Ellen Pompeo Jokes 'Grey's' Wouldn't Have Brought Back Derek If He Was Fat

LOL! Following the shocking season 17 premiere of Grey’s Anatomy, star and producer Ellen Pompeo appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to break down Patrick Dempsey‘s return. Although she played coy about what’s next, the host, 53, still asked some very funny questions.

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“This is a hypothetical [question], of course. Let’s say that since he left the show, Patrick had put on, like, 80 pounds. He was really fat,” host Jimmy Kimmel asked Pompeo, 51, during the Thursday, November 12, episode. “Do you think you would still have done this? Would it be like, he’s like, ‘Hey, here I am on the beach! I’ve been eating.’”

After some laughter, the actress responded, “Nope, probably not! It wouldn’t have the same impact with the fans. You know, the girls want to see McDreamy being McDreamy.”

At the end of Thursday’s episode, Dempsey, 54, returned to the show for the first time in five years. The character of Derek Shepherd died in a car crash at the end of season 11, leaving Meredith absolutely shattered.

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During the premiere, Meredith was found unconscious in the Grey Sloan parking lot. When she wouldn’t wake up, the cameras cut to a gorgeous beach, where she reunited with her late husband.

Fans will see more of Derek in upcoming episodes, showrunner Krista Vernoff revealed to Deadline after the episode. Vernoff, as well as Dempsey and Pompeo, also explained that they wanted to bring back the character now — in 2020 — to give fans a reason to smile after such a difficult year.

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“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,” the Devils actor said. “Where are these souls going? And I think that’s what attracted me to this story line, I think it can be really helpful and healing to so many people.”

Grey’s Anatomy airs on ABC Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET.

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