Long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy returned with a bang as it resurrected an old favourite.
The show is back with its 17th season after its previous run was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
Fans were left stunned at the end of the two-hour season premiere when Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith was found unconscious in a car park, apparently seriously unwell.
The show delivered another bombshell moments later with the return of Patrick Dempsey, who reprised his role as Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd.
Derek was Meredith’s husband but died abruptly on Grey’s Anatomy in 2015. He appeared in a dream-like sequence at the end of the latest episode, reuniting with his former wife on a beach.
Derek called Meredith’s name before the episode finished.
Grey’s Anatomy executive producer Krista Vernoff said show writers wanted to provide some escapism for fans following a tough year.
She said: “The most important task we had this season was to honour the reality of this global pandemic and the impact it’s having – particularly on healthcare workers.
“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. Derek’s return provided pure joy for us, for Meredith, and for the fans.”
Vernoff said producing season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy had been a “Herculean effort”, but added it was “nothing compared” to the sacrifice of frontline medical staff throughout the pandemic.
Grey’s Anatomy airs on Sky Witness in the UK. No UK date for season 17 has been announced.