Grey's Anatomy alum Patrick Dempsey likely won't be on television this fall, at least not in a leading role. The actor affectionately known to fans as "McDreamy" filmed a CBS pilot, the political drama Ways and Means, but the network passed on the project for the 2021-2022 TV season. Mike Murphy and Ed Redlich wrote the pilot, and Dempsey was among the executive producers.
In the series, Dempsey played a powerful Congressional leader who lost faith in politics, so he starts working with a young congresswoman behind the scenes to stop the gridlock he played a role in creating. CBS ordered a pilot in February 2020, in the midst of the presidential primaries and just before the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns. The show was set to be produced by CBS Television Studios, with former CBS Entertainment chief Nina Tassler as one of the executive producers.
While the idea of Dempsey returning to the small screen might have been too good a chance to pass up, CBS ultimately decided not to move forward. One possible reason is a fear that audiences might just be tired of politics and not interested in seeing a show like Ways and Means in primetime. Another issue is that the show's appeal outside the U.S. would be severely limited, notes Deadline. In contrast, Sophia Bush's new series Good Sam could do better internationally as a medical drama.
Dempsey remains best known to television viewers as Dr. Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd on the first 11 seasons of Grey's Anatomy. He recently reprised the character in a handful of episodes during Season 17, appearing as a vision on Meredith Grey's (Ellen Pompeo) dream beach while she fights the coronavirus. His appearance in "Good as Hell," which aired last month, was his last of the season.
"The intention was to really give people some hope because they are such an iconic couple," Dempsey recently told Variety. "We’ve lost so many people this year, the thought that we’d have angels hovering around us taking care of us is a good message to send out in such a bleak world that we’re living in. So for all of us, it was a beautiful ending to this story. I’m so grateful that I did it and happy that the fans really loved it."
Since Ways and Means isn't going forward, Dempsey might have extra time on his hands next season. He told Variety he was open to coming back to Grey's if showrunner Krista Vernoff invites him. "Never say never with this show, right? I’m glad we did it this year," he said. "And Krista Vernoff did a fantastic job telling the story. It was just a great way to give people some hope."