[Warning: There are some major spoilers ahead for the November 12 episode of Grey’s Anatomy.]
The season debut episode of the popular ABC drama left fans shocked when Dempsey’s beloved character, Derek Shepherd, returned in the closing seconds to appear to Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey in a dream sequence that took place on a beach. As Deadline noted, the scene took place just after Meredith collapsed in the hospital parking lot, and she then had a vision of the doctor who was killed off back in 2015.
The show had already been teasing the shocking ending to the season premiere, but some think that Dempsey already spilled the beans months ago in an Instagram post. He took to the site back in June to share a picture of himself wearing a face mask and a caption saying it was a “Beautiful Day to Save Lives.” Some Grey’s Anatomy fans think the post had a double meaning, with Dempsey both encouraging people to wear masks in public and hinting at the return of his television doctor character.
In the minutes after the episode ended, many took to the comments section of the Instagram post to share their excitement at getting to see Derek Shepherd on screen again.
“Literally crying with happy tears!!!” one person wrote.
“I KNEW THIS POST WAS FORESHADOWING SOMETHING,” added another.
Dempsey told Deadline that his work on promoting safety during the COVID-19 pandemic was what helped spark his return to Grey’s Anatomy. He mentioned that officials in Maine had reached out to him to help promote social distancing and encourage people to wear masks, and he initially considered posting a picture that showed him and Pompeo. That led to Dempsey giving his former co-star a phone call and a meeting, which took place just as discussions on how to start the new season were taking place.
Dempsey said filming the beach dream sequence was satisfying, and he hopes it will please viewers as well.
“I think the whole atmosphere has changed, certainly working at the beach, and seeing everybody again was really a very healing process, and really rewarding, and a lot of fun,” he said. “And hopefully, that feeling translates, and the fans enjoy it. I know that they’ve been wanting us to get back together, and I think this will satisfy a lot of people, and surprise a lot of people, hopefully.”