Derek Shepherd

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Derek Shepherd
Grey's Anatomy character
Dr. Derek Shepherd.jpg
Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd in 2012
First appearance "A Hard Day's Night"
1x01, March 27, 2005
Last appearance "You're My Home"
11x24, May 14, 2015
Created by Shonda Rhimes
Portrayed by Patrick Dempsey
Full name Derek Christopher Shepherd
Nickname(s) McDreamy
Seattle Grace Brain butcher
Occupation Attending neurosurgeon at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital
Family Name unknown
(father, deceased)
Carolyn Maloney Shepherd
Nancy Shepherd
Kathleen "Kate" Shepherd
Elizabeth "Lizzie" Shepherd
Amelia Shepherd
9 unnamed nieces
6 unnamed nephews (one deceased)
Spouse(s) Addison Montgomery (m. 1994–2006) (divorced)
Meredith Grey (m. 2009–15)
Significant other(s) Rose
Children Zola Grey Shepherd (adopted daughter, with Meredith)
Derek Bailey Shepherd (son, with Meredith)
Ellis Shepherd (daughter, with Meredith) Born after Derek's Death

Derek Christopher Shepherd, [1] M.D., also referred to as "McDreamy", is a fictional surgeon from the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy, portrayed by actor Patrick Dempsey. He made his first appearance during "A Hard Day's Night", which was broadcast on March 27, 2005.

Derek was first married to Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh). He later married longtime girlfriend and work colleague Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) until his death. 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. For his portrayal of Derek, Dempsey 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.


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 Chief Webber and was enticed to come with an "offer he couldn’t refuse" – the position of Chief of Surgery. Derek is, as is frequently mentioned during the series, a highly talented neurosurgeon. The day before he reports to work, he has a one night stand with Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), whom he meets in a bar. He later discovers she is a new surgical intern at the hospital where he works. 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. Derek's estranged wife Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) arrives in Seattle, making it clear that she wants to give their marriage another try (after being caught with Derek's best friend Mark Sloan (Eric Dane). Derek struggles over the decision but eventually returns to Addison. However, Derek confesses he had fallen in love with Meredith to Addison and becomes jealous when Meredith begins to date again. At the hospital prom, Derek and Meredith sleep together, with Derek confessing his love to Meredith the next day.

Derek later fights for Meredith against Finn and wins. He feels guilty for ending things with Addison, but is angry when she seeks solace with Mark. Addison leaves Seattle to work in a private hospital in LA (ABC's Private Practice). After an accident at the scene of a ferry crash, Derek saves Meredith from drowning and she becomes depressed, causing a growing disconnection between them. He meets a mysterious woman who, unbeknownst to Derek, is Meredith's half sister, Lexie (Chyler Leigh), who is a new intern. He is also given the chance by Richard Webber to become the next chief but declines.

Derek 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 a 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.

Derek moves in with Meredith while their "dream house" is being built on his land. Derek's mother, Carolyn, meets Meredith for the first time, ultimately approving of Meredith, and tells Derek that Meredith does not see things in black and white and that he needs that in his life. She gives Derek her wedding ring to give to Meredith. Derek falls into a serious depression and refuses to go to work after losing a pregnant patient and being hit by a malpractice lawsuit. When Meredith meets him later on, she reveals she knows about the ring and he bats it into the woods and yells at her.[2] When Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) is diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma, Meredith convinces Derek to operate on her as he is 'one of about 20 people in the world who can save her.[3] He successfully performs the surgery, and proposes to Meredith in the hospital elevator. Izzie begins to plan the perfect wedding but when, on their wedding day, Derek discovers that Izzie has a second brain tumor, Meredith and Derek let her and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) marry instead. Derek and Meredith marry by writing their wedding vows on a post-it note.

Derek is offered the job of Chief of Surgery for the second time 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 merger 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. Derek learns from Meredith that the Chief has since resumed drinking and feels forced to have him 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. Derek goes on to become interim Chief of Surgery. After Richard recovers, Derek 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 shot and severely wounded by Gary Clark (Michael O'Neill), the husband of a former patient, and is saved by Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) who performs the surgery.

