|Grey's Anatomy character|
Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd in 2012
|First appearance||"A Hard Day's Night"
1x01, March 27, 2005
|Created by||Shonda Rhimes|
|Portrayed by||Patrick Dempsey|
|Full name||Derek Christopher Shepherd|
Seattle Grace Brain butcher
|Occupation||Attending neurosurgeon at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital|
|Title||Chief of Neurosurgery
Carolyn Maloney Shepherd
Kathleen "Kate" Shepherd
Elizabeth "Lizzie" Shepherd
9 unnamed nieces
6 unnamed nephews (one deceased)
Addison Montgomery (Divorced)
(adopted daughter, with Meredith)
Derek Bailey Shepherd
(son, with Meredith)
Derek Christopher Shepherd, M.D., also referred to as McDreamy, is a fictional surgeon on the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy. The character is portrayed by actor Patrick Dempsey, who was nominated in 2006 and 2007 Golden Globe for the Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series Drama for the role, and the 2006 SAG Award for the Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Drama Series award. He has been married to Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) and is now happily married to longtime girlfriend Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo). Derek was formerly the Chief of Surgery at Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital, but abruptly resigned as chief in the seventh season following the shooting.
Derek arrives at Seattle Grace Hospital as the new Head of Neurosurgery from New York City. He is a Bowdoin College graduate and attended Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Derek was a student of the Chief Webber and was asked to come with an "offer he couldn’t refuse" – offering him the position of Chief of Surgery. The day before he reports to work, he has a one night stand with Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), whom he meets in a bar, only to discover that she is a new surgical intern at the hospital where he has recently begun working. Although she initially rejects his advances, Meredith eventually agrees to date Derek. His personality and good looks earn him the nickname "McDreamy" among Meredith and her friends. Their relationship comes to a sudden halt, however, when Derek's estranged wife Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) arrives in Seattle, making it clear that she wants to give their marriage another try. Although he struggles over the decision, Derek returns to Addison. Their attempts to repair their marriage are strained when Derek confesses he had fallen in love with Meredith, and he becomes jealous when she begins to date again. While Meredith has a new boyfriend, Finn Dandridge (Chris O'Donnell), she and Derek sleep together at the hospital prom, with Derek confessing his love to Meredith the next day. Derek initially feels guilty for hurting Addison, but is angry when she seeks solace with his former best friend Mark Sloan (Eric Dane), with whom she had previously had an affair. Addison ultimately leaves Seattle to work in a private hospital in Los Angeles run by her college friends (ABC's Private Practice). Derek's relationship with Mark remains tense for some months after Mark transfers to work at Seattle Grace, but the two eventually repair their friendship.
Meredith dates both Derek and Finn for a brief period, ultimately choosing to be with Derek. After an accident at the scene of a ferry crash, Derek saves Meredith from drowning. Meredith becomes increasingly depressed after the event, causing a growing disconnection between them. It becomes obvious they may not make it and that he wants it more than she does. Derek finally divorces Addison because he is still in love with Meredith and Addison reveals to Derek the truth about her relationship with Mark after their divorce becomes final. He also meets a mysterious woman who, unbeknownst to Derek, is Meredith's half sister, Lexie (Chyler Leigh), who is a new intern. Derek then begins to push Meredith to make a greater commitment to their relationship than she feels able to, and the pair break up yet again. Meredith decides that she wants Derek to date only her, but finds out from George that Derek kissed his scrub nurse, Rose (Lauren Stamile). Derek begins dating Rose and Meredith initiates a neurosurgical clinical trial on patients with malignant gliomas, enlisting Derek as a consulting neurosurgeon. Meredith and Derek grow discouraged as their clinical trial fails repeatedly, but the final patient they treat survives, which leads them to rekindling their relationship and moving in together in Meredith's house while their "dream house" is being built. Derek's mother, Carolyn, meets Meredith for the first time. She approves and tells Derek that he only sees things in black and white, and Meredith does not and that he needs that in his life. Before she leaves, she gives Derek her wedding ring to give to Meredith. Derek is shocked because he then realizes that his mother never thought Addison was "the one" for him.
Derek is in a serious depression and refuses to go to work after losing a pregnant patient and being hit by a malpractice lawsuit. His depression deepens after he meets with his lawyers and they tell him he's lost more patients than he's saved so he decides not to operate anymore. When Meredith meets him later on, she reveals she knows about the ring and he bats it into the distance and yells at her. When Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) is diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma, Grey convinces Shepherd to operate on her as he is 'one of about 20 people in the world who can save her. He agrees to perform the surgery, and later proposes to Grey in the hospital elevator. Stevens begins to plan the perfect wedding but when, on their wedding day, Derek discovers that Stevens has a second brain tumor, the couple let her and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) marry instead. Later, because they realised that they didn't have the time to marry at City Hall, they marry by writing their wedding vows on a post-it note.
