McDreamy Has Returned to ‘Grey’s Anatomy’—Well, Sort Of

"Even in my most excitable dream life, that thought hadn’t occurred to me as an option, and there it was," showrunner Krista Vernoff said.

SPOILER ALERT: This story includes details about the November 12th Season 17 premiere of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.

Last night, November 12th, Grey’s Anatomy fans got the shock of their life when Patrick Dempsey’s Derek Shepherd (better known as “McDreamy”) returned to the show. His return is…complicated, to say the least. McDreamy was tragically killed off the show in 2015, leaving star Meredith Grey (played by Ellen Pompeo) widowed and heartbroken. But last night, McDreamy returned to her in a dream sequence/hallucination and send Grey’s fans into a tailspin.

The iconic pair reunited on a white-sand beach after Meredith collapsed in the parking lot of Grey Sloan Memorial. I miss you, Meredith shouts across the beach, to which Derek responds, I know.

The two-hour Season 17 premiere of the show was dedicated to the frontline healthcare workers fighting the very real coronavirus pandemic. In the episode, Meredith tries her best to deal with the onslaught of COVID-19 cases and deaths, the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Grey Sloan Memorial, and her own mental and physical health struggle.

It’s unclear whether or not Meredith is going to make it after her medical emergency, and showrunner Krista Vernoff isn’t about to give anything away, noting to Deadline that the only thing we’re meant to know is that she’s dreaming of a place where she can be with Derek.

“From a writer’s perspective, [Derek’s return] 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,” Vernoff told Deadline. “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.”

It was actually Pompeo’s idea to bring Dempsey back on the show, Vernoff said. Even in my most excitable dream life, that thought hadn’t occurred to me as an option, and there it was, she continued.

And fans may be in for more Dempsey later this season. “It’s more than the one scene you saw,” Vernoff confirmed, and Dempsey added that he’s willing to keep coming back to continue the storyline.

So, the impossible became possible and McDreamy is back (kind of—his return is good enough for us, anyway).

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