'Grey's Anatomy': Patrick Dempsey Confirms Meredith Has COVID, Says Derek Will Return 'Throughout the Season' (Video)

ABC medical drama alum tells Ellen DeGeneres how hard it was to keep his big comeback secret

(Warning: Spoilers ahead of last week’s episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.”)

The late Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) returned to his love Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) in a dream at the end of last Thursday’s Season 17 premiere of “Grey’s Anatomy,” while Mer was passed out in the hospital parking lot. Fans didn’t know exactly what was wrong with the doctor at that point, but Dempsey confirmed on “Ellen” Wednesday that Meredith, after helping COVID-19 patients for days, has in fact contracted the virus herself.

“And I was like, what a great opportunity for people and how great it would be for the fans, really, to see everybody reunited in this sort of bizarre way,” the “Grey’s” alum told Ellen DeGeneres of his top-secret return for Season 17. “And [showrunner Krista Vernoff] came up with this concept where I would come and visit [Meredith] in her COVID dream.”

For now, Dempsey is set to reprise his McDreamy part again on Thursday’s episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” but how many more times can Meredith-Derek shippers expect to see him this season?

“That’s a good question. I’m not sure how many. I know I’m throughout the season. He comes back to visit,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey also told DeGeneres how hard it was to keep his big “Grey’s” return secret from fans who have been clamoring for him to come back since his Season 11 exit, a move he agreed to do when Pompeo pitched him what the writers had planned with a coronavirus-related plot.

“And no one knew until I showed up on set that day,” the actor said. “And then we were really concerned that someone would take a picture and it would get out somehow. But we managed to keep it a secret, which was pretty phenomenal. And the impact, the response, has been incredibly overwhelming and very moving.”

Watch Dempsey’s interview with DeGeneres above.

“Grey’s Anatomy” airs Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC.

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