The last few minutes of the two-hour premiere of Grey’s Anatomy season 17 dropped a big bomb in the form of Patrick Dempsey’s return. Patrick’s Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd had been killed off in season 11 and to see him on the show again was an emotional experience for many.
In the premiere, Derek appeared in Meredith’s dream after she collapsed in the parking lot of Grey Sloan. Their reunion, the entire beach sequence and the serenity of that moment hit right in the feels. Fans had been eagerly waiting for Patrick Dempsey’s return but never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined such a storyline.
The episode left fans with one burning question – will they get to see more of Patrick Dempsey in season 17? Well, it seems like they will. Even though it’s not known how many episodes he’ll be in, the makers of Grey’s Anatomy are far from done with Dempsey and his character.
“I’m not sure how many. I know throughout the season he comes back to visit,” the actor said during his appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Meanwhile, showrunner Krista Vernoff was kind enough to give an exact number. “We will see more of [Derek] this season. This was not just a cameo. He will appear three more times,” she told Los Angeles Times. Well, this just made season 17 even more exciting!
How did the show makers keep Patrick Dempsey’s return a secret?
A lot of planning went into keep this massive news under the wraps. “We didn’t tell the writers for the longest time,” Vernoff told LA Times.
“When she’s walking and she [Meredith] looks as someone is calling to her, and she goes, “Derek?” In the script, I had it as Ellis Grey. And she goes, “Mom?” We read it at the table that way. Nobody knew what we were doing — to the point that when the crew showed up on the day we shot the scene, nobody knew. It was top secret.”
“It was so moving and healing,” she said, adding that it felt like “homecoming”. “We just really, really wanted the fans to have this moment of total shock.”
Patrick Dempsey also corroborated the story on Ellen’s show. “No one knew until I showed up on set that day. And then we were really concerned that someone would take a picture and it would be out somehow, but we managed to keep it a secret, which was pretty phenomenal.”
The actor further added how he’s overwhelmed by fans’ reactions and praises for his return. At this moment, Ellen perfectly summed up the audience’s mood as she said to Dempsey “you made everyone cry five years ago when you died. And then you made everyone cry again when you returned.”