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The long-running medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy, has been airing on ABC since 2005. Fans of the show have seen a lot of characters come and go over the past 15 years.

However, one character death that hit fans especially hard was that of Dr. Derek Shepherd. The good Dr. Shepherd earned the nickname McDreamy among characters and fans alike. While Derek’s death was hard to swallow for many fans, writers had actually foreshadowed it in both seasons one and five.

Read on to learn more about the lovable doctor and how he met his bitter end during season 11 of Grey’s Anatomy.

Who is Dr. McDreamy?

When Grey’s Anatomy premiered in 2005, Dr. Shepherd was introduced as the newly appointed Head of Neurosurgery at Seattle Grace Hospital. He had just arrived in Seattle from New York City, after being enticed to come by former mentor Dr. Richard Webber.

At the time, Shepherd was married to a fellow surgeon, Dr. Addison Montgomery. While the couple had already been married for a decade, they parted ways in 2007 after multiple affairs were conducted by both parties. 

One of the affairs Dr. Shepherd strikes up is with the young intern, Dr. Meredith Grey. Despite how the relationship started out, the two marry in 2011 and become a favorite couple among fans.

They become parents together when they adopt their oldest daughter, Zola Grey Shepherd, from Africa. Their second child, Derek Bailey Shepherd, is born to the pair in 2013. However, familial bliss is cut short for the Grey-Shepherd family.   

A tragic end for Dr. Shepherd  

Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ stars Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo as Derek Shepherd and Meredith Grey | Randy Holmes/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

While Meredith and Derek enjoyed some sweet times together on the show, their happiness is ultimately short-lived. During the end of season 11, Derek is involved in a tragic car accident and dies of complications.

The good doctor witnessed a car crash and pulled over to help the victims. In an unfortunate set of circumstances, Derek is hit by another vehicle after trying to help the original victims. 

Dr. Shepherd survives the initial crash. However, he is taken to a local hospital where the doctors on staff fail to give him the proper treatment following the accident.

When he arrives at the hospital, he can hear but is unable to speak. He has to listen to the doctors misdiagnose his injuries without being able to give input and ultimately dies from unprioritized brain bleeding.

The foreshadowing of the end 


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While Derek’s final moments are sad to watch, writers of the show actually provided a subtle foreshadowing of how Derek would die early on in the series. When Meredith and Derek initially got together in season one, Derek tells Meredith that he has fears of landing in a coma.

Derek makes Meredith promise that if he’s ever in that position that she makes sure his sisters are by his side as he passes away. Unfortunately, Derek does meet this end.

However, Meredith doesn’t call his family during his final moments. This ends up being a point of contention between Meredith and Derek’s sister, Dr. Amelia Shepherd, in the following seasons. 

Along with the foreshadowing from Derek himself in season one, during season five, Meredith provides a further foreshadowing of how Derek will meet his end on the series.

During the fifth season of Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith experiences recurring dreams of Derek dying in a terrible accident. These dreams are very vivid and painful for Meredith to work through.

Sadly, a few seasons later, Meredith’s dreams would become a sad reality as Derek lost his life following a tragic accident. A few weeks after Derek’s tragic end, Meredith finds out she is pregnant and gives birth to their third child, Ellis Shepherd, a few months later.