Patrick Dempsey is back on Grey's Anatomy.
That much we've known since the game-changing Grey's Anatomy Season 17 premiere that brought Derek Shepherd back to the series that killed him off five years earlier.
If you watch Grey's Anatomy online, you know he appeared in a dream sequence as Meredith was out cold in the hospital parking lot.
The actor chatted with Ellen DeGeneres this week about his return, Meredith's diagnosis, as well as touching on the reaction to his return.
"The impact, the response, has been incredibly overwhelming and very moving," Dempsey says.
"It was nice to be able to have it work out this way."
"There's so many souls that we have lost right now," he says of the nearly quarter of the people who have died from the virus.
"The thought of having angels around us is very comforting, certainly to me."
His return came after a reunion of sorts with Ellen Pompeo.
"We hadn't spoken in quite some time, so we were playing catchup and she goes, 'What do you think about coming back on to the show? Here's our idea of what we want to do for season 17,'" Dempsey recalls.
"I was like, 'What a great opportunity for people. How great it would be for the fans, really, to see everybody reunited in this sort of bizarre way.'"
The actor said that the writers and showrunner, Krista Vernoff, came up with the concept of Derek returning in Meredith's "COVID dream."
When the decision made, everyone associated with the surprise wanted to keep it a secret.
"Nobody knew about it other than... some people at ABC, Krista, and then Ellen and myself and that was it. And then we started talking to the directors, which would be Debbie Allen, who's amazing, and Kevin McKidd, who's one of the directors that I worked with," he said.
"That was it."
"No one knew until I showed up on set that day," Dempsey continues.
"We were really concerned that somebody would take a picture and it would get out somehow, but we managed to keep it a secret, which was pretty phenomenal."
Grey's Anatomy showrunner previously said that Dempsey will appear three more times, but the actor said that he will appear "throughout the season," suggesting that his three episodes will be spread across the season.
What are your thoughts on the latest news?
Do you think Dempsey hinted that Mer has COVID-19?
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Catch Grey's Anatomy Thursdays at 9/8c.
Paul Dailly was an Associate Editor for TV Fanatic.Follow him on X.