Derek quits as Chief when he recovers and learns about the miscarriage Meredith experienced during the shooting, and they decide to keep trying. Derek bonds with Cristina, as she operated on him with a gun to her head, by taking care of her and taking her fishing. Derek initiates a clinical trial hoping to cure Alzheimer's in fear of Meredith getting the disease. While working with Derek on the trial, Meredith tampers with the trial by ensuring Richard Webber's wife, Adele, receives the drug they are testing and not the placebo. Derek and Meredith finally marry and think about adopting a baby girl from Malawi named Zola. When Derek finds out what Meredith did, he gets furious and is unsure whether he should raise a child with her.

Zola is taken away from Meredith after a social worker finds out she is not living with Derek. Derek becomes distrustful of Meredith in the OR so they agree that Meredith will not work in neuro anymore. The social worker comes back and 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.

Following their rescue, Derek learns that he may only regain eighty percent of his hand's function. He accepts this, thankful to be alive, and considers being a teacher to the new interns. However, 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 agrees to the surgery. His hand recovers well and Torres clears him to return to work, but it is only weeks later that Derek feels he is ready to operate. Derek, Callie and Jackson decide to do nerve transplant for his hand. Meredith, newly pregnant, goes behind his back and calls his sisters so they can donate a nerve to him. Lizzie (Neve Campbell), Derek's younger sister, agrees to donate a nerve and the surgery is a success. The doctors who were in the plane crash receive $15 million compensation and the hospital goes bankrupt. Derek, Arizona, Meredith, Callie and Cristina, with the help of the Harper-Avery Foundation, buy the hospital and become part of the 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 an attending and make a name for herself. He continues his research on brain mapping and catches the eye of the President of the United States, receiving a personal phone call from him. Meredith is annoyed that he is taking on more responsibilities but continues to support him none-the-less, until he gets a job offer and contemplates moving to D.C. and giving his sister Amelia the job as head of neurosurgery at Grey Sloan memorial.

After a heated argument, Derek states that he will stay with Meredith and the kids, however Meredith is reluctant as he has come to this conclusion without discussing it with her. After not standing up for his sister and other arguments with Meredith, Derek is offered the job in D.C. once more. Meredith, not wanting Derek to feel like she is holding him back, tells him that he should go to D.C. and take the job.

Later Derek takes up the job at DC. Meredith and Derek struggle with their daily lives living in two different cities. As they begin to settle down with their newly found order of life, Derek nearly cheats on his wife with his fellow. Following this he comes to see Meredith realising that he misses his family and he should move back to Seattle for good.

Derek plans on flying back to D.C. before returning to Seattle. On his way to the airport, Derek witnesses a car crash between two other vehicles. He helps treat the four victims. As he is leaving the scene, Derek begins to make a U-turn in the middle of the road when his phone rings. Rather than continue to drive, he pauses in the road momentarily to check his phone, when he is hit by a semi-truck. Derek is transported to the same hospital as the victims, and his voice narrates his perspective of the medical response. Derek is able to hear and process auditory input, but unable to speak. He is recognized by Winnie, one of the crash victims, who tells the surgeons that their patient's name is Derek and that he is a surgeon as well. In the Emergency Department, Derek realizes that a CT scan must be done, but the doctors take him to the OR, where his head injury is not noticed soon enough. Although the neurosurgeon on call is paged multiple times, he takes too long to arrive and Derek becomes brain dead. Police arrive at Meredith's door and take her to see Derek, where she consents to removing him from life support. He is now deceased.[4]


Casting and creation[edit]

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."[citation needed] 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.[5] Rob Lowe was also considered to portray Shepherd but turned the role down.[6]

In January 2014, Dempsey signed a two-year contract to remain on Grey's Anatomy (then in its tenth season) that would ensure his presence for potential 11th and 12th seasons.[7] However, in April 2015, Dempsey's character was killed off[8] while his contract was not over yet. Dempsey explained: "it just sort of evolved. It’s just kind of happened. It really was something that was kind of surprising that unfolded, and it just naturally came to be. Which was pretty good. I like the way it has all played out."[9]


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.[citation needed] USA Today writer Robert Bianco said: "Derek could, at times, seem like two people, warm and funny one minute, cold and self-involved the next. Dempsey's gift was in making those two sides seem like part of the same person, while keeping us rooting for that person as a whole."[10]


Dempsey's relation with Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) has been the highlight of the series since its inception.

