On April 23, 2015, fans of Grey’s Anatomy experienced a life-altering day. The unexpected demise of Dr. McDreamy, portrayed by the charming Patrick Dempsey, left many devastated. Prior to his iconic role on the medical drama, Dempsey captured hearts as the nerdy teenager Ronald Miller in the 1987 romantic comedy, Can’t Buy Me Love.
In 2013, Dempsey hinted at the possibility of leaving the show, but in 2014, Entertainment Weekly reported that he and his co-star Ellen Pompeo, who portrays Meredith, signed a new two-year contract, securing his presence until at least 2016. The details surrounding Dempsey’s departure from the hit series were shrouded in mystery, leaving even those unfamiliar with the show wondering about the reasons behind it.
According to reports, Dempsey, a father of three, reached his breaking point and began exhibiting disruptive behavior on set. In an interview for the book “How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy” (2021), Dempsey revealed his resentment toward the demanding schedule of Grey’s Anatomy. He described the challenges of working 10 months a year, 15 hours a day, without a fixed schedule. The unpredictability of his work affected his ability to spend quality time with his children, leaving him feeling frustrated. Despite acknowledging his fortunate compensation, he felt conflicted about complaining given his privileged position.
The events that transpired in early 2015 may shed light on his on-set behavior. On January 23, 2015, Radar Online broke the news that Dempsey’s marriage was on the verge of ending. While participating in a 24-hour race event in Daytona Beach, Florida, Dempsey’s wife of 15 years at the time, Jillian Fink, filed for divorce. In response, Dempsey chose to prioritize his role as a husband and father, leading him to leave his character, Dr. McDreamy, behind. Reflecting on the potential dissolution of his marriage, Dempsey admitted to feeling apprehensive and expressed his commitment to working on their relationship.
Dempsey’s love story with Jillian Fink began in 1994 when he, then a 28-year-old actor earning recognition for his roles in Can’t Buy Me Love and Loverboy (1989), entered the Delux salon. Fink, the owner and stylist, initially thought his appointment was a prank orchestrated by an employee. However, her surprise quickly turned to delight upon seeing Dempsey in person.
Their relationship, reminiscent of the romantic comedies in which Dempsey often starred, encountered complications due to their existing partners at the time. After three years of haircuts and conversations, Dempsey and Jillian eventually found their way to each other. They tied the knot in 1999 in an intimate ceremony at Dempsey’s family farmhouse in Maine, where the emotional groom shed tears upon seeing his bride.
Throughout the 2000s, both Dempsey and Jillian experienced personal and professional successes. After a series of disappointing box office performances, Dempsey revitalized his career with notable roles in films such as Scream 3 (2000), Grey’s Anatomy (2005-2015), Made of Honor (2008), Valentine’s Day (2010), and Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016). Meanwhile, Jillian transitioned from a six-year stint as Avon’s global creative color director to become a celebrated makeup artist, catering to numerous Hollywood celebrities.
The couple welcomed their first child, Talula, in 2002, and their family grew to five in 2007 with the arrival of twins Sullivan and Darby. Dempsey made the decision to step away from his racing career, which began in 2004, in order to focus on his family. However, he still maintains an interest in racing through Dempsey Racing.
Dempsey, now 57, emphasizes the importance of prioritizing their relationship. Recognizing that everyone has their own path, he and Jillian chose to work on their differences and serve as role models for their children. Their determination to fight for their marriage led to the cancellation of their divorce in 2016, and in 2023, the couple celebrates their 24th wedding anniversary.
On February 4, Dempsey expressed his love and humor in a heartfelt birthday message to Jillian on Instagram, playfully referencing the candles on her cake and celebrating her beauty, talent, and sense of humor. He compared her to a fine wine, remarking that she only gets better with age, and conveyed his unwavering love for her.