“Everybody thought because Patrick [Dempsey] was leaving that it wouldn’t do well, but it’s doing very well,” Pompeo said during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “It’s amazing how much you get done without a penis!”
After the audience’s laughter died down, she continued, “We miss him dearly, but yeah, the show is doing very well.”
Pompeo also explained how, even though Dempsey’s Dr. Derek Shepherd had been a major character since the show’s inception, his exit may have actually made the long-running Shonda Rhimes series stronger in a way.
“I think the change is part of the reason why the show goes on so long,” she explained. “I think people tune in to see, ‘What is the show look like now? What is Meredith going to do without Derek?’ I think they get so upset about the change, but change is precisely what everyone always needs to sort of get to the next place.”
And that constant change presents a unique new acting challenge for Pompeo.
“For me, too, it’s, ‘How do I act without him?’ It’s more challenging for me,” she said. “I’m more invested. I have to work harder to find my groove without my missing part. It keeps me more engaged. I’m more engaged this season than I have been in a long time, because for the fans, I want to make sure the quality stays good.”
She continued, “They’re there for us. I want to be there for them.”