Talk about a (Mc)dreamy surprise!
Grey's Anatomy fans were shocked after Patrick Dempsey reprised his role as Derek Shepherd at the end of the season 17 premiere on Nov. 12. In the last 30 seconds of the episode, Dr. McDreamy reunited with Ellen Pompeo's Meredith Grey on a beach as part of a dream-like sequence—making it the first time Dempsey has returned to the show since his character's death in 2015.
The sequence took place after Dr. Grey was found collapsed in the parking lot at Grey Sloan Memorial. Earlier in the episode, viewers watched the hospital's doctors and nurses deal with several challenges amid the global coronavirus pandemic, including coping with the number of COVID-19 deaths and not having enough PPE.
"From a writer's perspective, it happened because it was my job to find a way—once we determined that we were doing the pandemic—to also bring joy, and escape, and fan candy, and all the things that at Grey's Anatomy we give people," she said about his appearance. "We give them romance, and we give them humor, and we give them joy, and a lot of that is lacking for the medical community in this pandemic. And so, I was walking on the beach one day, and I was like, what if there's a Meredith dream motif?"
Vernoff said she then called Pompeo and asked for her thoughts on bringing a late character back on the show. In fact, she credited the 51-year-old actress with suggesting Dempsey.
This won't be the last time fans see Dempsey, either. The 54-year-old actor is scheduled to appear on next week's episode, as well.
Can't wait until then? Take a trip down memory lane and look back at more of Grey's Anatomy's most shocking moments of all time.