The Greatest Betrayal In Grey’s Anatomy: Did Derek Cheat On Meredith?

People get divorced. People part ways. Tragic events take people away far too soon. At some point in our lives, that’s something all of us will go through. Grey’s Anatomy manages to capture this fact. There is a sense of realism in the romance this show delivers, which brings it closers to the audience. 

The web of relationships in Grey’s Anatomy is complicated. The ABC’s hit unfolds all the dark sides of love, from holding a candle for someone who’s out of reach to betrayals and misunderstandings. The longer it goes on, the more fans lose hope in seeing their favorite couples get a happy ending, or at least encounter hardships and come out of them intact. 

Throughout many seasons, Meredith Grey and Derek Shepard were considered the only exception. They managed to prevail and survive many bumps in the road. MerDer lovers were certain that they would grow old together… until they weren’t anymore. Season 10 and 11 marked a turning point for our “it” couple, a point that might change their long-term bond forever.

You know what I’m talking about. How did Derek cheat on Meredith

A Look Back At Derek And Meredith’s Romance 

To describe the relationship between Derek and Meredith, the best way would be “a roller coaster ride”. 

It all started when Meredith had a one-night stand with a complete stranger. At that time, she had no idea this stranger would be the love of her life. Only when they locked eyes again in the morning did she realize this guy, namely Derek Sheperd, was her destiny.

Soon enough, Meredith discovered that the guy she slept with was none other than her boss. To be precise, he was her boss’ boss. It didn’t stop them from madly falling for each other until reality kicked in: Derek’s marriage with Addison was hanging in the air. 

Gone was their happy time together, and Derek was forced to choose between two women. 

I’ve got to say, Meredith was hard to like back then. Her endless whining made her no one’s favorite, not even Derek’s. As he didn’t choose her, the couple drifted apart. We had to put up with lots of depressing McDreamy before MerDer got back together through Seattle Grace’s prom night sex scene. That night, Derek knew that he couldn’t live without Meredith, thus he ultimately cut ties with Addison. The two moved ahead with their relationship, got married in two episodes, and lived happily ever after. 

Just kidding. 

True, Addison and Derek were over, but Meredith’s commitment phobia started to rear its head. Now, it was Derek’s turn to plead. The couple played hide and seek for another 2 seasons when Meredith used her relationships with her persons – mainly Cristina Yang – to evade the issue. She didn’t want to pick Derek just yet. Even the longest-standing MerDer fan got emotionally exhausted at this point – I mean, get together or don’t! 

At the end of season 5, Derek’s persistent chasing paid off: They finally got married. Phew! After saving Izzie with Meredith’s help, Derek proposed to her. Their marriage came true! Although MerDer’s lengthy drama was considered sloppy and poorly plotted by many viewers, it made their wedding at the end of season 5 more satisfying.  

We thought we were in the clear until Derek had to move away from his family for a new job opportunity. Of course, Meredith refused to move with him. She refused to sacrifice her career for his. Once again, the couple was divided. What happened during their separation led to the question: Did Derek cheat on Meredith?

So, Did Derek Cheat On Meredith? 

As Derek left for DC, Meredith feared the worst. Well, she had a reason to: We met Derek’s research fellow, Renee, a young and hot lady with great hair and, coincidentally, great eyes. There seemed to be an instant spark between her and Derek when they first met, but it might simply be speculative hindsight on our part. 

When Derek witnessed Renee smashing a coffee mug in frustration, he learned she had spent a year working on a research project with no result. After hearing Renee’s story, he said that her feeling of wasting time probably signified she was on the verge of something big. “Keep going. You’re right at the line. You’re going to cross it. Don’t stop,” said Mr. McDreamy. Following was an awkward moment when Renee glanced at him with nothing but lust. 

Excellent word choice, Derek. Very well done.

Cut to another scene in Washington D.C., Derek woke Renee up in the middle of the night, claiming he was “thinking about her research”. He pulled her out of bed and to the lab (not physically, though). They finally reached a breakthrough, and an excited Renee told Derek, “I could kiss you!”. Derek half-heartedly claimed he had to leave, but he didn’t, and they locked lips. That was all it took to make fans’ stomachs turn.  

So, Did Derek Cheat On Meredith?

Derek cheats on Meredith – Source: BuzzFeed

So, did Derek cheat on Meredith? At that moment, yes, he did. On the bright side, that kiss opened Derek’s eyes and drove away all the confusion he might have regarding him and Mer. He quickly broke off the kiss and left the lab. “I love my wife. I’m married,” that was all he told Renee before fleeing the scene, “I don’t want anything other than what I have with her.”

Where did he go? He flew back to Settle, where he settled things down with Meredith and cleared her doubt. The two had a sweet vow renewal of sorts, with Derek admitting he assumed D.C. was everything he ever wanted, but Meredith was in fact the world to him, and he didn’t want to live without her. Meredith claimed that she could but did not want to live without Derek. 

What a happy ending. Still, Derek did not say a word about his kiss with Renee. As much as we admired MerDer, this never went down well with fans. 

Other Betrayals In Grey’s Anatomy 

Okay, MerDer worshippers, I know you are not happy. No one is. If you look at other couples, though, you might appreciate their reunion in season 11 a bit more. Derek is not the only cheater in Grey’s Anatomy. Other surgeons also crossed the line in the name of “love”, and infidelities, in most cases, ruined their relationships into pieces. 

Oh and, if you remember all of these couples, maybe it’s time to challenge your friends with the Grey’s Anatomy drinking game.