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".[11] 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 try. 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."[12]

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."[13]

Entertainment Weekly placed Shepherd in its list of the "30 Great TV Doctors and Nurses".[14] The character was also listed in Wetpaint's "10 Hottest Male Doctors on TV" and in BuzzFeed's "16 Hottest Doctors On Television".[15][16] His relationship with Meredith was included in TV Guide's list of "The Best TV Couples of All Time".[17]

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."[18] Their bromance was furthermore included in lists by, BuddyTV, Cosmopolitan, Wetpaint.[19][20][21][22] 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."[23]


  1. ^ "Addison Shepherd Quotes – Season 4, Episode 13: "Piece of My Heart"". TV Fanatic. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  2. ^ ""Sanctuary; Death and All His Friends" Episode Recap Pg. 1 – Grey's Anatomy –". Retrieved 2010-06-29. 
  3. ^ ""Sanctuary; Death and All His Friends" Episode Recap Pg. 1 – Grey's Anatomy –". Retrieved 2010-06-29. 
  4. ^ "Grey's Anatomy: Patrick Dempsey's Derek Shepherd Dies :". 
  5. ^ Rhodes, Joe (July 15, 2005). "Today's News: Our Take – Vet Earns M.D. on Grey's Anatomy". TV Guide. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  6. ^ Keck, William (November 17, 2006). "Lowe knows political roles". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  7. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (January 23, 2014). "'Grey's Anatomy's' Patrick Dempsey, Ellen Pompeo Ink New Two-Year Deals". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 25, 2014. 
  8. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (April 23, 2015). "‘Grey’s Anatomy': Patrick Dempsey Officially Leaving After 11 Seasons". Variety. Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  9. ^ Rice, Lynette (April 24, 2015). "Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey on tonight's shocking twist -- exclusive". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  10. ^ Bianco, Robert (April 24, 2015). "Review: 'Grey's Anatomy's' accidental death". USA Today. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  11. ^ Bianco, Robert (May 14, 2006). "The cure for bromidic TV: 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'House'". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  12. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (September 28, 2006). "Grey's Anatomy: You're kidding, right?". What's Alan Watching?. Blogspot. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  13. ^ Chang, Debbie (May 27, 2008). "How 'Grey's Anatomy' Got its Groove Back". BuddyTV. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  14. ^ Wilkinson, Amy (June 15, 2009). "Paging Dr. Feelgood: 30 Great TV Doctors and Nurses". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  15. ^ Martin, Rebecca (December 21, 2012). "The 10 Hottest Male Doctors on TV". Wetpaint. The Cambio Network. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  16. ^ "The 16 Hottest Doctors On Television". BuzzFeed. September 28, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Couples Pictures, Grey's Anatomy Photos – Photo Gallery: The Best TV Couples of All Time". TV Guide. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 
  18. ^ Balta, Victor. "How adorable! TV’s best bromances". Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  19. ^ Thomas, Rachel. "TV's Best Bromances". The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Best TV Bromances #15 McDreamy and McSteamy". BuddyTV. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Hottest TV bromances". Cosmopolitan. July 19, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  22. ^ Hoffman, Kim (January 28, 2013). "Top 14 TV Bromances — I Love You, Man! (PHOTOS)". Wetpaint. The Cambio Network. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  23. ^ Perigard, Mark (July 27, 2012). "‘Grey’s Anatomy’ drops another doc". Boston Herald. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 

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