Fans of Grey’s Anatomy were treated to an epic surprise during last night’s season 17 premiere. Warning: Spoilers ahead. At the end of the two-hour long episode, McDreamy — I mean — Patrick Dempsey, returned on-screen as Derek Shepherd. No, Dr. Shepherd did not come back from the dead (having met his maker in season 11 after suffering a tragic car accident). Instead, his appearance was part of a dream sequence after Meredith collapsed in the parking lot of Grey Sloan Memorial.
Dempsey’s surprise return was prompted by none other than series star Ellen Pompeo, who reached out to her on-screen late husband to be part of Grey’s newest season. Of their reunion, Pompeo told Deadline that she and Dempsey share innate chemistry that feels as though they’ve known each other “for a hundred years.”
Derek Shepherd hasn’t made a new appearance on Grey’s Anatomy since that dreaded April 2015 episode. So how did the magical idea to bring back McDreamy come about? Well, as the doctors of Grey Sloan work on the frontlines of COVID-19 this season, showrunner Krista Vernoff figured fans needed a bit of joy to a heavy storyline.
“I had this imagining of a beach motif throughout the season, and I called Ellen, and I said, what if we bring back, I don’t know, some dead character that you could dream of on the beach, that would be so fun for the fans,” Vernoff told the publication.
“And she said, let’s get Patrick. Even in my most excitable dream life, that thought hadn’t occurred to me as an option, and there it was.”
During the interview with Deadline, Pompeo reflected on a hike she and her former co-star took around Malibu with a view of the beach (reminding her of her conversation with Vernoff), and the idea struck her.
“I just said to him, would you ever consider coming and being a part of the storytelling this season?” Pompeo said, “There’s just so much darkness, and we knew that coming together would be a little ray of light. And so, I think we had the same idea, at the core, to want to help people and bring a smile to people’s faces. So, he loved the idea, and we were just so excited, and we had a ball filming it.”
When asked by Deadline about what it was like seeing each other on set after so long, Pompeo had this to say: “It felt great. Patrick and I have this chemistry, where I think, even from when we first met, for some reason, it just felt like we’ve known each other for a hundred years, and it’s just the same feeling. It’s like riding a bike, we just have a chemistry and a dynamic that’s always served us well, and I think we have a genuine affection for each other.”
We were so happy to see our favorite TV couple back on our screens — even if it was just a dream. And we can’t wait to see what else Grey’s newest season has in store for us — Team MerDer forever!!
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