Derek is offered the job of Chief of Surgery after the board wants to oust Dr. Webber. Derek, being faithful as a friend to Richard, wants them to consider keeping him somehow. During the merge of Seattle Grace with Mercy West, Richard and Derek do not agree with how the situation is being handled, and their relationship begins to sour. The tensions become so important that after Derek completes a 26-hour unauthorized surgery, Richard fires him. They eventually make up and it appears that Derek is still working at Seattle Grace/Mercy West. However the relationship sours again when Derek learns that the alcoholic chief has since resumed drinking and feels forced to have Chief Webber removed as Chief of Surgery. Having mixed feelings about Richard, Derek offers him two options: go into rehab and possibly pick up where he left off after or quit. He goes on to become interim Chief of Surgery while Richard attends Alcoholics Anonymous classes and recovers. One of the first things he does is rehire Dr. April Kepner (Sarah Drew) and Dr. Megan Mostow, saying they deserve a second chance. He also gives Richard a job as a Senior Attending Physician while waiting for the board to decide on having Richard return to being Chief. Later, Derek is severely shot by Gary Clark (Michael O'Neill), the husband of a former patient, and is saved by Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) who performed the surgery. Derek's first move back at the hospital is to quit being Chief. After Derek learns about the miscarriage Meredith experienced during the shooting, they decide to keep trying. His sister, Amelia (Caterina Scorsone), visits, and Derek reconnects with her over their father's death.
Derek bonds with Cristina since she cannot relate to anybody else due to the trauma she suffered during the hospital shooting, which has left her unable to operate. He helps her unintentionally to get back to work by talking to her during her house-warming party and going fishing. Derek, worried about the possibility that Meredith might develop Alzheimer's, initiates a clinical trial hoping to cure the disease. Meredith opts to work with him on the trial but when the chief of surgery, Richard Webber's wife, Adele, receives a spot on the trial, Meredith tampers with the drugs so that Adele does not receive the placebo. Derek and Meredith finally marry for real and think about adopting a baby girl from Malawi named Zola. When the truth about Meredith's tampering comes out, however, a furious Derek tells her he cannot raise a child with someone who doesn't know the difference between right and wrong. Shortly after, the social worker takes Zola away after hearing Meredith got fired and that her marriage is facing complications. Chief Webber decides to take the blame for it and allowes Meredith to keep her job. Since Derek became distrustful of Meredith in the OR, she offers to go off his service and choose another medical specialty as a result. After Zola undergoes a surgery for a bowel obstruction, Derek and Meredith reconcile. Thanks to Karev who tried to convince the judge handling Zola's case that Derek and Meredith are the right parents, they are eventually given a court date but it is later cancelled. At the end of a day full of surgeries, the social worker announces they are the official parents of Zola. As Meredith is near the end of her fifth year of residency, she and Derek are torn between staying at Seattle Grace or leaving for Boston where Derek would work at Harvard while Meredith would be at The Brigham Women's Hospital. Derek, Meredith, Lexie, Cristina, Mark and Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) are subsequently victims of a plane crash. Though he survives it, his left hand is mangled. The season ends with the surviving doctors stranded in the woods, mourning the death of Lexie and desperately fighting to stay alive.
Following their rescue, Sloan succumbs to his injuries and Derek learns that he may only regain eighty percent of his hand's function. He easily accepts it, thankful to be alive and considers being a teacher. When Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) tells him a more risky surgery could give him back full function of his hand or reduce its function if it goes wrong, Derek decides to have Torres perform that surgery. His hand seemingly recovers well and Torres clears him to return to work but it is only weeks later that Derek feels he is ready to operate. During his first surgery since the accident, his hand goes numb and he is unable to perform. With an impending lawsuit against the hospital, the lawyers wish to gain more money for the accident and encourage Callie to admit that Derek will never operate again. Under the pressure, she states that Derek will most likely never operate again, which satisfies the lawyers, but devastates Derek. After seeing Arizona's development in finally walking again, Callie comes to realize that it wasn't fair to lose hope on Derek. She bursts in on the lawyers, retracting her earlier statement, and tells Derek there are more options. Derek, Callie and Jackson decide to do nerve transplant. Derek wants to use a cadaver nerve for his hand, however Meredith goes behind his back to call his sisters so they can donate a nerve to him. His younger sister Lizzie (Neve Campbell) is found to be a match, and she arrives in Seattle to donate the nerve. The hospital is eventually found guilty of negligence. The surviving doctors including him must receive $15 million of compensation, which leads the hospital to a near bankruptcy as the insurances refuse to pay. These doctors and Torres buy the hospital to prevent it from closing with the help of the Harper-Avery Foundation, and each become members of the new directing board. In the midst of a storm Meredith goes into labor having their first biological child, a baby boy named Bailey.
