Grey's Anatomy creator Shona Rhimes has received death threats after killing off a beloved character on the hit ABC drama.
The 45-year-old screenwriter stunned fans and provoked online outrage when her decision to permanently remove Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd, played by Patrick Dempsey, was revealed in the final episode of season 11.
Viewers, who are still struggling to accept the fictional tragedy, have taken to social media to vent their anger, with some even threatening to hurt Rhimes.
Considering the episode had kicked off with the hunky neurosurgeon telling his wife Meredith that he would "back before you know it", some fans saw the the shocking twist as a cruel betrayal.
In the wake of the backlash, Rhimes tried to pacify fans by defended her decision to kill off Shepherd, who has been a central figure on the series since the first episode in 2005.
"Derek Shepherd is and will always be an incredibly important character – for Meredith, for me and for the fans. I absolutely never imagined saying goodbye to our 'McDreamy'," she said in a statement.
"Patrick Dempsey's performance shaped Derek in a way that I know we both hope became a meaningful example – happy, sad, romantic, painful and always true – of what young women should demand from modern love.
"His loss will be felt by all. Now, Meredith and the entire Grey's Anatomy family are about to enter uncharted territory as we head into this new chapter of her life. The possibilities for what may come are endless. As Ellis Grey would say: the carousel never stops turning."
In the wake of his on-screen departure, Dempsey told TVLine: "It's been a remarkable ride. The worldwide impact has been extraordinary. It is incredible how devoted and passionate the fans are, and I will forever be grateful and humbled by the experience."