Meredith and Derek's Relationship Timeline — All About Our Favorite 'Grey's Anatomy' Couple

At last fans could rejoice when MerDer decided to really try and be a couple.

Melissa Willets - Author

Mar. 11 2024, Published 1:09 p.m. ET

Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey, winners Favorite TV Drama for "Grey's Anatomy" at the 33rd Annual People's Choice Awards - Press Room at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles
Source: Getty Images

Fans of Grey's Anatomy will never forget the first moment that Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) first hooked up. Later that day, their seemingly random rendezvous was proven to be anything but — he was a doctor at the hospital where she would be interning.

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And so, the much-admired love story between Mer and Der began, winding through multiple seasons, and ultimately culminating in one of the most devastating losses in the history of TV.

Season 1, Episode 1 when Meredith meets Derek
Source: ABC

Season 1, Episode 1 when Meredith meets Derek

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Season 1, Episode 1: Meredith and Derek have a one-night stand, or so they think.

It might have been a one-night stand, except soon Meredith learns that the guy who was in her bed the night before, and left bleary-eyed the next morning, is actually an attending physician at Seattle Grace Hospital where she is set to begin interning. Awkward!

Throughout Season 1, the two try to stave off feelings for one another — her more so than him. Then, McDreamy and his younger love interest attempt to sneak around and hide their relationship from the rest of the staff.

Ultimately, this phase doesn't last long, and things move to the next level.

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Addison Montgomery and Derek Shepherd on Grey's Anatomy
Source: ABC

Addison Montgomery and Derrick Derek Shepherd

Season 1, Episode 9: Meredith learns that Derek is married!

Talk about a secret! Soon after Mer gives into her feelings for Dr. Shepherd, Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) shows up and announces that he is actually married — to her!

We were equally crushed.

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By Season 2, Dr. Montgomery is in Seattle to stay, but her hunky hubby announces that they are separated and she served him with divorce papers.

Shockingly, the couple we were all rooting for isn't meant to be yet, however, since Derek decides to try and work things out with Addison.

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Season 3: MerDer finally happens.

At last fans could rejoice when MerDer decides to really try and be a couple.

This season is definitely a beloved one in the series but culminates with the seemingly meant-to-be lovebirds breaking up again!

The good news is that long-simmering feelings for one another finally boil over again and the breakup doesn't last long.

And from there, the couple America fell in love with is back together — and even cohabitating!

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Season 5: Derek proposes to Meredith and they get married in a very MerDer way.

In true Grey's Anatomy fashion, every milestone moment you think is going to happen one way, well, doesn't. So it's no surprise really that Derek proposes to Meredith in an elevator at the hospital.

She says yes. And from there, the Post-it note wedding is upon us!

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Indeed, as fans well recall, the couple's wedding is as anti-climactic as possible, and sees the longtime lovers writing their vows on Post-its and just signing them. And just like that, holy matrimony is upon them.

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Season 7: Meredith and Derek become parents.

Following a devastating pregnancy loss, the doctors get married for real so they can adopt their daughter Zola. And then, there were three!

Of course, nothing can just stay happy on Grey's Anatomy. And so, a plane crash happens, naturally, with the show saying goodbye to series regulars Lexie (Chyler Leigh) and McSteamy (Eric Dane).

But by Season 8, Derek Bailey Shepherd has been born, making the Shepherds a family of four.

And just when we think the couple would settle into rhythmic family life, sob, Derek suffers a tragic accident.

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Season 11: Derek dies.

OK, so who among us was ready when Dr. Shepherd dies in a tragic and completely unexpected car accident?

It's still hard to believe that the character is gone, with his long-suffering wife (her mom, near-death experiences, etc.) taking him off life support.

Why is a question we are still asking ourselves! The only silver lining is that Derek left Meredith with a little gift in the form of a baby she would later name Ellis after her mom.

But the love story between the beloved Grey's characters was over, her dream sequence in Season 17 notwithstanding.

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