After we said goodbye to Patrick Dempsey‘s dreamy doctor alter ego, Derek Shepherd, in 2015, we didn't think we'd ever see McDreamy again. But Shepherd made a shocking return in the season 17 premiere that left fans shocked and elated. In honor of the character's surprise appearance, we’re looking back on the 11 best moments that earned him his famous moniker.
1. "Why don’t you just come back down here …"
The relationship between Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek got the Grey’s Anatomy ball rolling, so to speak. Within the show’s first 30 seconds, we get a peek at Derek’s nearly naked body, and soon after his luscious locks of hair. After what she thought was a one-night stand, Meredith kicked Derek out (even though he tried to get her to reconsider). Little did we (and she) know at the time, however, that Meredith’s cute overnight guest would turn out to be her boss.
2. "I’m not looking at you."
After Derek chose to work things out with his wife, Addison (Kate Walsh) – breaking Meredith’s heart in the process – audiences were in for a long season of so-thick-you-could-slice-through-it sexual tension. All that frustration cumulated into the infamous season 2 exam room scene in which Meredith chastised Derek for lusting after her, and he fired back that he couldn’t help it. After a few minutes of sparring, the two did what they’d been waiting all season to do.
3. "I’m new in town"
The first few minutes of the pilot showed us what happened just after Meredith and Derek met, but it wasn’t until the season 3 opener that we saw what happened beforehand. Derek dropped a few pickup lines, and, although Meredith initially gave him the cold shoulder, he eventually wore her down. And we all know what happens next …
4. "I’m in love with you"
The end of the second season left things up in the air for Meredith and Derek. But they became a lot clearer when, at the end of the season 3 opener, Derek popped over to Meredith’s house and confessed his love to her in that teary-eyed, emotive way he’s just so good at.
5. "I didn’t want to hurt your feelings"
Yes, Derek’s had lots of epic romantic moments, but sometimes it was sweet, simple domesticity that made Derek the McDreamiest. In a season 3 scene, he bashfully admitted to Meredith that he’d been sleeping on the couch, setting an early alarm and crawling back into bed before she woke up in order to avoid her snoring. Meredith was appalled, but the would-be tense moment dissolved into a super-cute, giggle-filled tickle fest.
6. "Seriously. Seriously. Seriously."
Sex was always an integral part of Meredith and Derek’s relationship. After all, that’s how it started. So any roundup of Derek’s McDreamiest moments would be incomplete without some foreplay. This season 3 bathtub scene, in which Derek attempted to seduce Meredith – after they decided they would “wait” to have sex – was a perfect example.
7. "I’ll always show up"
Even after two and a half seasons of an on-and-off romance with Derek, Meredith still didn’t know much about being in a relationship. However, after a fight, Derek showed up at her bedroom door and sweetly told her that, no matter what might happen between them, he’d always come back to her.
8. "I want to spend the rest of my life with you"
Took them long enough! In season 5, Derek finally popped the question to Meredith in the most romantic possible fashion. He proposed in the elevator where they’d shared many a tryst, and which he had covered with X-ray scans from the surgeries they’d worked on together.
9. "To love each other even when we hate each other"
The two busy surgeons didn’t have time for a wedding – even if it was just a quick trip to city hall. To remedy the issue, Meredith and Derek decided to write out their vows and seal them with a kiss. The two eventually got legally married so they’d be able to adopt their first child, Zola, but this intimate vow-writing session remains one of his McDreamiest moments.
10. "Do your baby’s hair"
As Mark “McSteamy” Sloan (Eric Dane) implied in the scene below, the only thing dreamier than a hot doctor is a hot doctor with a baby. But even hot doctors need a few lessons when they dive into parenthood. Same with McDreamy when he became a McDaddy. One of the funniest? How to do his daughter’s hair. You’d think a man with such great hair would know better.
Never before has one word been so shocking. After dying in season 11, we thought we would never see Derek Shepherd again, but the Grey's Anatomy writers had different plans. In the season 17 premiere, McDreamy appeared in Meredith's hallucination after she passes out in the hospital parking lot. The pair lock eyes on a beach and Derek — who is still as dreamy as ever — says just one word before the episode ends: "Meredith."
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
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