The Grey's Anatomy Season 9 premiere (Season 9, Episode 1: "Going, Going, Gone") foreshadowed a major change for Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). Not only has he lost his ability to perform surgery, for now, but he also lost his best friend Mark Sloan (Eric Dane). How will the absence of Mark in his life change things for Seattle Grace-Mercy West’s McDreamiest neuro doc?

This article contains minor Season 9 spoilers! For more on Wetpaint Entertainment's philosophy on spoilers, click here.

More time with Meredith. As one spoiler indicates, Derek will be spending a lot more, ahem, quality time with his wife. On one hand, Derek’s steamier sex life could provide a healthy distraction from the loss of a male BFF. But afterwards, he might have to find something else to fill that void. Let’s hope that whatever it is (more time with Zola? More teaching?) is just as healthy, and not something that affects his ability to show up for work.

Less competition, less motivation. Let’s remember that McDreamy and McSteamy began as enemies. Derek looked at Mark as the man who broke up his marriage to Addison. Once that dust had settled, Mark’s ego provided good motivation for Derek to be the best surgeon in his field. Without Mark, who does Derek have to compete with? Karev (Justin Chambers) and Jackson (Jesse Williams) aren’t in his league, and Owen (Kevin McKidd) rarely performs surgery anymore. Will he begin to resent Callie (Sara Ramirez), since she’s the one who operated on his hand?

A new bromance. One spoiler hints at a growing friendship between Derek and Owen. Owen, of course, will be dealing with his own loss since Cristina (Sandra Oh) left for Minnesota. The two broken men will “start to lean on each other more,” and hopefully, have some heartfelt talks about the women they love. Because we love seeing the tough guys on Grey’s talk about their love lives!

Pent-up emotions. Derek has already lost Lexie (Chyler Leigh), who he used to treat like a little sister, and in the months before her death, even provided some therapeutic support for. Without Mark, who besides Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) does he have to turn to? Meredith would seem like the likeliest option, but she’ll be dealing with her own grief. We could see the combination of heartbreak from losing Mark and frustration from his injury leading to a very bent-out-of-shape Derek. 

How else do you think Derek’s life will be affected? Share in the comments below!

Catch the next new episode of Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday, October 4 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

Molly Friedman is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @MollyFriedman.

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