Grey’s Anatomy, the popular American medical drama series, once again saw old characters reprising their roles in the show’s latest season.
Chyler Leigh (who played protagonist Meredith Grey’s half sister Dr Lexie Grey) and Eric Dane (who played Dr Mark Sloan) returned to the show in season 17 as spirits of their characters, even after their association with the show ended much earlier.
While Lexie died in a plane crash in the eighth season, Sloan died in the ninth season.
Both Lexie and Mark appeared in Meredith’s (played by Ellen Pompeo) dream while she battles Covid-19.
In the dream sequence, the three characters are on a beach where they were seen discussing Meredith’s possibility of returning to the real world as she is seemingly stuck between life and death.
Leigh and Mark joined other popular cast members Patrick Dempsey (who played Dr Derek Shepherd, Meredith’s late husband) and TR Knight (who played Dr George O’Malley), who appeared in guest appearances in season 17. While Derek died in a car accident in season 11, George died after being hit by a bus in the fifth season. Derek was the first character to mark his appearance on the beach in season 17.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Grey’s Anatomy’s showrunner Krista Vernoff termed the beach as a “magical in-between place”.
“For me, that is a real place that exists in between; it’s an in-between place where Meredith can hang out and the dead people she loves can visit her. That’s where it started. But not everybody believes in a life beyond this body,” she said.
Season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy has been featuring former characters as the doctors in the fictional Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital try to survive a global pandemic. Former Grey’s Anatomy actor Sarah Drew will also be returning and reprising as Dr April Kepner. Drew left the series in season 14’s finale.
The return of many characters has left people wondering if season 17 will be the show’s last one. In an interview with Variety, Pompeo had said, “I mean, this is the last year of my contract right now. I don’t know that this is the last year? But it very well could be.”
Vernoff echoed the actor’s views and told Variety that she did not know if the show will be renewed for another season.
“It’s a source of frustration at this point. And it sort of doubles my job, my workload, because I have to plan for both contingencies. But I am. And God willing, I’ll know soon,” she said.
Despite running for almost 16 years, Grey’s Anatomy still remains networking channel ABC’s most popular show. The return of Dempsey boosted the show’s ratings, raking in 5.7 million views.
Grey’s Anatomy premiered on ABC in 2005 and is the network’s longest-running scripted primetime show.