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Ellen Pompeo says shocking 'Grey's Anatomy' premiere surprise was a "no brainer"

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ABC/Mike Rosenthal(LOS ANGELES) — (NOTE: SPOILERS FOR “GREY’S ANATOMY” SEASON PREMIERE) Grey’s Anatomy fans got more than they could have ever expected in the season 17 premiere: a MerDer reunion.

At the end of the two-part premiere — a crossover event with spin-off Station 19 — producer and star Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey came face-to-face with her late husband, Derek Shepherd, played by Patrick Dempsey, on a picturesque beach. Too scene took place after Meredith was found on the ground in the Grey Sloan parking lot.

The jaw-dropping, top secret moment, according to Pompeo, was a “no-brainer” because he was “one of the most important people in Meredith’s life.”

“What could we give our audience that would make every single audience member just so incredibly happy?” she told ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday. “And that, clearly, was bringing Patrick Dempsey back on the show.”

Pompeo said she reached out to Dempsey, whose character died at the end of season 11, to discuss the return of his beloved “McDreamy” character. He agreed, she said, when they realized they had “the opportunity to bring a smile to people’s faces during 2020.”

As an homage to all the health care heroes fighting on the front lines against COVID-19, this season of Grey’s Anatomy has been dedicated to them.

One scene from the season 17 premiere even showed Pompeo’s character emotionally breaking down.

“My job is to portray the human side of these doctors,” she explained. “Can you imagine going to work every day and having to walk straight into a contaminated COVID ward? I mean, most people wouldn’t do it.”

Filming this season meant Pompeo and her co-stars have had to undergo various protocols to keep everyone safe, like testing and keeping their distance. 

“We [normally] …play music, we dance, we play jokes on each other,” she recalled of the pre-COVID days. “And all of that is kind of gone now.”

By Carson Blackwelder and Dominick Proto
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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