Grey’s Anatomy Cast Members Who Have Returned To Grey-Sloan

**This article contains spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy**

Grey’s Anatomy premiered its pilot episode on March 27, 2005, and has aired 17 seasons and over 350 episodes, as of this writing. It’s basically a cultural phenomenon, but no TV show can last as long as it has without drama brewing for the cast even after the director yells cut. So, plenty of actors have hung up their scrubs and left the halls of Grey-Sloan Memorial behind. Departures of our favorite characters are sad, but on fictional TV, the bright side of goodbye is that not even death is final.

The cast of Grey’s Anatomy has welcomed back some of the most beloved characters to whom fans thought they’d said goodbye for good. Whether it’s for a guest spot or a longer stay as a series regular, time has proven that there is always a chance we’ll see our favorite doctors roaming the halls of our favorite hospital — or the depths of Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) mind — again. So, it’s about time we reminisce about all of the Grey’s Anatomy cast members who have returned to Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital.

A hero returns on Grey's Anatomy

T.R. Knight’s character, George O’Malley, dies a hero, stepping in front of a bus to save a stranger in the Grey’s Anatomy Season 5 finale. His thoughts as an actor leaving the series, however, weren’t so epic. Knight told Entertainment Weekly that he left the show because of creative differences. “My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given [about George],” he said.

But Knight put those differences aside so that George could reunite with Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) on a beach while she’s in a COVID-induced unconscious state in Season 17. After conversations with showrunner Krista Vernoff and Pompeo, Knight said he was also inspired to return to Grey’s Anatomy by his husband. “We were talking about that idea of closure and he was saying that sometimes closure’s shutting a door, and sometimes it’s revisiting a familiar room, and finding what brought you joy,” Knight told Deadline. “And it just hit me.”

Knight’s return episode is titled “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and one of the scenes he filmed included Pompeo, Chandra Wilson, and James Pickens Jr., the three actors left who have been part of Grey’s Anatomy since the beginning. Knight said that to have those colleagues and some of the original crew on his shoot all day was “just unlike any other experience I’ve ever had in my entire life, in my 47 years.”

Meredith and Derek also had a COVID-induced reunion

Patrick Dempsey left Grey’s Anatomy after playing Meredith Grey’s (Ellen Pompeo) husband, Dr. Derek Shepherd, for 11 seasons. Like George O’Malley, Dr. Shepherd exits a hero after he dies from complications from a car accident after saving a mother and daughter … who were in an accident. And like T.R. Knight, behind the scenes Dempsey’s departure from Grey’s was reportedly not as valiant.

Before the news officially broke, Page Six reported Dempsey was allegedly a “diva” on set. “[Shonda Rhimes] suspended him for a while, and the word on set is that he isn’t coming back full time,” a source dished. Dempsey hedged, telling Entertainment Weekly that his work hours were impacting his family life. “You never know your schedule, so your kid asks you, ‘What are you doing
 on Monday?’ and you go, ‘I don’t know,’ because I don’t know my schedule. Doing that for 11 years is challenging…”

The Knight/O’Malley similarities continued when Derek also returned as part of Meredith’s COVID-induced dreams. Krista Vernoff has been Grey’s Anatomy‘s showrunner since Season 14 and told Deadline that the idea to bring characters back in Season 17 is about bringing “joy” to fans. Dempsey agreed to come back to bring people “comfort.” “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,” Dempsey said of being back. He’s appeared on multiple episodes of Season 17.

Remember when Izzie had sex with a ghost?

Jeffrey Dean Morgan first appeared on Grey’s Anatomy when he played a patient named Denny Duquette, who falls in love with his doctor, Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl). We know this is unethical IRL, but thank goodness we’re talking about fiction because Heigl and Morgan had undeniable chemistry. But Denny has a bad heart, and even though Izzie takes extreme and morally questionable steps to try and save his life — he dies in the Season 2 finale.

Morgan told the Los Angeles Times in 2006 that he “pleaded” with [showrunner Shonda Rhimes], “Please, please, just let me live,” but none of his begging worked. He called the day he shot Denny’s death scene “A dark, grim day. I’m still not over it. It broke my heart to leave that show.” He did, however, credit Rhimes and Grey’s Anatomy with giving him the notoriety as an actor to choose “the kind of projects [he wants] to do.”

Ghosts visit the living easily enough on TV, so Morgan and Denny have reappeared on our screens several times over the years. On Grey’s Anatomy Season 3, Denny is one of a few patients who visit Meredith’s unconscious thoughts while she fights to survive after drowning. Denny’s ghost also appears in several episodes in Season 5 to try and warn his former fiancée Izzie that she has cancer. This is when we learned that ghost sex only works well on supernatural shows.