Owen Hunt Cheated On Cristina Yang 

Other Betrayals In Grey's Anatomy

Who did Owen cheat on Cristina with? – Source: Vanity Fair

I have to place Owen’s betrayal on top because this was purely mind-blowing. They made one of the strongest pairs in the movie next to Meredith and Derek. Owen declared his love for Cristina more than once, and we could see that he truly meant it: He choose Cristina over Teddy despite having a crush on the latter for a long time. 

But when Cristina made it clear that she didn’t want babies, Owen had the worst choice: He tried to hurt her by cheating. He hooked up with a patient’s friend, and his unfaithfulness put an end to their relationship. Their long and traumatizing conversation regarding Owen’s indiscretion was purely mournful. It was even more disheartening for their fans when Cristina left for Zurich, and Owen didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

Owen Hunt Cheated On Emma Marling 

After breaking up with Cristina, Owen harbored feelings for Emma Marling, the Head of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Their relationship sailed smoothly, and just when fans were ready to forgive Owen and wish them happiness, he did it again. This time, Owen cheated on Emma by having a one-night stand with Cristina. 

Owen Hunt Cheated On Emma Marling

Like, what the heck Owen? – Source: Nextplz

From the viewers’ point of view, this didn’t make any sense. Cristina and Owen had already decided to end it all since their desires were completely different. No one could see why the series’ scriptwriters revisited this plotline. To make it more frustrating, things were fine between Owen and Emma before he cheated on her. As some Redditors speculated, they only tried to get rid of Marguerite Moreau’s role as soon as possible. 

Alex Karev Cheated On Izzie Stevens 

Alex Karev Cheated On Izzie Stevens - Did Derek Cheat On Meredith?

Alex and Izzie – Source: Us Weekly

From the first season of Grey’s Anatomy, we all knew that Alex Karev was an arrogant and self-centered jerk who disgustingly lacked social etiquette. Therefore, when he cheated on Izzie Stevens with the nurse Olivia, the audience wasn’t surprised at all. 

The reason was that Alex felt pressured about the relationship with Izzie. Well, just because we saw that coming doesn’t mean we could forgive. Even though Izzie and Alex were not yet a couple, something nice was growing between them. It was Izzie who saw through Alex’s vulnerable side and convinced everyone to give him a second chance. Considering all of this, Alex’s flirting with other women while giving her hope was unacceptable. 

Nathan Riggs Cheated On Megan Hunt 

We only saw Nathan Riggs briefly at Grey Sloan Memorial. He was introduced as an ex-comrade of Owen Hunt at the military, and the fiancé of Owen’s sibling, Megan. 

Both Megan and Nathan cheated on each other, but Megan’s side of the story was never revealed. On the other hand, Nathan was repeatedly chastised by Owen for cheating on his sister. He even gave Megan a necklace that belonged to the woman he had an affair with. Although he did move heaven and earth for Megan after she was found alive, his infidelity could never be erased.

Nathan Riggs Cheated On Megan Hunt - Did Derek Cheat On Meredith?

C’mon Owen, like you’ve never cheated! – Source: Showbiz Cheat Sheet

Addison Montgomery Cheated On Derek Shepherd

Kate Walsh joined the cast of Grey’s Anatomy as Derek’s ex-wife, adding some spices to the drama. She completed the love triangle that Meredith and Derek found themselves in. Initially, Addison was only meant to be the thorn in Meredith’s flesh. However, Walsh’s outstanding performance made her a fan favorite, and the audience couldn’t get enough of her. 

Addison and Derek being iconic exes

Prior to the series’ timeline, Addison cheated on Derek with his best buddy, Mark Sloan. Afterward, she came running back to Seattle to make amends with Derek. What she didn’t expect was Meredith’s appearance, and their marriage was over before she had a chance to fix things.

Of course, had Addison never cheated, the whole plot between Meredith and Derek would never happen. Putting that aside, though, it was pretty low of her to sleep with her husband’s closest friend. 

Ellis Grey Cheated On Thatcher Grey

Ellis Grey Cheated On Thatcher Grey - Did Derek Cheat On Meredith?

Ellis Grey and Thatcher Grey – Did Derek Cheat On Meredith? Source: Screenrant

An important case of infidelity took place before the main event had started, but it continued to have a significant impact throughout the series. Ellis, Meredith’s mother, had a long-running affair with Richard Webber, despite being married to Thatcher Grey.

Ellis and Richard loved each other deeply, but their relationship ruined Meredith’s childhood and the bond with her biological father, Thatcher. To make things worse, Maggie Pierce was revealed to be Ellis and Richard’s daughter. Although the revelation shocked everyone, it was nice to know that Meredith had more siblings. 

In A Nutshell: Did Derek Cheat On Meredith?

Just like Redditor ‘missbludger’ wrote, there is an unspoken rule: A relationship in Grey’s Anatomy wouldn’t be complete without cheating and misunderstanding. Even the main couple couldn’t escape this. Derek cheated, or at least, was on the verge of cheating – that’s undeniable. 

At this point, you now know that Grey’s is not for the faint of heart. If you still want to keep the beautiful image of your favorite love birds, it is best to stop watching the series for the rest of your life. But, somehow, no matter how many couples they wrecked, I’m always back for more. See you Thursday, Grey’s Anatomy, no matter how much you hurt me!

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Iris Vida

Well, Iris Vida is very into reading books from different eras, cultures, and anything that has been going viral lately, etc. Her passions can't be put in a few words only. Whether it's the "Jazz Age," a Neil Gaiman notable novel, the pitter-patter melodies of Taylor Swift's music, or anything else, she always sends the best materials to her top-notch writings, engaging all readers everywhere. Moreover, like Nick Carraway, who captured global attention with his rich and glamorous look, she leaves readers with a satisfying sense of wonder and an urge to learn more with her compelling writing style.