Varvatos/AP Images)
COMMERCIAL IMAGE - Actors Josh Henderson, left, and Patrick Dempsey greet each other at a John Varvatos private event featuring a Glenn Hughes performance, Saturday, July 21, 2012, in Malibu, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision for John Varvatos/AP Images)
FILE - In this June 9, 2011 file photo, actor Patrick Dempsey, left, and British driver Johnny Herbert pose for photographs in front of the Mazda 787 B, which won the race in 1991, in Le Mans, western France. Dempsey is producing and will be featured in "Road to Le Mans," a Velocity channel series that will follow the actor-race car driver as he prepares for the famed auto endurance race. (AP Photo/Vincent Michel, file)
FILE - In this June 9, 2011 file photo, actor Patrick Dempsey poses for photographs in front of the Mazda 787 B, which won the race in 1991, in Le Mans, western France. Dempsey is producing and will be featured in "Road to Le Mans," a Velocity channel series that will follow the actor-race car driver as he prepares for the famed auto endurance race. (AP Photo/Vincent Michel, file)
Driver Patrick Dempsey waits during practice for Saturday's Petit Le Mans auto race at Road Atlanta on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in Braselton, Ga. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
U.S actor Patrick Dempsey poses for photographs in front of mythical Mazda 787 B, which won the race in 1991, in Le Mans, western France, Thursday, June 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Vincent Michel)
FILE - In a June 25, 2011 file photo, Patrick Dempsey attends the German premier of the movie Transformer 3 in Berlin. Dempsey is bringing his passion for auto racing to television with a new documentary series. The Velocity channel said Thursday, April 5, 2012 that the "Grey's Anatomy" star will produce "Road to Le Mans," a four-part series about his competition in the venerable French race next year. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)
Actor Patrick Dempsey and wife Jill attend the 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon' premiere in Times Square on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
Actor Patrick Dempsey, left, and an unidentified woman, pose at the opening ceremony of the Moscow international film festival in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, June 23, 2011. The Moscow Film Festival opened with Hollywood blockbuster Transformers: Dark of the Moon. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)
Actor Patrick Dempsey, left, and an unidentified woman, pose at the opening ceremony of the Moscow international film festival in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, June 23, 2011. The Moscow Film Festival opened with Hollywood blockbuster Transformers: Dark of the Moon. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)
U.S actor Patrick Dempsey sits on a car during a parade on the eve of the 79th 24-hours Le Mans endurance race in Le Mans, western France, Friday, June 10, 2011 (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
U.S actor Patrick Dempsey poses for photographs in Le Mans, western France, Thursday, June 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Vincent Michel)
Patrick Dempsey arrives at the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday, June 5, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Patrick Dempsey arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala, Monday, May 2, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)
Actor Patrick Dempsey, right, and Jillian Fink arrive for the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS benefit at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, during the 64th Cannes international film festival, in Cap d'Antibes, southern France, Thursday, May 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Jonathan Short)
Actor Patrick Dempsey, right, and Jillian Fink arrive for the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS benefit at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, during the 64th Cannes international film festival, in Cap d'Antibes, southern France, Thursday, May 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Jonathan Short)
Actresss Jillian Dempsey, left, and her husband Patrick Dempsey arrive for the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS benefit at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, during the 64th Cannes international film festival, in Cap d'Antibes, southern France, Thursday, May 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Patrick Dempsey arrives at the John Varvatos 8th Annual Stuart House Benefit on Sunday March 13, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Katy Winn)
Patrick Dempsey, at left, and Jillian Dempsey arrives at the John Varvatos 8th Annual Stuart House Benefit on Sunday March 13, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Katy Winn)
Patrick Dempsey watches the Grand Prix of Miami auto race practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., Friday, March 4, 20111. Dempsey drives the number 40 Mazda RX-8 in the Rolex GT Series. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Rolex GT Series driver Patrick Dempsey prepares to autograph a cap and a tee-shirt at the Grand Prix of Miami auto race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., Saturday, March 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Actor Patrick Dempsey, a cast member in "Flypaper," poses for a portrait during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Actor Patrick Dempsey, a cast member in "Flypaper," poses for a portrait during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Driver/actor Patrick Dempsey watches cars go around the track during practice Friday, March 5, 2010, as teams prepare for the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Actor Patrick Dempsey and wife Jillian Dempsey attend The Avon Foundation for Women benefit gala at Cipriani's 42nd Street on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
