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‘Grey’s Anatomy’ just brought back a beloved character. What does it mean for the show?

This article contains spoilers for the season 17 premiere of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” concludes the season with a two-hour shocker. ABC announced Friday, May 10, 2019, that “Grey’s Anatomy” has been renewed for two more seasons. The show is currently in its 15th season, which means it will see a 16th and 17th season, Deadline reports.
The season 17 premiere of “Grey’s Anatomy” aired on Thursday and brought back a fan-favorite character.
ABC

McDreamy is back — or is he?

The season premiere of “Grey’s Anatomy” on Thursday left fans with plenty of questions when the episode ended with the return of a deceased character: Patrick Dempsey’s Derek Shepherd, according to CNN.

Thursday’s episode, which also took on the COVID-19 pandemic, ended with Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey reuniting with Dempsey’s character — who died in 2015 — on a beach, Fox News reported.

“It was so fun because we know that people are gonna freak out,” Pompeo said during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s show Thursday night, according to the “Today” show. “And we all know 2020 has been a really long, ugly road, and we were so happy just to be able to film these scenes and know how much joy it was gonna bring people.”

Derek will appear in next week’s episode as well, but it’s still unclear what his return means, according to CNN. Whether the experience is a dream sequence, a hallucination, or something else remains to be seen.

But the character’s return was a surprise to fans, and “Grey’s Anatomy” showrunner Krista Vernoff revealed on Twitter that she worked to keep the moment secret by not allowing anyone on set to take pictures while filming.

“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,” Vernoff said in a statement, according to Variety. “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.”

Many “Grey’s Anatomy” fans shared their excitement on social media, with some claiming the moment had “saved 2020.”