‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Ellen Pompeo On How They Pulled Off Shocking Ending

Grey’s Anatomy just gave us the biggest shock and probably saved this year. The season 17 premiere of the medical drama featured a “shocking, jaw-dropping ending”. Spoiler alert to anybody who has not watched the two-hour long premiere.

The long-running medical drama has brought one of its beloved characters back from the dead. The shocking ending came in the form of none other than Derek Shepherd, aka everybody’s McDreamy. The character is Meredith’s late husband who had died back in Season 11.

The return of Patrick Dempsey after 2015 has fans going into a frenzy. The last few seconds of the premiere gave us the shock of seeing his character come back. The sequence was led on after Meredith, played by Ellen Pompeo, was found lying unconscious outside the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.

Before she was found unconscious; the premiere showed the toll the ongoing coronavirus pandemic had taken on her mental, emotional, and physical well-being. After this, Meredith was seen on a beach watching the waves as a familiar voice called her from behind.

Meredith appears shocked as she stands up only to see another figure at a distance. That figure was of course none other than Derek, played by Patrick. Krista Vernoff explained the surprise for fans saying that McDreamy came back to bring happiness to the fans of the show.

The showrunner explained from a writer’s perspective, the surprise happened because it was her job to find a way to bring joy during this pandemic. She said it was a way to bring “joy, escape and fan candy”.

“We Knew That Coming Together Would Be A Little Ray Of Light”- Ellen

Krista said, “We give them romance, and we give them humor; and we give them joy, and a lot of that is lacking for the medical community in this pandemic. And so, I was walking on the beach one day, and I was like, what if there’s a Meredith dream motif?”

The showrunner further explained that she had been imagining a beach motif throughout the season and that’s when she called Ellen. The actress not only stars as the main lead but is also a producer of the show. Krista said she asked Ellen about bringing back a character who is dead. She said it would be fun for fans to watch.

Vernoff said it was actually Ellen’s plan for bringing back Derek. She explained, “Even in my most excitable dream life, that thought hadn’t occurred to me as an option, and there it was”. Both the actors live in Malibu, California as they took a hike near their homes for the golden sequence.

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Ellen explained that the idea just came to her so she asked him about considering coming back and being a part of the storytelling this season. She said, “There’s just so much darkness, and we knew that coming together would be a little ray of light. And so, I think we had the same idea, at the core, to want to help people and bring a smile to people’s faces. So, he loved the idea, and we were just so excited, and we had a ball filming it.”

“I Know That They’ve Been Wanting Us To Get Back Together”- Patrick

Meanwhile, Patrick said they hadn’t spoken or been together for a while. He said it was a great opportunity to catch up and think about what could they do for the frontline responders. The actor shared that he had been keeping track of what Grey’s had been doing.

He shared, “I’ve been tracking what Grey’s had been doing with giving masks and making sure that people had the right equipment; and it came from that place. ‘OK, what can we do to make people feel better; to give some comfort in this time of uncertainty,’ and that’s how it began. And it was really a wonderful experience to go back, to work with [director/EP] Debbie [Allen].”

The actor further explained that the whole atmosphere has changed and working at the beach and meeting the team again was a healing process for him. Patrick further added that it was rewarding and a lot of fun and hopes that fans also feel the same. He said, “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.”

And for the fans of the medical drama, this is not the only appearance we get of McDreamy. If you haven’t watched the trailer for the next episode then let me tell you; we will get more scenes of the beloved TV couple together. The next episode titled, My Happy Ending will air next Thursday and it is directed by Kevin McKidd, who plays Owen Hunt.

“I Think We Have A Genuine Affection For Each Other”

“It was great. And it was really fun, very special. It felt really comfortable, incredibly safe,” Dempsey said of reuniting with Pompeo one more time. (And yes, they filmed the scenes together.)

Ellen shared the sentiment and expressed that it felt great. She further shared how she and Patrick have this chemistry from the first time they have met. The actress explained how it feels like they have known each other for a hundred years and it feels the same.

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The producer further added, “It’s like riding a bike, we just have a chemistry and a dynamic that’s always served us well, and I think we have a genuine affection for each other. And it was very healing to come back, and know that we’re doing something good; putting out a positive story, a healing story, going to make people smile; and I think, for me, I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be able to be at this place in the show where we can do this.”

However, Patrick has left more opportunities to feature on the show open. He said it was fun because he loved the message of the dynamic in the story. The actor further shared with everything happening now, they are getting back into the reality of COVID.

He said, “With everything that we’re dealing with right now, and certainly we have been distracted with the election, but we’re going to get back into the reality of COVID and being in a pandemic, and all the lives that have been lost. Where are these souls going? And I think that’s what attracted me to this storyline; I think it can be really helpful and healing to so many people.”

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.


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