The contracts of the original Grey's Anatomy cast will expire after the end of the upcoming eighth season, meaning May 2012 could be the end for them.
They could all sign new deals, of course, but Patrick Dempsey recently indicated that - at least as things stand at this moment - he's not inclined to.
"It will be my last," Dempsey said in an interview with Vogue. "I do not know what's going to happen to the other characters but for me it's done."
Dempsey's rep later clarified the quote, but you can't help but wonder what the future holds for him, and whether Derek is an irreplaceable character.
The show will likely go on regardless as long as the fan base remains loyal and delivers decent ratings. But will his departure hurt that very cause?
It certainly wouldn't be the same, but the show also has a ton of characters in what has become an enormous ensemble cast, so you never know.
Tell us: Would you watch Grey's Anatomy sans Patrick?