‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Why Patrick Dempsey Is Embarrassed By His McDreamy Rep

Patrick Dempsey is a charming actor who became a household name playing Dr. Derek Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy. But to legions of fans all over the world, Shepherd was better known as “McDreamy” — his nickname on the hit TV show.

Dempsey appeared on the show for over ten years and became one of the most-loved characters in the history of television. When he finally took his last bow on Grey’s Anatomy, viewers were traumatized. Even though Dempsey moved on to other projects, his role as Shepherd remains his most popular, and fans love when he talks about his time on the iconic television show.

Why was Derek Shepherd so popular?

Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Dempsey | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Dr. Shepherd was first introduced to viewers in the pilot episode of Grey’s Anatomy, which premiered on March 2005. Shepherd was at the center of many of Seattle Grace Hospital’s biggest dramas, and his relationship with Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) formed the epicenter of many of the show’s events. While the two experienced a will-they-won’t-they romance for several years, Grey and Shepherd ultimately got together. Their chemistry was the subject of many heated debates, fanfiction stories, and viewer theories.

The character of Dr. Shepherd earned the nickname “McDreamy” due to his good looks, his natural charm, and his good-natured appeal. Dr. Shepherd ultimately proved that he had the substance to go with his undeniable style, especially in season three, when he saved Grey from near-death by drowning. Of course, fans also loved the moment that Grey and Shepherd wrote out their vows to each other on Post-It notes, providing a sweet note of romance in the midst of the bustling hospital. Still, nothing can last forever, and Dempsey’s days on Grey’s Anatomy were numbered. 

Why did Patrick Dempsey leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?

In early 2015, it was announced that Dempsey would be leaving Grey’s Anatomy to focus on other projects. Dempsey admitted that while he was “grateful” for his time on the show, he wanted more time with his family and that meant taking a bit more control over his own schedule. Showrunner Shonda Rhimes revealed that the decision for Dempsey to leave the show was a mutual one and that there was no bad blood between him and the show that made him a star. 

The way that Dempsey’s character left the show was very controversial, and not all fans agreed with it. At the end of season eleven, Shepherd is involved in a car crash that leaves him brain-dead. Dr. Grey is forced to make the decision whether or not to remove him from life support, which she reluctantly does. Grey is pregnant with their child at the time, and the following season would see her and all the other characters on the show struggling with the fallout from Shepherd’s death.

Rhimes defended the way Shepherd met his end by saying that it wouldn’t have made sense for him to leave the show any other way and that Shepherd’s death “was the only way to make Meredith and Derek’s magic remain true and forever frozen in time.”

Patrick Dempsey’s kids make fun of him

Four years after Derek Shepherd’s death on Grey’s Anatomy, Dempsey has no regrets. In a recent interview, Dempsey opened up about how his kids see him after his life-changing role on Grey’s Anatomy. Dempsey admitted that his kids absolutely do not see him as a heartthrob and that they don’t let him take himself seriously at all. To his three kids, Dempsey is “just dad.”

While Dempsey has mostly stayed on hiatus from acting, he has devoted much of his time to his hobby of auto racing, his charity work and, of course, raising his family.