Grey's Anatomy Season 16 premieres September 26, and the 2019-2020 season may bring back a familiar face from past seasons. Showrunner Krista Vernoff explained her goal:
I’m trying to get someone back. There’s someone I’m hoping will make an appearance this year, [but] it’s a real maybe. I’m trying.
Grey's Anatomy boss Krista Vernoff emphasized the "maybe" to TVLine, but it's encouraging that someone may return. Who will it be? There are too many options to count, and the answer may end up being someone disappointing (please don't say it's just Leah again). But here are some of the more likely options.
This may just be a fan hope, but what if Kate Walsh returns as Addison? Addison was part of the Grey's Anatomy family from 2005 to 2012, and got her own spinoff in Private Practice. She and Amelia Shepherd were like sisters, and Krista Vernoff did tell TVLine Season 16 is "a season of family" -- as well as a "Season of Fun" -- and I can see Addison popping in at Grey Sloan to either visit with Amelia, check in with everyone else, or maybe even consult on a case. Kate Walsh has stayed on good terms with the Grey's world, saying she was open to a return. Plus, Shonda Rhimes said she would love to see Addison back, adding this to THR:
I've said a million times that before the show ends its run, Addison has got to put on her shoes and scrub cap and come scrub in at the hospital. That's a given for me.
If Addison doesn't return in Grey's Anatomy Season 16, maybe we'll see her in Season 17, since ABC already renewed the show for the 2020-2021 season.
It's certainly possible for Grey's Anatomy Season 16 to bring back Callie, and in fact we were just speculating about that, since Sara Ramirez announced she won't be returning for Madam Secretary's final season. Sara Ramirez being done with the CBS show doesn't mean she'd definitely return to Grey's Anatomy, though. After all, why would Callie make an appearance when she's not even in Seattle anymore? She's in New York -- and the Season 14 finale showed Arizona and Sofia moving out to NYC as well. Would Grey's bring back Callie without Arizona? Seems unlikely. Jessica Capshaw may be willing to make an appearance again as Arizona, after Krista Vernoff wrote her out of the story in Season 14. But the way the tease was phrased -- that Vernoff is trying to get "someone" back -- made it sound singular. Which leads me to other options...
If we see Katherine Heigl return as Izzie Stevens in 2020, it would be a full 10 years since her departure in Grey's Anatomy Season 6. Heigl recently said she worried it would almost be a distraction for fans to bring Izzie back, and she's not sure if she would do it. But I could see it. Time heals all wounds, and bringing Heigl back might finally heal the ugliness of her departure at the time. Shonda Rhimes isn't the day-to-day showrunner anymore, now that she has her Netflix specials, and I don't really know how Krista Vernoff might feel about it. Alex Karev has talked about what he imagines Izzie doing now, and that's a nice place to end her story -- on a happy note. But I could also see Izzie and Alex getting better closure than that, and maybe even becoming real friends as he tries to help his new wife Jo navigate through her trauma. Maybe this is a long-shot, but not as much of one as in the past.
Sarah Drew was understandably hurt when Grey's Anatomy wrote her and Jessica Capshaw out after Season 14. Fans were devastated to lose both April and Arizona. But April didn't die or even leave Seattle. She is there, now married to Matthew and co-parenting baby Harriet with Jackson Avery. As Jesse Williams has said, it would make sense to see April again, since she is Harriet's mother and she's still in the area. Would Sarah Drew want to return so soon, though? It might still sting that she was written out. I could see this going either way.
This seems very unlikely, since Sandra Oh has made it clear she's moved on from Grey's Anatomy. She's seemed open to returning at the very end, but Season 16 won't even be the end. We already know it will at least come back for Season 17. However, Cristina is Meredith Grey's "person," and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) ended Season 15 in a very bad place. Mer was fired from Grey Sloan and may even go to prison. I could see Meredith calling Cristina to update her and maybe just vent or get advice from a friend. Would Sandra Oh make an appearance for that, or would she be too busy with Killing Eve and other things?
Meredith Grey had a brief romance with Nathan Riggs after Derek Shepherd died and before she got into her current situation with Andrew DeLuca. However, Riggs left Seattle when Megan Hunt -- Owen's sister -- was discovered to be alive and brought home. Riggs and Megan started a new life together in Los Angeles. Abigail Spencer already returned as Megan in Season 15, and was shocked by all of the updates in her brother Owen's life. She's the one who urged him to go into therapy. The Season 15 finale showed Teddy having her baby with Owen, so I can see Aunt Megan showing up and bringing Riggs along for the ride. However, would that even be worthy of bringing up as a return? I don't know.
Jerrika Hinton left Grey's Anatomy after Season 13, but her Dr. Stephanie Edwards is still alive. She quit Grey Sloan after the fire, but maybe it was just temporary and she could be talked into a return? I might be reaching, but Miranda Bailey did just fire three major power players -- Meredith, Richard, and Alex. Someone is going to have to at least temporarily step in for them to get stuff done at the hospital, and I could see Bailey making some calls to get back some past faces. Could Stephanie be one?
Who are your guesses? There are any number of past Grey's Anatomy characters who could return, but who would be worth even mentioning in an interview as someone the showrunner was trying to make an appearance? An "appearance" could just be like a cameo, which is why I had Izzie, Callie, or Addison as top options. To me, it would be exciting but also make the most sense to see one of them -- as opposed to Cristina, who may just be a dream.
Grey's Anatomy Season 16 may not even be able to convince this mystery star to appear. Hopefully Krista Vernoff explains the character she meant, however this turns out. Season 16 premieres Thursday, September 26 at 8 p.m. on ABC.