Ellen Pompeo Says She Had ‘Something to Prove’ After Patrick Dempsey Left Grey’s Anatomy

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Ellen Pompeo is opening up about remaining on Grey's Anatomy after Patrick Dempsey's exit in 2015.

The actress, who has starred on the ABC juggernaut since 2005, chatted with Dax Shepard on the Monday, August 24, episode of the Armchair Expert podcast.

“When Patrick left, I had something to prove,” Pompeo explained.

Director Ellen Pompeo - Grey's Anatomy Season 14 Episode 15

“He left season 11, and then I was renegotiating season 12, so I could have left, because the man left, which is not the story I want to tell.”

“They had put that in my head for so long, that I was no good without him,” Pompeo recalled.

“I had to rewrite the ending of that story and, say, well, ‘Who’s right? Am I actually good without him?’ I had to take over that script and rewrite that story and prove to myself that they were wrong.”

Ellen Pompeo Dazzles In Beige

Pompeo has been open about the pay gap on the show between her and her male co-star on the show and how she was made believe the show could go on without her.

“I was just so beat down and meant to feel like they could do the show without me,” the actress told Shepard.

“Patrick Dempsey leaving the show was that for me. I was like, oh, I have a window here, now how are they going to tell me they don’t need me.”

Ellen Pompeo at an Event

“You don’t have him, so you can’t use him against me,” she said of negotiations to stay with the series.

“I was terrified,” she admitted.

“I’m super typecast on this show. I thought this show's a monster. I’m 39, I’ll never work again, I better just stay here.”

Pro Bono Day  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 18

In recent years, Ellen negotiated a deal that earned her $575,000 a year, giving her more than $20 million a year.

“There are so many actresses that have found a way to be entrepreneurs and I think it’s so inspiring,” Pompeo, who previously spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about negotiations to stay with the show.

“You know we didn’t set out for the article to be what it was, so that was interesting. I have negotiated several times on Grey’s obviously now,” she said.

The Grey of Grey's

“Like I say in the article, the only real power you ever have is if you’re truly, willing to walk away.”

“You have to get to the point where you have to do something several times before it’s the only way you learn. You have to do it yourself before you really learn the lessons.”

While Grey's Anatomy Season 17 is officially happening, Pompeo says that she will "definitely not going to go forever" on the series, but she is happy to remain on the show for now.

Ellen as Mer

“There’s another element to staying at a job for a long time. Not everybody can do it. You have to make sure you’re not boring,” she explained.

“You have to make sure you’re not phoning it in. There’s still this biological component that sort of takes over where familiarity breeds contempt.”

Remember you can watch Grey's Anatomy online right here via TV Fanatic.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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