When the Grey's Anatomy season 17 premiere ended, viewers could hardly believe their eyes: "Derek Shepherd," who died in season 11, suddenly reappeared in a dream sequence. The return was entirely unexpected — but can we expect to see more of Patrick Dempsey on Grey's?

Patrick Dempsey was with Grey's Anatomy since season 1

With the surprise comeback, showrunner Krista Vernoff wanted only one thing: to "bring joy" to the fans — and she did just that. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which is also upending Grey Sloan Memorial, the return of "Derek" was a small ray of hope.

In a Deadline interview, Vernoff also revealed how long "Derek" will stay: "It's more than the one scene you saw," she said. Fans will no doubt be happy to hear that. Dempsey's departure left a huge void in the popular hospital series.

"Grey's Anatomy": "Derek Shepherd" returns

The reunion of the crew and actors was, according to Vernoff, an unforgettable experience: "It was so hard to get out on this beach and be together again like these different people as we are now but I can't overestimate how joyful and healing this experience is."

It's been over 17 years since the first Grey's Anatomy episode. Ellen Pompeo and Dempsey were there from the start, until "Derek" died tragically in a 2015 episode. But for now, he's back, even if it's only in the dreams of "Meredith."

Patrick Dempsey talks Grey's Anatomy return

Dempsey also had a lot of fun seeing his old colleagues again, as he told Deadline: "It's crazy how much time has passed. It really was so comforting, and lovely, and inspiring to go back, and to work together, to see everybody."

To see how it plays out with "Derek" and "Meredith," viewers can tune into ABC Thursdays and Grey's Anatomy season 17. Worldwide viewers are still awaiting a premiere date for the new season.

For more, get the full story of Dempsey's comeback here.

'Emily In Paris': Meet "Camille" In Real Life

Find out about the captivating actress!

'Emily In Paris': Meet "Camille" In Real Life