Ellen Pompeo Responds to 'Grey's Anatomy' Shocker: 'We Know People Are Gonna Freak Out'

Thursday's season 17 premiere saw the return of a fan-favorite character.

Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Thursday's season premiere of Grey's Anatomy

Ellen Pompeo knew Patrick Dempsey's Grey's Anatomy return would bring some much-needed joy to fans amid a challenging year. The 51-year-old actress stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live after the show's two-hour season 17 premiere on Thursday, and gushed over welcoming her onscreen husband back to the show.

The moment happened at the end of the episode when Pompeo's Meredith, exhausted from her work fighting COVID-19, collapsed.

Whether she died or went off into a dream state is presently unknown, but fans set that particular concern aside for a moment when they saw what awaited the surgeon on the (perhaps temporary) other side. It was none other than the late Derek Shepherd (Dempsey), who waved at his wife from across the beach. Derek died back in 2015, during the 11th season of the show.

"Isn't it so good?!" Pompeo gushed to Kimmel. "It was so fun. Because we know people are gonna freak out. We all know 2020 has been a really long, ugly road, and we were so happy just to be able to film these scenes and know how much joy it was gonna bring people."

"We definitely had a ball," she added of shooting the scene.

Fans of the series can delight in knowing that Dempsey's premiere appearance won't be his last this season.

"It's more than that one scene you saw," showrunner Krista Vernoff told Deadline of plans to include Dempsey in at least one more future episode.

Likewise, Dempsey told the outlet that he's down to continue to appear on the show.

"I really love the message of what the dynamic is in this story. With everything that we’re dealing with right now, and certainly we have been distracted with the election, but we’re going to get back into the reality of COVID and being in a pandemic, and all the lives that have been lost. Where are these souls going?" he said. "And I think that’s what attracted me to this storyline, I think it can be really helpful and healing to so many people."

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays on ABC.