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Diehard Grey’s Anatomy fans often still talk about Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), although it has been years since either one was a regular on the show. Recently, fans engaged in a debate over which departure was worse—Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) husband or her twisted sister. Let’s take a look at what fans said when they weighed in on the topic. 

Sandra Oh and Patrick Dempsey
Sandra Oh and Patrick Dempsey | Danny Feld/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

How did Cristina Yang and Derek Shepherd leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?

Cristina bid farewell to her Grey’s Anatomy family during the season 10 finale, after more than 200 episodes on the show. She moves to Zurich, Switzerland, where she takes over Preston Burke’s (Isaiah Washington) facility as director of cardiothoracic surgery.

The surgeon makes the rounds at Grey-Sloan Hospital and says her goodbyes to each of her friends. Meredith puts her in a cab and bids her farewell, only to see Cristina return for one last dance-it-out to their song, “Where Does the Good Go?” 

Derek, on the other hand, is not able to say goodbye to anyone, even his wife. During season 11, episode 21, he helps several people involved in a car crash, only to be hit by a semi-truck himself. 

When he is rushed to the nearest ER, he is unable to speak. As the doctors work on him, he prays that they perform a head CT scan. The surgeons rush him into surgery without the scan, and he dies on the table. His death is more sudden and unexpected than Cristina’s is.

How did fans feel about Cristina Yang’s departure from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?

“I was upset to see Cristina go because I feel like her character resonates with me,” wrote one Reddit user. “She’s a great character. [She is] perfectly imperfect. It’s a pity because I knew she was leaving, and I was always worried about how they were going to have her exit. But her exit was beautiful. She went out normally. She made her rounds.” 

Many other fans agreed with this viewer that they were more upset about Cristina leaving than Derek. 

“It was definitely harder for me,” another fan commented back. “Cristina will always be my absolute favorite character on Grey’s Anatomy. Surprisingly enough the part that gets me teary-eyed is when she says bye to Derek. It just seemed genuine. It acknowledges that they had a bond but wasn’t drawn out and sappy. The look on his face is wistful and shows he cared.”

Countless other fans respond in the same way, adding how much they love her character.

“I was more attached to Cristina,” wrote yet another Redditor. “She was funny, driven, mean yet caring. I loved her! I wish she’d return even for a guest stint!”

How do fans feel about how Derek Shepherd left ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?

“For Derek, I was mad,” commented one Reddit user. “I was mad for most of that episode. [I was] shocked and mad. The first half was great. I liked the misdirection where you feared he was the one who crashed. And they should’ve left it at that. They should’ve found a different way to send him off or have him limited.”

Rather than being depressed about Derek’s death, this fan is appalled that they did not give him a proper send-off.  

“I feel Derek’s absence constantly, but IDK I’ve always just enjoyed his character as one of my personal favorites,” another fan countered. “Amelia never really grabbed me, and whenever I hear ‘Dr. Shepard’ now I always—for a half-second— think of Derek and then remember they mean Amelia.”

There were a select few fans who were more distraught over Derek’s death than Cristina’s on Grey’s Anatomy.

“I liked the Derek episode better. I thought the episode was so well done (not the one he officially died but him saving Winnie one)—but I miss Cristina more.

Overall, 20 fans weighed in on the Derek versus Cristina debate. Seventeen fans felt that Cristina’s departure was more depressing and harder to watch than Derek’s. Only three fans feel they miss Derek more and were more upset when he died. Although it was a small-scale debate, the verdict here is that Cristina’s exit was more upsetting than Derek’s on Grey’s Anatomy.