The Grey sisters reunite on the beach

Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) has a severe case of COVID-19 in Season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy. Showrunner Krista Vernoff is balancing all of that pain with as many joyful beach reunions as possible while Meredith is unconscious. Chyler Leigh, who played Meredith’s half-sister, Lexie Grey, returns on the April 1, 2021 episode called “Breathe,” Deadline reported. Leigh has stayed mum about the news on her social media accounts, as of this writing.

Leigh originally left Grey’s Anatomy in the Season 8 finale when Lexie is killed in a plane crash. Eric Dane’s character, Mark Sloan, confesses his love to Lexie right before she takes her final breath. It’s one of the most tragic events Grey’s Anatomy fans have ever suffered through. But the decision to leave was Leigh’s. “Earlier this year, I made the decision that Season eight would be my last on Grey’s Anatomy,” she said in a statement to TV Line. “I met with Shonda and we worked together to give Lexie’s story appropriate closure. I am very lucky to have worked with this amazing cast and crew for five seasons. My experience on Grey’s Anatomy is something that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”

April Kepner will return to Grey's Anatomy — at Jackson Avery's side

April Kepner (Sarah Drew) first joins the staff of Seattle Grace Hospital when it merges with the fictional Mercy West hospital in Season 6 of Grey’s Anatomy. April quickly became a beloved fan favorite, especially after she elopes with fellow Mercy West transplant Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams). The couple goes through many hardships together, but despite their popularity, they never find their way back to each other after a divorce.

In March 2018, Deadline reported that Drew and co-star Jessica Capshaw were exiting Grey’s Anatomy for creative reasons. Drew expressed her sadness about leaving to fans on Instagram. “Thank you for all of the love. I know you’re sad. I’m sad too,” she wrote, in part. Luckily for fans, Drew (via April) is gearing up for a return, Deadline reported in March 2021, about three years after her departure announcement. We’re unsure about the nature of her return, but April doesn’t die in her final episode, so she probably won’t be in Meredith’s beachy, limbo-state dreams. But, Drew and Williams have filmed scenes together. They’re all smiles in a video filmed on set, which they posted to their individual Instagram accounts. The air date and title of Drew’s return episode is not confirmed, as of this writing.

Teddy is the only series regular to leave and return to Grey's Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy has seen the return of many former cast members as guest stars over the years. So far, the only person to return to her role as a series regular is Kim Raver, who joined the cast in Season 6 as cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Teddy Altman. She gets involved in a love triangle with Dr. Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) whom she served with in the army, and her mentee, Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh). Teddy moves on to a new job after the Season 8 finale. She needs a new start after her husband, Henry (Scott Foley) dies. Plus, she’s likely sick of pining over Owen.

In Season 14 of the show, Owen visits Teddy in Germany and by the season finale, she tells him she’s pregnant with his daughter. It was announced Raver would return as a series regular ahead of Season 15, of which she said she was “thrilled” in a statement (via Deadline). “I have a special place in my heart for Teddy and feel very lucky to have the opportunity to continue her story.” Teddy and Owen are not currently in a relationship, but anything is possible until the series finale on Grey’s Anatomy.

Preston Burke's exit and return to Grey's Anatomy caused a stir

Isiah Washington had one of the most contentious Grey’s Anatomy exit stories, making his return that much more shocking. To refresh your memory, Washington, who played Dr. Cristina Yang’s (Sandra Oh) love interest, Dr. Preston Burke, was fired from the show after the Season 3 finale for using a homophobic slur in reference to co-star T.R. Knight, The New York Times reported. “I’m saddened by the outcome. I did everything that the producers and the network asked me to do [to apologize]. I came back under great duress and stress, and thought I was doing the job I was hired to do,” Washington told Entertainment Weekly.

Seven years later, Washington reprised the role of Preston to entice Cristina to take a job in Switzerland, as part of the writers’ way of accommodating Oh’s decision to leave Grey’s Anatomy in Season 10. Because of the controversy surrounding his firing, Shonda Rhimes released a statement about his return. “It’s important to me that Cristina’s journey unfolds exactly as it should,” she said (via The Hollywood Reporter). “Burke is vital to that journey — he gives her story that full-circle moment we need to properly say goodbye to our beloved Cristina Yang.”

Amelia Shepherd did not always work at Grey-Sloan

It’s hard to imagine a time when Caterina Scorsone didn’t roam the halls of Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital as renowned neurosurgeon Amelia Shepherd, younger sister of Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). But first met her on the Private Practice episode “Eyes Wide Open,” which aired on April 1, 2010. That October she appeared on a Grey’s Anatomy episode called “Superfreak.” Amelia went back to California after one episode and Scorsone became a regular on Private Practice.

