Grey’s Anatomy: 20 Things Wrong With McDreamy We All Choose To Ignore

Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd on Grey's Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy premiered in 2005 providing an addictive blend of medical drama, relatable human stories, and sweeping love encounters. Without a doubt, the relationship between the protagonist, Meredith Grey, and her superior, Derek Shepherd, has been a cornerstone of the show. Seeing them go through ups and downs, long periods of longing, make ups, and break ups, kept this Shondaland production going for much longer than anticipated. It was a welcoming assurance that, in a show where everything can change in the blink of an eye, these two characters always found their way back to each other. I mean, look at him! Those eyes, that smile! Those emotional declarations of love!

That being said, looking back at Meredith and McDreamy’s timeline, we can see how his perfect hair and sparkling blue eyes blinded fans into thinking he was a great catch. It was easy to miss because the show made Meredith look like an emotional mess in the early seasons. He was the perfect guy, new to Seattle, who would give her all the love and appreciation she deserved, but, he didn’t pick her. And then, he broke her heart. Again, and again. This is all just the first two seasons. McDreamy continued to display character flaws and temper tantrums that clearly indicated that he wasn’t as dreamy as everyone thought he was. Whether you are a McDreamy hater or a ‘Meredith and Derek forever’ type of fan, it can no longer be denied that McDreamy is far from perfect. Here are 20 Things Wrong with McDreamy We All Choose to Ignore.

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20 He failed to mention he was married

This one is a bit of an obvious one. Who starts a relationship and fails to mention they are married? Monsters, that’s who!

Season 1 of Grey’s Anatomy ends with the amazing cliff-hanger, the introduction of Addison Shepherd, Derek’s gorgeous redheaded wife. The show then does everything in its power to make sure Shepherd doesn’t come off as the bad guy. See, his wife was involved with someone else! Therefore, it’s totally fine that he never told Meredith he was still married. Somehow, this appeases the situation enough for people to still root for McDreamy. However, looking back on the first season and how pushy Derek was to start a relationship with Meredith, knowing it was nearly impossible for her, makes it clearer that Derek is not a great guy.

19 He pushed Meredith into a relationship

Derek and Meredith Meet on Grey's Anatomy

The first a-ha moment in Grey’s Anatomy is when intern Meredith Grey discovers her one-night encounter, whom she had kicked out of her house only hours before, was, in fact, the head of Neurosurgery. Of course, they have to forget about their encounter in order to be professional, right? Right?!

No. Derek continues to push the issue even though Meredith expresses how uncomfortable it is for her. She still needs to prove herself and become a great surgeon. He, on the other hand, has very little to lose, but it doesn’t stop McDreamy from pursuing Meredith, flirting constantly until she finally caves. From then on, things get worse for Meredith when everyone finds out, and of course, when his wife comes into town.

18 He treats Addison poorly and then gets back together with her

Derek Shepherd and Addison Montgomery Grey's Anatomy

If anyone can hold on to a grudge and sulk forever, it’s Derek. Yes, Addison was involved with someone else, Derek's best friend to be exact, however, Derek continues to treat her poorly because she simply showed up and wanted to fix their marriage. How dare she! It upsets him even more because it ruins his relationship with Meredith. Never mind all of his lies and deceit, it was definitely Addison’s unannounced visit that destroyed everything.

His behavior doesn’t improve when he chooses Addison over Meredith. Even though he commits to fixing his marriage, his heart is not in it from day one. He is dismissive, incommunicative, and uncaring. No one is saying things should snap back to normal after what happened between them, but it was clear that Derek didn’t really want to be with Addison.

17 He strings Meredith along only to choose Addison

The beginning of Season 2 spends a lot of time on Derek trying to prove he is really not that bad of a guy. He tells Meredith she was like coming up for fresh air, that he was drowning and she saved him, swoon-worthy stuff, but Meredith is angry and it is his job to fix the damage.

After McDreamy spends episodes convincing Meredith his marriage is over and how he could never forgive Addison, he hesitates the moment he is presented with divorce papers. He makes a good case for himself, saying it’s not easy to just throw away those vows, and he essentially asks Meredith to be patient and wait while he goes through this process. In the end, after all the patience and waiting, he picks Addison. He doesn’t even tell her! Meredith figures it out, to which he responds: “Yeah, she is my wife.”

16 He then stays in Seattle

Really, McDreamy? Really? After Derek gets back together with Addison, he should have left. He should have gone back home to New York with his wife and worked it out. Instead, he decides to stay in Seattle, where they have all made their personal drama public knowledge. Furthermore, Derek rubs his choice in Meredith’s face. Not only does he make things uncomfortable for Meredith, who has now assigned herself to the “Dirty Mistresses Club,” he makes it a difficult experience for his wife.

Addison has to face Meredith every day, the other woman who has feelings for her husband, and he also doesn’t make a compelling demonstration that he is fully over Meredith. As a result, Derek just ends up playing these two women, who each feel either double-crossed or insecure because of his behavior.

