I have so much love for Boyd and Erica, anon. One of the most infuriating decisions the show ever made, in my opinion, was killing off Boyd, because there was just… there was so much potential for this character to grow and do amazing things. (I miss Erica as well, but her death is less upsetting to me because Gage asked to leave, whereas killing Boyd just feels like… seriously? Without Erica around, there was no point to Boyd’s character? Or did the show just find it necessary for Derek to be completely alone when Scott was upgraded to Alpha? *sigh*)
There was so much they could have done with him, and I always imagine Boyd growing to the role of Derek’s second in command, his advisor and general sounding board… his best friend, honestly. I can just picture them hanging out together, understanding each other’s need for quiet companionship, Boyd tossing out a few choice words when Derek starts letting his tendency toward broody angst take hold…
But ok, but I’m drifting off topic. This is what happens when I try to meta after ten hours at work. ;P I think Derek would have grown to be an amazing Alpha, honestly. He had a steep learning curve in canon, with no role models, no one to offer advice, dual threats of hunters and kanima threatening his fledgling pack and the town at large, and Scott (with the best but, imo, very misguided intentions) trying to undermine him at every turn. It was inevitable that he would screw up here and there, but I also saw shades of an amazing guide and leader, and I think with more time to get solid footing, Derek would have become far and away the best Alpha we’ve seen on the show. To be totally honest, that’s more or less what I picture Derek doing now: forming a new Hale pack (along with a revived Boyd and Erica eventually) and learning how to protect a new territory.
If Boyd and Erica had never died at all, I don’t think that would have necessarily affected Derek having to give up his powers. He gave them up to save Cora who had been cursed by Jennifer, which would have most likely happened whether Derek’s betas were still around or not. Cora would have still been dying, and Derek would have still been compelled to give up his power and status for her. However, if Boyd hadn’t been killed on Derek’s claws (and Erica, earlier in the vault) Derek wouldn’t have felt compelled to scare Isaac away for his own safety. Since Boyd chose to stay with Derek after Derek rescued him from the vault, I can only assume Erica would have as well had she survived (Derek had proven himself a “worthy Alpha” at that point, and Boyd and Erica had been exposed to how much worse is waiting out there, which probably would have made them seriously rethink running off and trying to find new packs or survive on their own.) That in mind, I don’t think his betas would have defected just because he lost his status –– especially when he’d lost it to save a loved one’s life. So what would have essentially happened, then, would be a complete reversal of Derek and Scott’s roles from season two: Derek being the unconventional beta with a pack, and Scott being the new Alpha learning to control his power, looking to form a pack of his own. In my opinion that would have been a much more interesting arc, if the True Alpha arc needed to happen at all (which I have thoughts about, guys.)
And Derek still having a pack would probably mean he wouldn’t have left with Cora at the end of the season –– and Cora might well have stayed with him (ignoring actor obligations) –– because Derek only told her to stay away to keep her safe, and Derek would have felt much more secure with an entire pack of loyal betas behind him. That would also have meant Derek would have been around for the onset of the Nogitsune arc and, as Derek was shown to be able to sense what was going on with Stiles more than the other characters (chemosignals) that might have significantly altered the Nogitsune arc as well.