‘Grey’s Anatomy’: What Happened Last with Derek Before the Season 17 Break?

Grey’s Anatomy fans are ready for more Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) after that long winter break. The last time ABC gave viewers a new Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 episode was on Dec. 17. Let’s review exactly what happened between Derek and Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) when they reunited on that beach.

Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd and Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey on Greys Anatomy Season 17
Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd and Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | ABC

‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Derek returned for season 17

Derek Shepherd returned to Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 during episode 2, “The Center Won’t Hold.” In the last few minutes of the episode, Dr. Cormac Hayes (Richard Flood) found Meredith passed out in the parking lot outside the hospital. Fans did not know what had happened to her at the time, but many assumed she had contracted COVID-19.

Meredith found herself on a beach with her dead husband, Derek Shepherd, calling her name in her unconscious state. She turned around and saw him waving and yelling, “Meredith, Meredith!” Viewers were shocked and excited to see Derek back on Grey’s Anatomy, but then the episode ended.

In the next episode, “My Happy Ending,” Derek and Meredith try to continue their conversation. However, when Meredith tries to reach Derek, she somehow always ends up the same distance away from him. 

He tells her that she is worried about the kids and that the sand isn’t real. Meredith yells that she misses him, and Derek tells her that he knows. Later on in the episode, she decides to run, but instead, she trips and falls into the wet sand. Derek can’t help but laugh at her.

“I’ll be right here when you’re ready,” he tells her.

That’s the last fans saw of Derek on Grey’s Anatomy in 2020. However, fans are yearning for a more in-depth conversation between the two since George and Meredith had such a long talk.

Is Derek Shepherd coming back in 2021?

In an interview with Extra in January 2021, Patrick Dempsey told fans that Derek would return to Grey’s Anatomy again in season 17. 

“I’m done shooting, but I am coming back in,” Dempsey told Extra. “You just have to stay tuned.”

Showrunner Krista Vernoff confirmed that Derek would return when Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 comes back from break in 2021.

“You will see McDreamy again in the back half of the season,” Vernoff told Variety

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ season 17 episode 7: Derek might return

In the Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 Episode 7 trailer, there’s a lot to unpack. First of all, it’s a crossover event with the spinoff Station 19. Carina (Stefania Spampinato) and Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) follow the kidnappers while Station 19 suits up to help.

There is only one glimpse of Meredith in the promo, and she’s back on the beach, smiling. 

RELATED: This ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Character’s Appearance on ‘This Is Us’ Gave Fans’ Chills’

“Bailey, something’s happened,” Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) tells Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) at the end of the clip.

The fan theories are running rampant, from something happening to DeLuca to who Meredith might meet on the beach. Viewers will have to wait until March 11, 2021, to see if Derek returns to the beach with Meredith on Grey’s Anatomy.