Adam Larkey/ABC via Getty Images
Samantha Highfill
May 15, 2015 AT 04:47 PM EDT

Looks like Grey’s Anatomy fans weren’t the only ones shocked to see McDreamy killed in the show’s eleventh season.

When ABC News spoke with James Pickens Jr., who has been on the show since the pilot, the actor revealed that the cast “didn’t know a whole lot” about Dempsey’s goodbye. “It was kind of on the fly,” Pickens said. “So whatever information we got, we pretty much got it kind of right before it happened.”

That sentiment, of course, mirrors Dempsey’s own words, when he told EW that “things happened very quickly” with his exit. 

Also like the fans, Pickens understands what McDreamy meant to the show. “Obviously, Grey’s wouldn’t have been Grey’s without him. He was such an integral part of that. He’s a very, very talented guy,” Pickens said. “His character has become iconic. I mean, it’s part of the lexicon of TV.”

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