‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Some Fans Say Meredith and Derek Had Problems in the Early Seasons Because He Was ‘Self Righteous’ and ‘Condescending’

Grey’s Anatomy introduced the love story between Meredith and Derek (Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey) in the show’s pilot episode. The Grey Sloan Memorial doctors went from a casual fling to a steady couple almost overnight. Although some fans always thought that MerDer was an endgame, several TV watchers didn’t feel the power couple was right for each other. 

Meredith and Derek actors Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey during an episode of 'Grey's Anatomy'
Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo as Meredith and Derek| Craig Sjodin/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Meredith and Derek had an on-again-off-again relationship on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ 

During Grey’s Anatomy Season 1, viewers of the medical drama met Dr. Meredith Grey. The pilot, “A Hard Day’s Night,” follows the Dartmouth graduate on her first day of residency. While at work, Meredith and Derek learn that they work at the same hospital. To make matters worse, the neurosurgeon is also Meredith’s boss and teacher. 

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Despite their work relationship, Derek and Meredith decided to continue dating. The couple was seemingly on the right track when his wife, Addison Forbes Montgomery (Kate Walsh), made her debut in the season one finale. 

Although he briefly ended things with Meredith, Derek ultimately divorced Addison. However, Meredith couldn’t find the courage to open up to her boyfriend fully. During season 4, the pair broke up again, and Derek started dating a nurse named Rose (Lauren Stamile). In the season 4 finale, Meredith won Derek back with a house of candles on his lot of land. The doctors then got married in season 5.

Why some fans believe Derek was ‘unfair’ to Meredith during ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Seasons 1-3

After their rocky start, Derek and Meredith stayed together until he died in season 10. The death came as a blow to MerDer fans who wanted to see them make it. However, some Reddit commenters pointed out that the couple ruined their relationship after Derek’s “unfair” treatment of Meredith in the first three seasons of Grey’s

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“It seems to me that he’s always the one apologizing,” one commenter said of Derek in the thread. “He never told Meredith he was married and when Addison shows up, he goes back to Addison. Meanwhile, Meredith is made to feel like a “dirty mistress” when she did nothing wrong.” 

“Upon rewatch, I realized that while Derek loved Meredith, whenever he was going through personal issues, or he disagreed with Meredith’s actions, he wouldn’t hesitate to become self-righteous, condescending, or outright mean to her. He would apologize later on, but it would play out the same way over and over again.

“I feel you and sort of agree,” a fan wrote. “But ultimately, I understand him walking away. He’s in love with Meredith, and she’s not ready to commit.” 

MerDer reunited in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 17

In Grey’s Anatomy Season 17, the show’s writers tackled the COVID-19 pandemic. During the second episode, Meredith gets diagnosed with the virus. Soon, she enters a coma, which lands her on a fantasy beach. Throughout the season, several of Meredith’s loved ones, including Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) and Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh), and George O’Malley (T.R. Knight). The show also reunited Meredith and Derek five years after Dempsey’s exit. MerDer’s reunion allowed the doctors to catch up as Meredith decides to live or die from COVID.

RELATED: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Why Patrick Dempsey Described Filming Derek’s Death as ‘Just Another Work Day’

Pompeo shared why MerDer got together again after several seasons. While speaking with Jimmy Kimmel, she said she and Dempsey had a pleasant time shooting their scenes. 

“It was so fun,” Pompeo said. “Because we know that people are going to freak out, and we all know 2020 has been a really long, ugly road. And we were so happy just to be able to film these scenes and know how much joy it was gonna bring people. We definitely had a ball.”