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

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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
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)
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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