Showrunner Krista Vernoff confirmed that viewers can expect to see Dempsey’s character, Derek Shepherd, in more episodes airing sometime next year. “You will see McDreamy again in the back half of the season,” the 46-year-old told Variety on Friday, December 18.
Although Vernoff verified Dempsey’s additional appearances, she remained coy when asked about whether other past Grey’s Anatomy stars would reprise their former parts. “We all have hopes,” she explained. “But we don’t have anything new to report yet.”
The Bridgit Jones’s Baby actor, 54, left Grey’s Anatomy in April 2015 after nearly 11 years. In his final episode, Dempsey’s character was killed off in a car accident. He then shocked fans last month when he reappeared on the series’ season 17 premiere.
During his surprise return, his character’s former wife, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), was found unconscious in a hospital parking lot toward the episode’s end. As the scene cut to her coronavirus dream, she was seen reuniting with Derek on the beach.
“I think the whole atmosphere has changed, certainly working at the beach, and seeing everybody again was really a very healing process, and really rewarding, and a lot of fun. Hopefully, that feeling translates, and the fans enjoy it,” Dempsey told Deadline in November. “I know that they’ve been wanting us to get back together, and I think this will satisfy a lot of people, and surprise a lot of people, hopefully.”
An insider revealed to Us Weekly exclusively that the “timing” for Dempsey’s return was right. Not only was the Enchanted actor “extremely professional, friendly [and] funny,” but the source noted that his “chemistry with Ellen was still there” after all those years.
“The crew enjoyed the time with Patrick, and there was a lot of catching up,” the insider continued. “Grey’s is a big family. Patrick may have left it for a bit, but, as families do, they come back together. It was extremely heartfelt and organic to watch it all.”
One year after exiting the long-running medical drama, the Can’t Buy Me Love star explained why he was ready to move on. “I think everybody was sort of surprised at how abrupt it was,” he said of his character’s death to Nightline in 2016. “[But] it was time for us both to be finished. … It’s hard to keep the creative energy going for 10 years.”
Grey’s Anatomy airs on ABC Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.