15 He forgot Their Moment

Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd

In Season 2, Meredith is racking her brain because she has forgotten what their last moment was. She then almost perishes from an explosion in the hospital, but that is just usual Grey’s Anatomy drama.

When Derek comes to see her at her house to make sure she is okay, she asks him if he remembers. He then proceeds to have one of his McDreamy moments and tells her he remembers her wearing her Dartmouth shirt and her hair was wet and smelled like flowers. It’s all very romantic and indicative that he isn’t over her, but the problem is, that wasn’t their last moment of affection. Earlier on in the season, when Meredith is still mad at him because he lied, she kisses him outside of the hospital because she no longer wants to fight with him.

14 He never lets Meredith move on

Meredith Dreams Greys Little Details

It’s bad enough Derek had an extramarital relationship, lied to his girlfriend, and then picked his wife afterward, but McDreamy doesn’t leave it at that. Meredith tried her best to move on from Derek by meeting new people, relying on her friends, and at one point, she even dates a great guy. However, Derek just can’t let her move on.

He tries to be friends with her, he shares a dog with her, all while trying as little as possible to mend his marriage. When Meredith is finally healing from the mess Derek made, he decides to do another one of his many love declarations that end up disarming her. He should have just left her completely alone to heal and move on as she thought fit.

13 He mistreats her for moving on

After wooing Meredith, lying to her, and breaking her heart, McDreamy has the gall to be angry at her for moving on with Finn, also known as McVet. He finds Meredith one night at McVet’s house and immediately assumes they had been together, which wasn’t true. However, even if it were, Derek has no right to be angry as he has long since broken up with Meredith and is married to Addison.

At the hospital, he huffs and puffs until he basically implies that she is involved with anyone and everyone. His anger is meant to indicate that he is jealous and has not been able to move on himself. However, it comes off condescending and judgmental. Thankfully, Meredith shuts him down by telling him he doesn’t get to judge her for fixing what he broke.

12 He is a hypocrite

One of the reasons why fans were ready to forgive McDreamy for hiding his marriage is because he had been hurt. After being double-crossed by his wife, audiences understand why Derek decided to shut out that part of his life. He clearly has no tolerance for betrayal and will not entertain any sympathy for anyone who has committed such actions.

The only problem is that he ends up doing the same actions himself. While he is in his weird, jealous phase because Meredith dared to be happy away from him, Derek delivers another one of his classic romantic speeches. As a result, he and Meredith kiss and have an epic encounter in the hospital that changes their relationship forever. The scene is one of the most memorable ones in Grey’s Anatomy, but it doesn’t change the fact that Derek betrayed his wife as well.

11 He bails on his marriage instead of acting like an adult

Initially, the brilliant neurosurgeon appears to be the nicest, good-natured guy in Seattle Grace Hospital. He lives in a trailer on a beautiful piece of land, is kind to everyone, and he has an adorable obsession with ferry boats; but it's safe to say that Derek has some anger management issues.

Aside from his frequent temper tantrums, Derek bails hard when things get rough. While it makes sense at first that he needed to leave his New York life and reset before dealing with it, he never gave any indication that he was ever going to resolve it. In fact, if Addison hadn’t shown up, who knows how long he would have ignored it? He should have told his closest friends, possibly his new girlfriend, or gotten a divorce, really, anything that would indicate he wasn’t in complete denial.

10 He makes Meredith’s life-threatening experience about himself

Derek Shepherd Saved Meredith Grey Grey's Anatomy

One of the major stories of Season 3 was the ferry collision that required the help of every Seattle Grace surgeon. It is also during this story arc that Meredith nearly loses her life. Before these events, Meredith was going through a hard emotional time with her mother and it is implied that maybe Meredith gave up on purpose.

Derek figures this out, knowing full well that Meredith can swim. Instead of offering support and asking about her fragile state, Derek makes it all about himself. At one point, he lets her know he is tired of breathing for her and treats her experience as another weight he has to carry.

9 He Gets Close To Rose while building Meredith’s dream house


In Season 4, Meredith and Derek were on weird terms. They had broken up by the end of Season 3, but they continued to see each other with no strings attached. However, at one point, things were back on track and Derek was planning on building their dream house. It's too bad he got distracted and ended up kissing someone else, a nurse named Rose.

He does the right thing and tells Meredith, but even she is confused at how one can plan to build a dream house and show affection to other people. Meredith points out that this is the reason why she never completely gives in. She can never fully trust him because he lies and hides things, but instead of accepting what is clearly true, McDreamy once again makes it about her issues.

8 He isn’t very nice to Meredith’s friends...

There has always been an invisible gap between Meredith’s life with her friends and her life with Derek. He is that forbidden love that doesn’t fit in at work or in her personal life. Her friends understand the struggles she faces as an intern, then as a resident and they are all figuring out their lives together as surgeons.

