How wearing masks is related to Patrick Dempsey's surprise return to 'Grey's Anatomy'

By Heather Cichowski

Patrick Dempsey floored Grey's Anatomy fans when his character, Derek Shepherd, aka McDreamy, appeared on a recent episode of the medical drama alongside Ellen Pompeo's character Meredith Grey five years after the actor left the production and his character died in a car accident.

In a new episode of The Ellen Show, Patrick spoke about how his surprise return came to be and how the coronavirus pandemic was linked to it.

"I reached out to Ellen [Pompeo]. Ellen and I got together in July," the actor said, speaking to Ellen DeGeneres. "'What can we do to get people to wear masks?' 'How can we make an impact here?'"

At this point, his former co-star asked Patrick his thoughts on returning for Season 17 of Grey's Anatomy. The 54-year-old thought it was a "great opportunity, especially for the fans, to see everyone united in a bizarre way."

The actor credited Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff for coming up with a concept where Derek would visit Meredith in her COVID dream.

Patrick also revealed how they managed to keep Derek's return a secret and the very small number of people who knew about it.

"The response has been incredibly overwhelming and very moving," he added now that viewers are finally seeing the episode.

MORE: Ellen DeGeneres addresses allegations of a 'toxic' work environment on the set of her show

Fans hoping to watch more of McDreamy will be pleased to know "he comes back to visit throughout the season." Patrick isn't sure the number of episodes the character is in, but rest assured he will be seen again!

In the episode of The Ellen Show, Patrick also talked about his new show, Devils, and whether his character is good or bad. Additionally, he chatted about how the series will address the coronavirus pandemic in its second season.

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