|Grey's Anatomy character|
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|
Seattle Grace Brain butcher
|Occupation||Attending neurosurgeon and Board Member at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital|
Carolyn Maloney Shepherd
Kathleen "Kate" Shepherd
Elizabeth "Lizzie" Shepherd
9 unnamed nieces
6 unnamed nephews (one deceased)
|Spouse(s)||Addison Montgomery (m. 1994–2006) (divorced)
Meredith Grey (m. 2009–15)
|Children||Zola Grey Shepherd (adopted daughter, with Meredith)
Derek Bailey Shepherd (son, with Meredith)
Ellis Shepherd (daughter, with Meredith)
Derek Christopher Shepherd,  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 married to Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh). He was happily married to longtime girlfriend 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Derek suffers an automobile accident. He is able to hear and process auditory input, but unable to speak. He is recognized by Winnie, one of the victims of a crash he assisted in earlier, 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.
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.
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. However, in April 2015, Dempsey's character was killed off 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." In August 2015, Rhimes commented:
|“||The decision to have the character die the way that he did was not a difficult one in the sense of what were the options? Either Derek was going to walk out on Meredith, and leave her high and dry, and what was that going to mean? That was going to suggest that the love was not true, the thing we had said for 11 years was a lie and McDreamy wasn't McDreamy. For me, that was untenable. Meredith and Derek's love had to remain Meredith and Derek's love. As painful as it was for me as a storyteller, because I had never really thought that was going to happen, it preserved what felt true to me, was that Derek was going to have to die in order for that love to remain honest. Because I really couldn't have the idea that he just turned out to be a bad guy who walked out on his wife and kids be a true story. To me, it felt like that was the only way to make Meredith and Derek's magic remain true and forever frozen in time.||”|
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. 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."
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 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."
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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