Even when Derek becomes a steady presence in Meredith’s life, he doesn’t do his best to become a part of this side of her life. Sure, it’s uncomfortable, since they are all his subordinates at work and Meredith’s confidants at the same time. Even so, he disregards them frequently, especially when he is ready to move in with Meredith and just assumes they will all move out instantly.

7 ... Or to his family

Derek is actually quite dismissive of anyone who is close to him. Fans first get a glimpse at Derek’s family when his sister, Nancy, visits in Season 2. Caught up with the whole “other woman” situation, she makes fun of Meredith and teases Derek to no end. He, on the other hand, treats her unpleasantly throughout her visit.

By all indications, Derek has a loving, supportive family. The only mentioned difficulty from his past is the way his father passed. Other than that, he is the only boy of a seemingly functioning family, but that doesn’t stop him from treating his siblings poorly, Amelia in particular. While Amelia has dealt with more difficulty than Derek (she lost her newborn child), he consistently minimizes her struggles along with her work, constantly treating her like an inferior neurosurgeon.

6 He takes all the credit for their clinical trial

Meredith shows an innovative side to her medical skills when she deals with a patient with an inoperable tumor. She takes the case to Derek, but it was her idea to start a clinical trial where they’d treat malignant gliomas by injecting a virus that would shrink the tumor.

For the rest of the season, Derek and Meredith work together to make the clinical trial a success, which is eventually successful, but Meredith can’t enjoy it because Derek ends up receiving all the credit. The findings are published as “The Shepherd Method”, which really upsets Meredith. He justifies the situation by telling her she is still a baby, as if that would help. Somehow, he pacifies her anger by giving her a present and telling her that he couldn't have ever done it without her.

5 He is disloyal… again!

At this point, it makes no sense that Derek was ever so enraged by Addison’s actions, never mind that he did the same to Addison with Meredith twice, or that he kissed Rose while he was with Meredith. Years later, when Meredith and Derek already have children together, McDreamy goes and does it again.

Their relationship was in a rough patch when Derek decides to pursue a new project in Washington D.C. Away from Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, and his wife and kids, Derek can only rely on the company of his associate, Renee Collier. His interactions with Renee slowly but surely change from professional to playful, even though Renee is the one who initiates, it was clear that Derek participated in this all along. He comes off as a hero when he pushes her away, but it shouldn't have made it as far as it did.

4 He has a bit of a God complex

In comparison to heart surgeon, Dr. Burke, Derek Shepherd always comes off as more relaxed and less arrogant. But once Burke leaves the series in Season 3, it’s very clear that Derek can be just as arrogant, if not more. He frequently hides under the façade that he is an empathetic, kind man; even though he possesses those qualities, they quickly disappear when his great legacy is threatened by anyone who can be better than him. He often does it to Amelia, his sister, whenever she tries something new in her surgical cases.

He even does it to Meredith. In one of their major fights about moving to D.C., Meredith retorts that his career has always taken priority. In the end, he has to be the hotshot surgeon and she is the intern he fell in love with.

3 He isn’t that great a doctor

Derek Shepherd is supposed to be a renowned doctor, the god of neurosurgery. It is mentioned so often that it just makes it all the worse when he messes up in the simplest of situations. When Meredith nearly drowns in Season 3, it is a miracle she survives, considering Derek’s CPR technique is all wrong. Maybe he was under great stress, but he should be able to remember his medical training!

He drops the ball again when Zola is vomiting and has a fever by diagnosing it as the flu. Zola has a VP shunt, a tube that keeps the pressure in her brain balanced by draining excess fluid. His first thought should have been that something was wrong with her shunt since she displayed clear symptoms that it wasn’t working.

2 He thinks Meredith can just up and leave with him to D.C.

Derek Meredith and Zola Shephard Grey's Anatomy

Derek appears to be a supportive husband when he turns down a job offer to do brain-mapping. He tells Meredith that it is time to place her career first and he will take a step back. That doesn’t last very long, though, as soon after, a government official coaxes Derek into taking the job and Derek agrees.

Once again, Derek goes back on his word, but more importantly, he believes that Meredith should just uproot her whole life because he says so. The decision to stay or go creates an emotional barrier between Derek and Meredith and while she knows her whole life is in Seattle, including the hospital they own, Derek just can’t understand why she won’t do this one thing for him.

1 His completely avoidable fate

Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd on Grey's Anatomy

It’s been a few years, but we still can’t get over it. Grey’s Anatomy decided to part ways with McDreamy in Season 11 as the character meets his end in a car accident. It is all the more draining because Derek and Meredith had decided to work things out as he was on his way from D.C. after quitting his job.

Derek stops on his way back after he witnesses a car crash and decides to help those affected. The episode is packed with panic-inducing moments that foreshadow how the ending won’t be a happy one. What makes it worse is that Derek gets fatally injured because he stopped to answer his phone in the middle of the road. It could have been easily avoided, but McDreamy’s fate was sealed and there was no going back.


Did you notice any other things wrong with McDreamy that didn't make the list? Let us know in the comments below!

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