Scorsone recurred as Amelia in Season 10 of Grey’s Anatomy and joined the cast as a series regular in Season 11. Amelia has been through a lot in Seattle, putting aside that she’s a recovering drug addict who had already lost a baby and a fiancé when she arrived in Washington. Amelia is now mother to Scout, her son with boyfriend, Link (Chris Carmack). “We’ve seen Amelia be unbelievably resilient,” Scorsone told The Hollywood Reporter in 2019, adding, “She must be made of some sort of rubber because she seems to bounce!”

Mandy Moore returned to Grey's Anatomy to play a corpse

Sometimes, the patients at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital are as memorable as our favorite doctors — although it’s usually because they’ve died in some catastrophic tragedy. But that’s not exactly what happened to Mandy Moore’s character, Mary Portman, when Moore appeared on the medical drama years before she captured our hearts on This Is Us.

Moore first appeared on the iconic procedural, shooting Season 6, Episodes 23 and 24 — “Sanctuary” and “Death And All His Friends.” Mary is at Seattle Grace to get a colostomy bag reversal courtesy of Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), but the procedure never happens because of a shooting in the hospital. Moore (via Mary) returns on Season 7, Episode 4 — “These Arms of Mine” (via IMDb). This time, the hospital is filming a documentary and Dr. Bailey is finally going to perform the procedure on Mary. Tragically, there are complications and Mary is brain dead for much of the episode before she dies. Moore is credited in a later episode, Season 7, Episode 7 — “That’s Me Trying,” playing a corpse as a heartbroken Miranda tries to uncover Mary’s cause of death.

Meredith Grey's first patient in Seattle has her back

On the pilot episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) gets to scrub into Katie Bryce’s (Skyler Shaye) surgery with Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) because she correctly diagnoses an aneurysm that was difficult to find. Katie returns 11 seasons later to have Dr. Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone) operate on another aneurysm on an episode, titled “My Next Life.” But that wasn’t the last we’d see of Katie Bryce. She appears in front of the medical board on behalf of Meredith in Season 16, Episode 8 — “My Shot,” when the doctor’s medical license is in jeopardy.

Upon her first return, Shaye spoke with Cosmopolitan about the memories she had from filming the pilot. “I remember my last day of filming, Katie — Katherine [Heigl] — gave me a card, I still have it, saying how wonderful it was to work with me and she hopes to see me soon.” Shaye shared that she had an emotional moment with a Grey’s Anatomy cast member upon her first return to set. “As soon as I got in the bed and had the gown on, I look at Chandra Wilson, she directed this episode [and plays Dr. Miranda Bailey], and I started crying. And she started crying — we both had this emotional moment together.”

The bomb squad guy exploded but still had life on Grey's Anatomy

Kyle Chandler is more than our favorite football coach on Friday Night Lights. He also played Dylan Young aka “the bomb squad guy” on Grey’s Anatomy Season 2, Episodes 16 and 17 — “It’s The End Of The World” (the Super Bowl episode) and “As We Know It.” It’s Dylan’s job to safely dispose of an active bomb that’s in a man’s chest cavity after safely instructing Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) on how to remove her hand from inside of it. Meredith had taken over for a scared paramedic (Christina Ricci) and 15 seasons later everyone knows she survives — but Dylan isn’t so lucky. The bomb explodes in his hand as he’s about to dispose of it. Therefore, Dylan literally explodes.

Shonda Rhimes told Entertainment Weekly in 2017 that she regrets her choice. “[Dylan] was written to explode,” she recalled. “But I did not expect to have Kyle Chandler. I didn’t want to explode him.” But as we’ve seen already, it’s easy to bring the dead back to live on TV. Rhimes just had Chandler come back for two episodes in Season 3 as a ghost that visits Meredith’s thoughts when she’s fighting for her life after drowning.

A train crash victim returned to Grey's Anatomy as a ghost

Old-school Grey’s Anatomy fans remember that a lot happened in Season 2. Before the bomb in the chest cavity there was the train crash in Season 2, Episode 6 — “Into You Like A Train.” Years after playing Abby, the girl everyone loved to hate on Dawson‘s Creek, Monica Keena plays Bonnie, who has a fiancé named Danny and her whole life ahead of her when a train crashes and she is suddenly, fatefully connected to a fellow passenger named Tom (Bruce A. Young) after a pole impales them.

Even Tom asks the doctors to save Bonnie, who is younger than him — but that’s not how medicine works. Once the two are separated, doctors are unable to save Bonnie — though Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) gives it her best shot. Keena (via Bonnie) returns along with many of Meredith’s patients when she’s fighting for her life after a drowning incident on Grey’s Anatomy Season 3 Episode 17 — “Some Kind of Miracle.”

Source: Read Full Article