What Episode Does Derek Shepherd Die? & 9 Other Important Derek Episodes From Grey's Anatomy

There is going to be a big shift in Grey’s Anatomy now that it’s confirmed that star Ellen Pompeo will have a reduced role in the upcoming nineteenth season. The last time the show had such a major overhaul was when Patrick Dempsey’s Derek Shepherd met his demise back in season 11.

Interest in Derek’s role has increased in recent times since none of Meredith’s love interests have managed to match up. Even on his own, Derek had several episodes that showcased his quality and importance. These range from how he faced hospital shooter Gary Clark to the way he came to terms with his love for Meredith.


Derek Punches Mark In "Yesterday" (S2.E18)

Mark and Derek get into a fight in Grey's Anatomy

“Yesterday” was where Derek proved just how much he was in love with Meredith. It was the episode where Mark Sloan arrived in Seattle and Derek punched him out the moment he saw Mark talking to Meredith. It also planted the seeds for Derek and Addison’s divorce since the latter witnessed more passion there than anything she’d received from him in their marriage.

Derek and Mark’s rivalry had been teased the season before, and it finally came to life onscreen. The episode went to show that Meredith’s love was something Derek didn’t plan to let go of, highlighting what had lacked in his relationship with Addison.

Derek And Meredith Sleep Together In "Losing My Religion" (S2.E27)

Derek and Meredith at the prom

“Losing My Religion” is one of the saddest Grey’s Anatomy episodes, as Derek gives in to his feelings for Meredith at the expense of his marriage to Addison. Having avoided confronting how they felt, Meredith and Derek hooked up in secret at the impromptu prom at the hospital.

Derek also established himself as a contender for Meredith’s heart, with the latter conflicted between him and Finn, whom she had been seeing. Viewers were encouraged to feel just as torn with the situation since Derek now had a chance with Meredith but had crossed the line to do so.

Derek Tells Meredith To Be With Finn In "What I Am" (S3.E4)

Derek visits Meredith at the hospital in Grey's Anatomy

"What I Am" is when Derek showed his selfless side when he backed out of wanting to be with Meredith for the sake of her happiness. The episode saw Derek interacting with numerous people who ultimately gave him a newfound perspective, where he realized he’d judged Addison and Mark but was doing the same with Meredith now.

Derek chose to take responsibility and asked Meredith to go with Finn because he genuinely wanted to be with her and not out of competition or misplaced sentiment. However, it only proved to Meredith that Derek really was the one for her since he set his own feeling aside to make her happy.

Derek And Meredith Become A Couple In "Freedom" (S4.18)

Derek and Meredith kissing in Grey's Anatomy

Derek and Meredith finally got on the same page in the season 4 finale, where they became a couple once and for all. They come to this realization when they work together on a case that forces them to confront their feelings, with the pair concluding that any problem they have is worth facing as a couple.

Since it was Meredith who had been reluctant to fully commit, she performed a grand gesture of love by lighting up candles for the house she wanted to live in with Derek. It was a highly important episode for Derek because his search for love was effectively over.

Derek Proposes To Meredith In "Elevator Love Letter" (S5.E19)

Meredith and Derek in an elevator in Grey's Anatomy

Derek went on a streak of self-doubt and depression after losing a patient in season 5, even hurting Meredith by tossing the ring he intended to propose to her with. That’s why “Elevator Love Letter” was so important, as it saw Derek move on from his depression and propose to Meredith.

It was a firm step toward improving his self-worth, with Derek deciding to get back into his work by trying to cure Izzie’s tumor. Moreover, his proposal to Meredith was one of the sweetest things Derek did in Grey's Anatomy. It showed that he appreciated her sticking by him during the dark time of his life and also served as an apology.

Derek Faces The Hospital Shooter In "Sanctuary" (S6.E23)

Derek looks ahead sadly in Grey's Anatomy

“Sanctuary” is the episode where Derek gets shot by Gary Clark, the husband of a patient whom Derek was unable to save. Derek’s interaction with Gary proved how courageous he was, as the doctor knew he was Gary’s target but focused on saving the others from the latter’s wrath.

Derek’s speech to Gary to make him understand what he was going was wrong is also one of the more moving pieces of dialogue in the series. Although Gary proved to be irredeemable, Derek’s selflessness was clear for Grey’s Anatomy fans to see.

Derek Puts His Family First In "With Or Without You" (S11.E17)

Derek looking at Meredith in Grey's Anatomy

Derek was one of the best characters in Grey’s Anatomy’s eleventh season because his arc was to realize that he valued his family before his career. This came to a conclusion in “With or Without You,” where Derek came back to Meredith to tell her he can’t live without her.

It was a huge step for Derek, having become estranged from his wife for previously moving to Washington to favor his career over her and the children. Derek’s decision was also the last arc completed for him, as he reconciled with his family before passing away just a few episodes later.

Derek Dies In "How To Save A Life" (S11.E21)

Meredith looks at Derek injured in a hospital bed in Grey's Anatomy

“How to Save a Life” ranks as one of Derek’s best episodes in Grey’s Anatomy and the very last one where he’s alive. Derek gave his life in rescuing someone else. His point of view is shown when doctors fail to save him as he passes on.

Derek's death changed the dynamic of Grey’s Anatomy permanently, leaving Meredith with the decision to turn off his life support and allow him to die. Despite the tragic nature of the episode, it’s still one of Grey’s Anatomy’s most memorable as Derek bowed out of the show.

Derek's Final Voicemail Is In "You're My Home" (S11.E25)

Derek talking on the phone in Grey's Anatomy

Derek had already been deceased for some time within the show’s chronology and had a short scene in “You're My Home,” but it proved to be a crucial one. Meredith let Derek’s sister Amelia listen to the final voice mail he left on the former’s phone, giving Amelia the closure she needed to move on from her brother’s death.

It also served as a goodbye for Grey’s Anatomy fans, who got to see Derek when he was alive and well for a final time with the knowledge that this was a firm farewell. The episode was also the last time Meredith dealt with Derek’s loss at such a big level, following which she had him as part of her loving memory.

Meredith Sees Derek In A Covid Hallucination In "Good As Hell" (S17.E13)

Derek talking to Meredith at the beach in Grey's Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy viewers thought they had seen the last of Derek in the eleventh season until he reappeared as part of Meredith’s hallucinations during her COVID-19 illness. “Good as Hell” is when Derek’s manifestation asked her to return to the living with the promise that she would see him again.

The episode went to show that Meredith needed Derek to tell her that she would be happy, as she saw her former husband as the only person who could do so. With the likelihood that this really is the last time that fans might see Derek, it’s an important one for viewers to hold on to.

NEXT: 10 Best Medical TV Shows Of 2022 So Far, According To Ranker