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info borrowed from wikipedia.org


Derek was born to a working/lower-middle class family in New York, and is the only son in a family of five children. His father died when he was still quite young, but he and his sisters overcame their less-than-privileged beginnings and all five Shepherd children completed medical school and became doctors. His sister Nancy is an OB-GYN and another, Kathleen, is a psychiatrist. Derek’s childhood best friend was Mark Sloan, who came from a wealthier but emotionally deficient background and was like a second son to the Shepherd family. Derek married his medical school girlfriend, Addison Montgomery, c. 1994, and the two began their residencies, studying under Dr. Richard Webber. Following residencies and fellowships, Derek and Addison quickly became very successful in their respective fields. They appeared to lead an affluent lifestyle, owning both a Manhattan brownstone overlooking Central Park and a home in the Hamptons, as well as running their own private practices. However, their success and busy workloads put a strain on their marriage and the two grew apart; the emotional distance eventually drove Addison to cheat on Derek with his best friend, Mark. After discovering Addison in bed with Mark, Derek declared the marriage over and relocated to Seattle, accepting a job offer from his former teacher, Dr. Richard Webber, as Head of Neurosurgery at Seattle Grace Hospital and trading in the brownstone for an Airstream trailer on a large, rustic property overlooking the water.


Professionally, Derek is regarded as a very successful surgeon; his services result in two million dollars’ worth of annual revenue for the hospital, and Derek has performed numerous complicated, risky procedures, including a stand-still operation, double-barrel brain bypasses, and separation surgery for adult conjoined twins. His confidence was shaken slightly when his surgery to repair a gunshot injury on a colleague, Preston Burke, resulted in Burke’s hand developing a tremor, but Derek remains a competent and skilled surgeon who has not forgotten the importance of compassion and bedside manner when dealing with patients. Family is very important to Derek. His decision to work on his marriage was based largely on his sense of obligation to Addison as his family, the woman with whom he shared “eleven birthdays, eleven Thanksgivings, [and] eleven Christmases.” Although he is sometimes annoyed by his overbearing mother and sisters, he is nonetheless aware of their closeness and has no doubt that all four of his “very girly” sisters would be at his bedside if he were ever sick. His profound hurt over Mark’s betrayal is compounded by his view of Mark as his brother, the one constant male influence in his life since the death of his father as a child. He has nine nieces and five nephews among his sisters, but no children of his own; Addison admitted that she wasn’t ready for children, although Derek wanted them.

Character History

Soon after arriving in Seattle, Derek met Meredith Grey at a bar and went home with her for a one-night stand, only to discover the next day that she was a new surgical intern at the hospital. Although she initially rejected his advances as inappropriate due to their working relationship, Meredith eventually agreed to date Derek, although he did not tell her about his marriage. His charismatic, charming personality and good looks earned him the nickname “McDreamy” among Meredith and her friends. However, their fledgling relationship came to a sudden halt when Addison arrived in Seattle for a consult at Richard Webber’s request. Addison had also brought the divorce papers, but made it clear that if Derek was willing to give her a second chance, she wanted to give their marriage another try. Derek struggled over his choice, but ultimately his sense of obligation to his marriage vows won, and he left Meredith to return to his wife. The choice was not as simple as Derek had anticipated, and he found that he still had very strong feelings for Meredith, even as he tried to repair his marriage to Addison. Shortly before Christmas, he confessed to Addison that Meredith had not been a fling, but that he’d fallen in love with her; Addison was willing to wait it out, although the situation was complicated further when she and Derek took in Meredith’s dog, Doc. Although Derek eventually admitted that the problems in their marriage were partially his fault, his love for Meredith continued to make him emotionally distant from Addison. When Meredith began dating Finn Dandridge, Doc’s veterinarian, Derek became so withdrawn and consumed with jealousy that Addison confronted Derek about his ongoing infatuation with Meredith, and even asked Meredith if she were sleeping with Derek. At a hospital-sponsored prom for a dying patient, Derek and Meredith’s emotional affair reached the point of no-return. After a heated argument in an exam room, Derek and Meredith had sex, but before they could discuss the implications of their actions, Meredith was called away to deal with Izzie, whose fiancé had just passed away. The next day, Addison found Meredith’s panties, which had been left in Derek’s tuxedo, and pinned them to the hospital bulletin board while Derek went to Meredith’s home and professed his love to her for the first time. Their reunion, however, was not immediate. Initially, Derek felt immense guilt over the breakdown of his marriage with Addison, and went to the hotel room where she was staying to apologize. Instead, he was appalled to find out that Addison, in a drunken stupor, had called Mark in New York to fly to Seattle for a "trans-continental booty call". To Derek's disdain, Mark decided to take up a position at Seattle Grace in a bid to woo Addison back. Although he and Addison acknowledged the end of their marriage and began divorce proceedings, Meredith was less certain, and decided to date both Derek and Finn before making a decision between the two. While they were dating, Meredith was admitted for an appendectomy, and Finn’s concern for her during her illness led Derek to reconsider his pursuit of her. As she recovered from surgery, he told Meredith that he was walking away, freeing her to be with Finn, “the better guy”. Meredith, however, had already decided that Derek was “the one” for her, and broke up with Finn. She kept the break-up from Derek for another week, and made the unfortunate timing mistake of telling him just after Addison had confessed that she and Mark had not just been a one-night stand, as she had lead Derek to believe, but had actually lived together for two months after Derek left for Seattle. Meredith’s introduction to Derek’s family was no less problematic; she stopped by the trailer one night to talk to Derek and discovered a strange woman lying across Derek’s bed and Derek, wearing nothing more than a towel and a very startled expression. She would later learn that the woman was Derek’s sister, Nancy, but the explanation of the misunderstanding did not make Meredith any more appealing to Nancy, who continually referred to Meredith as the “slutty intern”. Derek defended Meredith, leading Nancy to acknowledge Derek’s feelings for her, but Nancy encouraged her brother to take some time to figure out what he wanted rather than worrying about the women in his life. Following Nancy’s advice, Derek asked Meredith for time to take some space for himself, and then embarked on a very brief camping trip, which only cemented his desire for Meredith. He found her in the very place they had first met—Joe’s bar—and they agreed to start their relationship over from the very beginning. Derek's professional life hit an obstacle when Richard Webber announced his plans to retire. Derek had originally been promised the chief position when Richard offered him a job, but was surprised to find that the position had instead been offered to Preston Burke. When word got out about Richard's retirement, Addison and Mark joined in the race for chief. After a disasterous accident involving a ferryboat, Derek was sent to the scene to assess and treat head traumas. When he found her ID tag on a patient, Derek realized that Meredith was missing, and noticed that the young girl who had been with Meredith was unattended. The young girl led Derek to the edge of the dock and communicated that Meredith had fallen into the water. Derek jumped in after her and pulled her out, but despite continuous CPR, she was still unresponsive upon arriving at the hospital. Derek worked to revive her until his colleagues took over and sent him to wait in the hall while they tried to save Meredith's life. While he waited, he visited Meredith's mother, Ellis, and tried unsuccessfully to revive her when she flatlined. When Meredith recovered and woke up, he broke the news to her of her mother's death and spent the night with her in her hospital bed.

info borrowed from wikipedia.org