Actor Patrick Dempsey and wife Jill Fink arrive for The Avon Foundation for Women benefit gala at Cipriani's 42nd Street on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
US actor Patrick Dempsey, center, is seen in the pits of the Ferrari F430 Advance Engineering team during the first series of trials for the 77th 24 hours Le Mans race, at Le Mans race track, western France, Wednesday, June 10, 2009.(AP Photo/David Vincent)
US actor Patrick Dempsey is seen in the pits of the Ferrari F430 Advance Engineering team during the first series of trials for the 77th 24 hours Le Mans race, at Le Mans race track, western France, Wednesday, June 10, 2009.(AP Photo/David Vincent)
US actor Patrick Dempsey, right, is seen in the pits of the Ferrari F430 Advance Engineering team during the first series of trials for the 77th 24 hours Le Mans race, at Le Mans race track, western France, Wednesday, June 10, 2009.(AP Photo/David Vincent)
US actor Patrick Dempsey, waving, is seen during a parade on the eve of the 77th 24-hours Le Mans endurance race in Le Mans, western France, Friday, June 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
US actor Patrick Dempsey signs autographs during a parade on the eve of the 77th 24-hours Le Mans endurance race in Le Mans, western France, Friday, June 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
US actor Patrick Dempsey is seen during a parade on the eve of the 77th 24-hours Le Mans endurance race in Le Mans, western France, Friday, June 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
US actor Patrick Dempsey is seen during a parade on the eve of the 77th 24-hours Le Mans endurance race in Le Mans, western France, Friday, June 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
US actor Patrick Dempsey is seen during a parade on the eve of the 77th 24-hours Le Mans endurance race in Le Mans, western France, Friday, June 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
In this image released by ABC, Patrick Dempsey, left, and Ellen Pompeo are shown in a scene from, "Grey's Anatomy," premiering, Sept. 25, 2008, at 9:00 p.m. EDT on the ABC Television Network. (AP Photo/ABC, Eric McCandless) ** NO SALES **
US actor Patrick Dempsey, left, and Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit pose for the media during the German premiere of the movie "Made of honor" in Berlin, on Tuesday, May 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Miguel Villagran)
Actor Patrick Dempsey kisses a lucky audience member during an appearance on MTV's Total Request Live, Monday, April 28, 2008 in New York. Dempsey is promoting the upcoming release of his new film "Made Of Honor". (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
Actor Patrick Dempsey makes an appearance on MTV's Total Request Live, Monday, April 28, 2008 in New York. Dempsey is promoting the upcoming release of his new film "Made Of Honor". (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
Actor Patrick Dempsey shows off his juggling skills during an appearance on MTV's Total Request Live, Monday, April 28, 2008 in New York. Dempsey is promoting the upcoming release of his new film "Made Of Honor". (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
Patrick Dempsey, from the ABC series "Grey's Anatomy" speaks during a news conference at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine, Monday, March 10, 2008, before an unveiling for The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing. Dempsey, who was born in Lewiston, provided the seed money for the center. (AP Photo/The Sun Journal, Jose Leiva)
U.S. actor Patrick Dempsey attends the British premiere of Enchanted in Leicester Square, London, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2007. (AP Photo/Nathan Strange)
May 17, 2006 - New York, New York, USA - K47884AR .ABC UPFRONT AT LINCOLN CENTER , NEW YORK New York 05-16-2006 . ANDREA RENAULT- PATRICK DEMPSEY(Credit Image: © Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Jan 28, 2007; Hollywood, California, USA; Actor PATRICK DEMPSEY at the 13th Annual SAG Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium Los Angeles Mandatory Credit: Photo by Paul Fenton/ZUMA Press. (©) Copyright 2007 by Paul Fenton
Jan. 28, 2011 - Park City, Utah, U.S. - Actor PATRICK DEMPSEY of the film 'Flypaper' during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, which runs thru January 30th. Sundance is the largest independent cinema festival in the USA, held annually since 1978 in Park City, it is the premier showcase for new work fr
LONG BEACH, CALIF. -- Patrick Dempsey during the media day for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) on April 6, 2010. Dempsey will be competing World Challenge during the Grand Prix. Photo by Jeff Gritchen / Long Beach Press-Telegram
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Few details have emerged about what led to Dempsey's departure, though in recent months he had been vocal about moving on with a focus on TV development via his overall deal with ABC Studios, where he has a racing drama in the works at SundanceTV.

Top stars leaving hit shows is becoming a trend this season. The CW'sThe Vampire Diaries - one of the younger-skewing network's signature shows -; is losing its leading lady. Star Nina Dobrevannounced April 6 that she would walk away from the Warner Bros. Television-produced series when her contract is up at the end of season six. And The Good Wife's Emmy winner Archie Panjabi decided to follow co-star Josh Charlesout the door this season for a 20th TV deal to star in a drama pilot.

While the departures creatively rock the series, they no doubt provide some cost-savings as all three shows have been getting a bit long in the tooth. The graying of Grey's, for instance, has inspired a wave of medical drama pilots in the works this season at the broadcast networks, while Vampire Diaries ceded its position as The CW's highest-rated series to Arrow and subsequently The Flash.

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