Ellen Pompeo Is Offended Fans Think ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Can’t Continue Without Patrick Dempsey’s McDreamy

“Why can’t I just be the lead of the show the way Annalise [Keating] and Olivia [Pope] can?” Pompeo said

Ellen Pompeo doesn’t think “Grey’s Anatomy” needs McDreamy, a.k.a. Dr. Derek Shepherd, and is offended that fans believe the show can’t carry on without him after his death.

Season 11 of the ABC show killed off Shepherd after a horrific car accident, and backlash erupted on social media as fans were sad to see a fan favorite go after 11 years. The love story between Meredith Grey (Pompeo) and McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) was over — but Pompeo said that doesn’t mean the show is over, too.

“Let’s keep it really real for a second and say this is really difficult for my ego,” Pompeo told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s okay! We all have one!”

Pompeo compared Dr. Grey to that of Viola Davis’ “How to Get Away with Murder” character Annalise Keating and Kerry Washington’s “Scandal” character Olivia Pope, both central figures on ABC’s popular Shondaland and #TGIT dramas.

“It’s like, Annalise Keating carries the show, Olivia Pope carries the show, but somehow, Meredith Grey needs someone,” Pompeo said. “Why can’t I just be the lead of the show the way Annalise and Olivia can? Why can’t I be on that poster by myself?”

And the shows’ creator, Shonda Rhimes, agreed, and referenced a moment in which Sandra Oh‘s character, Cristina, tells Meredith that Derek had not been “the sun.”

“When Cristina said that, Meredith realized that she had been taking a back seat to allow this man to get what he wanted,” Rhimes said. “In an effort not to become her mother, she had tried too hard to become something less. What I loved about season 11 was her saying, ‘That’s not who I am.'”

Rhimes continued to say that the death of Derek’s character meant that Meredith could evolve as a woman, independent of a man.

“It was so interesting for me to discover that audiences, especially women, are so conditioned to believe that there’s a singular fairy tale that nobody stops to think that that might not be the definition of happiness,” she said. “Meredith knew that already.  We got to the point in the season when Meredith said, ‘I can live without you, but I don’t want to,’ which for any woman is a very powerful statement. It means: You compliment me, but you don’t complete me.”

The Shondaland shows return on Thursday, Sept. 24. The 12th season of “Grey’s Anatomy” will premiere at 8 p.m. ET, with “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” following shortly after.