Grey’s Anatomy may be a medical drama (and a successful one at that, since the 16th season is currently airing), but fans are really watching for the love stories. And the greatest love story of all? That would be the relationship between Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey).
After flirting at Joe’s in the pilot, the two start seeing one another, but not without a fair number of obstacles along the way. Eventually, they get married, have a family, and then, of course, Derek sadly passes away. While there are tons of fans who will always love this pair, there are many reasons why they might not deserve the “best couple ever” designation. Here are five times that Meredith and Derek were the perfect couple, along with five times that they aren’t.
10 Perfect: The Post-It Note Marriage Scene
Fans of Grey’s Anatomy love when Meredith and Derek get married with a post-it note, so it definitely had to make this list. This is one example of when these two characters are absolutely the perfect couple.
Is anything more romantic than forgoing tradition and doing what feels right to you as a couple? The words on the post-it note are incredibly beautiful, making fans everywhere wish they had their own Derek or Meredith. In the season five episode “Now Or Never,” Derek presents Meredith with the idea of signing the post-it note and deciding that they’re husband and wife. The note itself is infamous: “Love each other even when we hate each other” and “no running” are the most popular parts.
9 Not: He’s Married When They Meet
While it’s a problem that Meredith is an intern and Derek is a doctor when they date in the first season of Grey’s Anatomy, there’s a worse issue: he’s married to Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh). This is definitely an argument against Meredith and Derek being the perfect couple.
Maybe things would be better if he had simply explained to Mer what was going on in the beginning, but he doesn’t. And Meredith learns the truth when Addison comes to the hospital. It’s a pretty bad scene (but great drama).
8 Perfect: He Builds Her A House
Referred to as “The Dream House,” Derek makes sure that he and Meredith have a great place to live and raise their family when he builds her a home.
This is so romantic and sweet, and it’s even more amazing since Meredith probably never thought that someone would do that for her. It’s a grand gesture that proves that Derek loves her so much and will never leave her (well, willingly, at least).
7 Not: Derek Picks Addison Over Meredith
In the season two episode “Into You Like a Train,” Derek actually picks Addison and wants to attempt to repair their marriage. This is pretty bonkers since fans have always been able to tell that Derek and Meredith are an epic couple who have something special that doesn’t come around all the time.
It’s the wrong decision, and while Derek does realize that, he never should have done it in the first place.
6 Perfect: They Get Through Really Hard Times
Meredith is famous for being an incredibly dark character who never catches a break and seems to have really bad luck. She almost drowns, has a miscarriage, sees her mom attempt to end her life, and that’s not all of the tragedy and pain that she experiences.
Meredith and Derek are the perfect couple because they get through really hard times together. He stops her from drowning, he loves her despite any flaws, and he teaches her that she can be loved and cared for and can do the same for him.
5 Not: He Has Eyes For Other People
Sure, Derek didn’t actually know that Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh) is Meredith’s half-sister… but there’s still no excuse for him having a brief crush on her. He chats her up in the bar near the hospital, which makes Meredith dump him in the season four episode “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
If Meredith and Derek were really the perfect couple, it’s hard to believe that this would happen. He would literally have no interest in even looking at another girl. Derek makes things even worse by kissing someone else (Rose, a nurse played by Lauren Stamile).
4 Perfect: They Truly Seem So In Love
In the season five episode “Elevator Love Letter,” Derek asks Meredith to marry him, and it’s clear throughout any of their scenes together that they truly love each other.
This kind of love can survive so many things, and even though their relationship is never smooth sailing, it does seem perfect in many ways.
3 Not: He Accepts The Washington Job When She Doesn’t Want Him To
For many fans of Grey’s Anatomy, Derek becomes an insensitive jerk when he wants to work for the President in season eleven. This is a massive deal because he said that he would be there for their family and enable Meredith to focus on her career. He decides to go to Washington even though Meredith doesn’t want him to.
This is selfish and uncool, and it makes things feel even more complicated when Derek passes away in the episode “How to Save a Life.” While fans loved him, he wasn’t always the greatest husband.
2 Perfect: They Become A Family
On the other hand, it’s easy to see that Meredith and Derek are the perfect couple because they become a real family. They have three kids, Ellis, Zola, and Bailey (although, tragically, Derek never gets the chance to meet their third child since Meredith learns she’s pregnant after his death).
It’s pretty amazing that they can join their lives in this way considering how “dark and twisty” Meredith has always been. Even though it’s difficult for her to be vulnerable and open, she lets Derek in, and they’re able to be a true family who look out for each other and love each other.
1 Not: Cristina Points Out Mer Is The Sun
While fans will always ship Derek and Meredith, it’s difficult to truly be on board with their romance when thinking about something that Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) says. When Cristina says, “Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He’s very dreamy, but he’s not the sun. You are,” nothing could feel more right or true.
Cristina pointing out that Meredith is the sun is all the proof fans need to question Derek and Meredith’s relationship. If it was an equal partnership and healthy pairing, Cristina would never have said that. But she can tell that her best friend isn’t being treated the way that she should. In the end, while Derek and Meredith’s love story will always be a famous one, it does have some problems.