How Often Grey’s Anatomy Will Bring Patrick Dempsey’s McDreamy Back In Season 17

Grey's Anatomy Patrick Dempsey Derek McDreamy Shepherd ABC

Grey's Anatomy Patrick Dempsey Derek McDreamy Shepherd ABC

(Image credit: ABC)

Be Warned: Major spoilers for the Season 17 premiere of Grey’s Anatomy are discussed below.

You can file Grey’s Anatomy’s Season 17 premiere under “pleasant surprise.” The episode that kicked off the veteran medical drama’s return showcased the surprise re-appearance of Patrick Dempsey, who departed the show back in Season 11. Dempsey’s Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd got killed off, and the show has never been the same. Cut to Season 17, and some wounds are healing. So, how often is Grey’s Anatomy planning to bring McDreamy back?

Well, it is a bit complicated. It all began when he returned in Meredith’s dreams after she collapsed in the parking lot of Grey Sloan, and now fans are wondering how long it will last. In incredibly exciting news, the Derek spotting was not one-and-done. How often will fans see him in Season 17? Asked by Ellen DeGeneres how many episodes he will be in, Patrick Dempsey told The Ellen Show:

That’s a good question. I’m not sure how many. I know throughout the season he comes back to visit.

That's promising! Grey’s Anatomy’s showrunner Krista Vernoff was more precise, telling The Los Angeles Times that he would “appear three more times” following the Season 17 premiere. Does that mean three more episodes? It sounds that way. One interesting thing is that Patrick Dempsey mentions his arc lasting “throughout the season,” which indicates Derek sticking around for a while.

Patrick Dempsey’s comments suggest that his appearances will happen “throughout” Season 17 rather than occurring in short succession. However, when he was discussing how he felt about his Grey’s Anatomy return, Dempsey mentioned reuniting with Kevin McKidd. McKidd is directing Episode 3.

I do not know about you, but I do not consider it being seen “throughout” the current season if all of his appearances are in the beginning. Is there something that I am missing? Grey’s Anatomy has had to be super-secretive to make the initial twist a surprise, so I do not expect full disclosure on the storyline right after it has begun.

Elsewhere in his interview, Patrick Dempsey opened up about his surprising return to Grey’s Anatomy, which came about in an intriguing way. As Dempsey told it, he had reached out to his former co-star Ellen Pompeo in July to join forces on how they could encourage people to wear masks. They also caught up, which makes sense. Back in 2018, Pompeo said she had not talked to Dempsey in years.

During their conversation, Ellen Pompeo asked Patrick Dempsey about how he would feel coming back to the show. Keep in mind rumors of behind-the-scenes tension had allegedly fueled his Grey’s Anatomy exit. In the end, Dempsey was open to it, and after getting pitched the storyline of McDreamy entering his widow’s dreams, viewers got their Season 17 surprise.

Stay tuned to see when McDreamy will pop back in with new episodes of Grey’s Anatomy on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. For further drama, there is 2021’s winter/spring schedule. While you wait to see more of McDreamy, check out his past episodes. Grey’s Anatomy is currently streaming on Netflix, along with lots of new 2020 content.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.