RIP McSteamy. Mark Sloan (played by Eric Dane) bid farewell to Grey’s Anatomy in last night’s season opener. Season eight, you may remember, ended with a plane crash. In yesterday’s show, Mark Sloan became the first of the plane crash’s fatalities in season nine. After 30 days in a coma, Mark’s life support was switched off, with Callie and Derek remaining by his side until he breathed his final breath.

That won’t be the last that viewers see of Mark’s final days though; next week’s show will explore their attempts to save him and return to the crash site, back in the woods. Mark Sloan’s departure from the show has been rumors of Mark Sloan leaving Grey’s Anatomy have been rife for some time, according to Budget cutbacks have apparently beset the show and it seemed, rightly, that McSteamy was headed for a sharp exit. It’s a bold move for the producers; Sloan, the “The man/child with the untamed libido who probably spent more scenes un-shirted than shirted” was a key character in the show and will surely be missed. At least Eric Dane’s fans will get one last chance of a glimpse at him next week, it seems.

Last night’s narrative switched back and forth between the crash itself and the present day, 30 days after the incident. Most of the characters – those that remain alive – are back in Seattle. Arizona has had a leg amputated, April has left the medical industry and Derek’s medical future remains uncertain. Grey’s Anatomy won’t be going stale after McSteamy’s departure though; there’s a whole bunch of new interns for viewers to get to grips with and some of them are already causing a stir.