Plus, see behind-the-scenes photos from [spoiler's] return to set.

By Samantha Highfill
November 12, 2020 at 11:42 PM EST
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  • TV Show
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  • ABC
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Warning: This post contains spoilers about Thursday's season 17 premiere of Grey's Anatomy.

There are character returns and then there are CHARACTER RETURNS. And tonight, Grey's Anatomy pulled off a CHARACTER RETURN.

The two-hour season 17 premiere of Grey's Anatomy dealt heavily with the COVID-19 pandemic, and in its final moments, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) was discovered unconscious in the parking lot. That's when fans were treated to Meredith's dream, and much to the surprise of viewers, Derek was there! No, it wasn't old footage. Patrick Dempsey reprised his role, marking his return to the show after being killed off in season 11 (and he's returning next week)!

Credit: Krista Vernoff/ABC

"The most important task we had this season was to honor the reality of this global pandemic and the impact it’s having — particularly on healthcare workers," Grey's showrunner Krista Vernoff said in a statement. "Along with that, we had to come up with creative ways to allow our show to still be fun and romantic and provide some escapism. Enter Patrick Dempsey. The beach motif — which will continue beyond the premiere — provided a way for us to live outside the pandemic even for a little while here and there. And Derek’s return provided pure joy for us, for Meredith, and for the fans. Season 17 has been a Herculean effort by our cast, our crew, our writers, and our partners at Disney and ABC — and we are proud of it. But our effort is nothing compared to the work of our Frontline healthcare workers to whom this season is dedicated. We hope our show inspires you to wear your masks to protect them and each other. As Derek Shepherd would say, 'It’s a beautiful day to save lives.'"

Check out some photos of Dempsey's return below, along with a promo for next week's episode.

Credit: Krista Vernoff/ABC
Credit: Krista Vernoff/ABC
Credit: Krista Vernoff/ABC
Credit: Krista Vernoff/ABC
Credit: Krista Vernoff/ABC
Credit: Krista Vernoff/ABC

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  • TV Show
seasons
  • 17
rating
  • TV-14
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creator
  • Shonda Rhimes
network
  • ABC
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