After the birth of Bailey Derek and Meredith take some time off before eagerly returning to work. Derek and Meredith struggle with being parents, full-time surgeons and board members so Derek agrees to performing less surgery to spend more time with the kids. This allows Meredith to succeed in her second year as a resident and make a name for herself, as he has already made a name for himself.
Casting and creation
When Patrick Dempsey auditioned for the role of Derek, he was afraid that he was not going to get the part. Show creator Shonda Rhimes' first reaction was: "The very first time I met him, I was absolutely sure that he was my guy. Reading the lines of Derek Shepherd, Patrick had a vulnerable charm that I just fell for. And he had amazing chemistry with Ellen Pompeo." Rhimes admitted that Dempsey's dyslexia threw her at first, particularly at the first few table readings: "I did not know about Patrick's dyslexia in the beginning. I actually thought that he didn't like the scripts from the way he approached the readings. When I found out, I completely understood his hesitation. Now that we all know, if he is struggling with a word, the other actors are quick to step up and help him out. Everyone is very respectful." Isaiah Washington also auditioned for the part and when he did not get it, he said his reaction was like "I'd been kicked in the stomach by 14 mules." Washington was, however, later cast as Preston Burke. Rob Lowe was also considered to portray Shepherd but turned the role down.
Rhimes describes Derek as typical "Prince Charming". He was planned to be a doctor who doesn't really care about anything, who lives in his "own" universe and has a big sex appeal. A man who is charming, devilishly handsome and the type of guy every girl dreams of, and a man that often makes the wrong decisions, and is often known as a jerk or the ultimate heartbreaker. Rhimes planned to have this kind of character from the beginning, because he was the kind of guy whom girls fall in love with and a character whose storylines could easily be changed.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2012)|
With the show concluding its second season, Robert Bianco of USA Today said that Emmy voters could consider him because of the "seemingly effortless way he humanizes Derek's 'dreamy' appeal with ego and vanity". In the third season, Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger wrote that "the attempt to give the moral high ground back to McDreamy was bad. Dude, whatever happened in New York ceased to count in any kind of grievance tally once you agreed to take Addison back and give things another guy. You're the dick who cheated on her, you're the one who knew that she found the panties, and still you act like her getting back together with Mark justifies what you did? Wow. I didn't think it was possible for me to dislike anyone on this show more than Meredith, but congratulations, big guy."
Debbie Chang of BuddyTV noted the character's immaturity in the fourth season, saying: "The only character who did not make me love him was Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). How this character is still Shonda's golden child is beyond me. Yes, we get it. He's tormented by his love for Meredith, but that does not give him the right to lash out at her when his clinical trial patients are dying. If things don't go absolutely the way he wants them to, then he refuses to cooperate. How immature can this man possibly be? No amount of heavily styled hair or blue-blue-blue eyes is going to make me warm up to him unless he admits to being the needy, desperate one in the relationship."
Entertainment Weekly placed Shepherd in its list of the "30 Great TV Doctors and Nurses". The character was also listed in Wetpaint's "10 Hottest Male Doctors on TV" and in BuzzFeed's "16 Hottest Doctors On Television". His relationship with Meredith was included in TV Guide's list of "The Best TV Couples of All Time".
Victor Balta of Today listed Shepherd and Sloan's friendship in its "TV's best bromances". He called them "the most exciting couple on Grey’s," explaining "they’ve demonstrated an easy chemistry that makes for some of the great comic relief around Seattle Grace Hospital with their banter, sage wisdom on each other’s lives, and locker room-style teasing." Their bromance was furthermore included in lists by About.com, BuddyTV, Cosmopolitan, Wetpaint. However, following the announcement of Dane's upcoming departure from the show, Mark Perigard of the Boston Herald felt he and Derek "never clicked like you’d expect friends would. Any scene they had together ranged from uncomfortable to forced."
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