Grey’s Anatomy delighted and surprised fans with its season 17 premiere. Most notable was the return of the long-deceased Derek Shepherd, in a move almost no one saw coming. But not everyone was happy about this plot twist. Discover why some Grey’s fans have mixed feelings about the character’s appearance.
Patrick Dempsey starred in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ for 11 seasons
Actor Patrick Dempsey portrays Derek, a neurosurgeon, in Grey’s Anatomy. He meets Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) at a bar in the pilot, and the two have a one-night stand. The next day, she arrives for her internship at the same hospital where he works. This arrangement is further complicated when his wife shows up.
Derek and Meredith’s on-again, off-again relationship (which led to marriage and kids) was far from Dempsey’s only role in the series. His character was shot by a disgruntled gunman, survived a plane crash, and was even offered a job working at the White House, which he took despite Meredith’s feelings on the matter.
Derek Shepherd died following an accident
Throughout Grey’s Anatomy’s 16 seasons, many characters have come and gone. While some leave for other jobs, that could never be the case with Derek, who was tied to the show as long as he was with Meredith. In Season 11, Derek is on his way to resign from his job in Washington when he’s hit by a truck.
The episode shows another hospital’s failings, as decisions are made that ultimately cost Derek his life. Meredith arrives to see as he’s on life support. She says her goodbyes, allows the nurse to unplug the machine, and Derek dies without fanfare. Dempsey has said little about why he chose to leave the show.
He returned in the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 17 premiere
Derek received a proper sendoff from Grey’s Anatomy. And in the years since Dempsey’s character’s death, the show has allowed Meredith to move on, entering into a romance with Andrew DeLuca. In a move that shocked fans, Derek reappeared in the season 17 premiere — in what appears to be a dream sequence.
“Thank you all for watching with us last night and showing up!! What did you think??” tweeted Pompeo to viewers after the premiere. “I think if Denny Duquette’s ghost can stick around for half a season, Derek should be there the rest of the way,” replied one, comparing Derek’s appearance to a season 5 storyline.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ fans recognized a downside to his cameo
Though he’s in the trailer for the November 19 episode “My Happy Ending,” Dempsey likely won’t receive much more screentime (especially given that title). While the focus for many is Meredith’s health and (hopeful) recovery from whatever is ailing her, some recognized another problem.
“I just realized we’re going to have to say goodbye to Derek Shepherd again and Meredith has to say goodbye to Derek again,” wrote one Twitter user. It took Meredith years to come to terms with Derek’s death. Will this be a happier farewell with closure, or will it break the viewers’ hearts all over again?