Why the return of this Gray’s anatomy was the very last thing we anticipated and precisely what we would have liked

Seventeen seasons in and Grey’s Anatomy still surprises us.

At the end of an action-packed two-hour premiere on Thursday, the long-running medical drama achieved its biggest surprise return ever Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd. He’s still dead and only exists on Meredith Beach (Ellen Pompeo) dreams about it after collapsing in a parking lot, but for the first time in five years he’s really really there.

He was almost the last person we expected to see back at Grey’s, partly because we haven’t thought of him in a while and partly because actors don’t show up after leaving Grey’s Anatomy, no matter how strong a connection they are left behind their character or how mutual their exit was. Sandra Oh, Assemble Heigl, TR Knight, Sarah Drew, Jessica Capshaw, Sara Ramirez, Chyler Leigh, Eric Dane– Everyone made great impressions on the show and never looked back.

Just Isaiah Washington ever returned after his big departure and that was just to give Cristina (Oh) her big farewell. If you had asked us to sort the deceased documents by the likelihood that they would ever return, only Heigl would have been behind Dempsey.

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