First, Sandra Oh left [Grey's Anatomy](series:200746) in Season 10, after playing Cristina Yang since the show began in 2005. Now reports, and storylines, suggest that Patrick Dempsey (lovingly known as McDreamy), could be the next to go.
While Dempsey has hinted at a departure from the show before without it coming to pass (see comments he made in 2011 suggesting an imminent departure, followed by more and more contract signings), this time it may not be a false alarm.
Shonda Rhimes herself has suggested that "we might not see Derek for a while" and in November last year, Dempsey stated that he wants to pursue other projects and also have some time off to ride more, given his love of pro-cycling.
Plus, last week's cliffhanger has meant 'Don't Dream It's Over' could be the final straw for the pair. Derek has left town and could very well be cheating on his ever-patient wife.
'Don't Dream It's Over' should give us the answers to all our burning questions.
Is Derek Cheating on Meredith?
From this week's sneak peek we can see that Meredith is having her doubts about Derek being the perfect husband.
Although Meredith encouraged Derek to head off to Washington D.C to work for the President, things have not been looking good since he left. And now a woman has answered his phone!
Sure, is always suggesting relationship crises that actually never lead anywhere, but it does make sense that if Mer-Der were to break up it would happen now that he is over the other side of the country.
We'll have to wait and see if he really is cheating, but even if he isn't the relationship is clearly falling apart.
Dempsey Signed A Contract - But Will He Stay?
In January 2014, both Ellen Pompeo (Meredith) and Dempsey signed two year contracts. This stopped rumors about Dempsey leaving for a short while, but since his comments in November 2014, and Rhimes' admittal that we won't see much of Derek, the contracts have begun to seem more and more worthless.
Plenty of actors get out of contracts, especially when they were signed before the network had even signed on to make more seasons, like in the case of this commitment.
Another possibility is that Dempsey does stay in the show, but only as the focus of flashbacks in season 12, or perhaps as an occasional visitor to Seattle Grace, given the children, wife (ex-wife?) and sister he has left behind there.
While supporters of the coupling may not like it, it seems as though Mer-Der are most likely going to be on the rocks for quite a while to come.
Who Will End up Alone?
In an inspiring speech made by show creator, Shonda Rhimes, at the Human Rights Campaign gala in LA on the weekend, Rhimes revealed the inspiration behind all of her successful shows.
Be it [How To Get Away With Murder](series:1253258) , [Scandal](series:755840) or [Grey's Anatomy](series:200746) , Rhimes explained that, as some fans may have noticed, she writes "about one thing: being alone". As a child, she was often excluded and would resort to creating Shondaland adventures and friends that she could better relate to.
Given this overall theme, it would make sense for Meredith to end up spending some time alone, exploring her own potential and strength.
As we have seen recently, without Derek she has excelled at her work, and perhaps he was the unnecessary distraction that Alex (played by Justin Chambers) believes him to be.
Although that may not mean the end of Meredith and Derek, it seems fitting that Shonda Rhimes would want to show the way Meredith can cope with her time alone as a strong, capable single mother that has dealt with so much tragedy and overcome so many hurdles.
What do you think will happen in 'Don't Dream It's Over'?
Do you want Derek and Meredith to stay together? Do you think Patrick Dempsey is just playing with us? Let us know your thoughts about the future of Mer-Der in the comments.