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Grey’s Anatomy: Derek’s 5 Best (& 5 Worst) Traits

Derek from Grey’s Anatomy might have been a world-class neurosurgeon, but he had an ego to match his talent, and often put his own needs first.

The gorgeous Derek Shepherd in the ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy has been responsible for a string of broken hearts over the years. However, pleasing to the eyes though he was, Derek had his flaws, which is probably what made him all the more flesh and blood.

Derek might have been a world-class neurosurgeon, but he had an ego to match his talent, and he often put his own needs over everyone else’s. Even his fairytale romance with Meredith hit the rocks because of certain decisions he made. However, questionable though some of his traits have been, the character was shown to be in a tough spot, trying hard to make his marriage work while making big steps, careerwise.

10
Worst: He Was A Serial Cheater

The dreamy neurosurgeon had developed a pattern of cheating on his significant others. In fact, he began his journey on the show by cheating on his wife, who admittedly, had cheated on him first. But his answer to that was to run away to Seattle and have a rebound with the “girl in the bar.”

Then, he cheated with Meredith again while he was apparently trying to sort things out with his wife, and much later, when he was in DC, he kissed a research fellow. Of course, he came around pretty quickly, but the unfortunate fact was that he did have a tendency to either cheat or almost-cheat.

9
Best: He Was Grateful To Cristina

Derek knew how to show true gratitude. He practically owed his life to Cristina Yang, who had performed surgery on him under extreme duress during the shocking shooting incident at the hospital in season 6. Cristina experienced PTSD shortly afterward and was unable to bring herself to come to work. At this time, Derek was the only one whose patience and understanding helped her work through her issues. Unlike others, who pestered her to come back to work, Derek took it slow, giving her time, taking her fishing, and discussing things with her that seemed to capture her fancy, that he knew had nothing to do with work.

He was a pillar of support to Cristina at the time, making sure that the person who saved his life didn’t get destroyed in the process.

8
Worst: He Was Condescending

Derek can be rather condescending, especially when it comes to his younger sister, Amelia. The latter was a brilliant neurosurgeon as well and needed her older brother’s support and encouragement to get back her confidence, but all Derek did, at least in the beginning, was to put her down and made her feel small.

Amelia had had a dependency on drugs, but Derek had no business holding that against her when she was clearly ready to start afresh. He constantly made her feel as though she was neither capable nor competent, and even tried to strong-arm her into making decisions when he himself had handed over his duties as the Chief of Neurosurgery to her before leaving for DC.

7
Best: He Was A Great Dad

Derek was a good dad to his kids and his connection with Zola was especially adorable. He also offered to take time off from work and look after the children so that Meredith could have the time she needed to boost her own career and work on her research.

Who can forget Derek in the tiny tiara attending little Zola’s tea party or the way he took care of her when she got a stomach bug while her mom was away appearing for her attending exam? Derek Shepherd was a great dad, something that made his fans’ hearts melt just a bit more, every time.

6
Worst: He Was Self-Centered

Derek was ambitious, but that is not something one can be called out for. However, this often made him blind to the feelings or needs of others, to the extent that he seemed highly self-centered.

A Chief of Surgery dependent on alcohol was definitely not good, but Derek acted sneakily and for his own benefit when he told the board about Richard’s drinking problem so that he could step into his shoes. Later still, he put his career above Meredith’s when he was asked by the White House to head a project that was about mapping the human brain. He expected her to simply give up her career and life in Seattle and follow him in DC, which led to a strained relation between them. In fact, Derek had a habit of making decisions and imposing them on Meredith, such as when he wanted to start a family.

5
Best: He Respects The Enemy

Derek respected his enemy and didn’t take his rivalries lightly. For instance, when he and Finn were vying with each other for Meredith’s affections, he realized that Finn was the better guy and that he had fewer chances of hurting Meredith than Derek.

He even asked Meredith to pick Finn, although his heart must have been breaking as he said it. His initial jealousy towards Finn made little sense since it was he who had left Meredith for Addison, but at least he realized that Finn didn’t deserve any less than himself.

4
Worst: He Was Resentful

Derek was deeply resentful of Meredith when he gave up his opportunity to work for the White House. True, it was an opportunity of a lifetime and not many ambitious people would have been happy to give it up.

However, Derek did give it up, but then continued to sulk and seemed to blame Meredith for having forced him to make the decision. He did eventually realize that family mattered to him more than anything else, but it took a while to get there, during which time his relationship with his wife stayed strained.

3
Best: Cares Deeply

Derek is not just an excellent neurosurgeon, but he also cares deeply for his patients and devotes himself to selflessly saving lives. Earlier on in the series, he lost a pregnant patient due to an error he had committed, and that took a huge toll on him, so much so that he fell into depression and stopped coming to work.

Then again, in the tragic episode where Derek passed away so heartbreakingly, he had just singlehandedly saved the lives of multiple people who had been involved in a major accident. Had he gone his own way, he might have lived to see another day, but he stayed back to help as many as he could, and that showed exactly how much he cared.

2
Worst: He Takes Things For Granted

Derek took things for granted that everyone would blindly act exactly as he wished and didn’t bother consulting Meredith, with whom he shared his life, before he took major decisions that affected her.

For instance, he wanted Izzie and George to move out because he was moving in with Meredith, but forgot to mention it to the latter. He had practically planned and envisaged a whole life in DC for Meredith, himself, and the kids, without talking it out it with her. He even went so far as to discuss a position for Meredith at the James Madison Hospital, again without talking to her first.

1
Best: He Was Inherently Noble

Derek Shepherd is inherently noble. His decision to go back to his wife after Meredith gave the swoon-worthy, “Pick me, choose me, love me,” has irked fans ever since. But emotions aside, Derek’s decision to forgive Addison for her transgressions to keep his marriage of 10 years from falling apart, was noble.

Moreover, he did give up the invite to join the White House team a few times initially, until the President himself called, which showed that he was after all, capable of compromise. Finally, the way he refused to give up saving the lives of people, especially in the final episode, made him a good man indeed.

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