Derek Shepherd may have been coined McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy, but his demeanor didn’t always live up to the moniker. But his flaws made him better.
For 11 seasons, Patrick Dempsey starred as neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy, but his nickname “McDreamy” was undeserved. Early on, Derek was labeled “McDreamy” in reference to his good looks and charm, but he didn’t always live up to the moniker. While he’s certainly charming, Derek’s treatment of Meredith Gray and the other women in his life proved he wasn’t the perfect man or sweetheart he was often depicted as.
Derek Shepherd first appeared in Grey’s Anatomy pilot as a one-night stand of Meredith, but it was clear he was going to stick around when it was revealed that he was a neurosurgeon at Seattle Grace Hospital where Meredith was just starting her internship. Due to their age difference and the hierarchy at the hospital, there was a power imbalance between the couple which posed challenges, but Derek pursued Meredith despite her reservations and she couldn’t resist his charms. Thus began the great love story of Meredith and Derek, or “MerDer”.
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At the end of Grey’s Anatomy Season 1 finale, the big twist that Derek was still married to Addison Montgomery, and didn’t tell Meredith, called his McDreamy persona into question. Hurt that Addison cheated on him with his best friend Mark Sloan, Derek never shied away from criticizing his first wife, even when they were working together. His disrespect didn’t end with Addison, as Derek’s jealousy of Meredith continuing with Finn made him mean, going as far as shaming her for being sexually active. His distaste for women who possess and are unashamed of their sexuality continued with Derek’s younger sister in Grey’s Anatomy, Amelia Shepherd, who, despite her own accomplishments, was always seen by her brother as a troubled child. Each of the women most important to Derek saw the many ways he was, in fact, McDreamy, but also suffered from his sometimes nightmarish behavior.
Derek’s flaws make him a better character (but not McDreamy)
It wasn’t often that Derek Shepherd faced the consequences of his actions in Grey’s Anatomy. Although the characters sometimes call him out for his arrogant and condescending attitude or his bad behavior, Derek remained a top surgeon who apparently could do nothing wrong inside or outside the operating room. . Yet it was all of his flaws that made Derek Shepherd a more grounded, human, relatable, and likable character. McDreamy was just one side of his character and Patrick Dempsey’s portrayal of Derek in Grey’s Anatomy made him infinitely charming, even in his most frustrating moments.
Until his death in the Grey’s Anatomy Season 11 finale Derek Shepherd showed why he both earned the nickname McDreamy and fell short. Prior to the finale, he had selfishly placed his own ambitions over those of Meredith and their family, but in his final moments he selflessly managed to save a family after a car accident, which ultimately claimed his life. His death shocked and saddened viewers, and his return to Meredith’s Dream Beach in season 17 only reminded viewers how much Derek Shepherd/McDreamy missed. Grey’s Anatomy, flaws and all.
More: Grey’s Anatomy: Meredith Vs Addison: Who Was Better For McDreamy?
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