George O'Malley's Return To 'Grey's Anatomy' Might Hint At Ellen Pompeo's Future On The Show

- Grey's Anatomy -
George O'Malley's Return To 'Grey's Anatomy' Might Hint At Ellen Pompeo's Future On The Show

The sand and the ocean might not be real, but the nostalgia for old Grey's Anatomy is very, very palpable. As if Derek Shepherd walking down a beach in a pair of cuffed chinos in the Season 17 premiere wasn't enough to make you remember just why you convinced everyone who asked for a good quarantine TV recommendation this summer to finally start watching ("It's all on Netflix! You can scroll through Season 14, I swear!"), George O'Malley also returned to Grey's Anatomy in Meredith's coronavirus-induced beach dream. And this ghost of hospital's past may actually hint at Ellen Pompeo's future on the series.

Grey's fans know two things are true when old characters, dead or alive, make appearances during a medical emergency: 1) Things are going to get worse before they get better, and 2) Code Blue — we're probably losing someone.

So when George (T.R. Knight) turned around on that oceanfront balcony to wave Mer over in her fever-death fantasy, you might have been thrilled to see yet another familiar face return to the show. Cherish that feeling, though, because moments later it probably hit you: Are we are on Meredith Grey death-watch?


Listen, no one wants Meredith to die or for Ellen Pompeo to leave the show, because that would simply have to mean the end of it all (she's the titular Anatomy!). But the fact that Pompeo herself has publicly floated the idea of leaving the show certainly makes these blasts from the past feel quite important.

Pompeo has talked openly about sticking with her character and the series in the name of job stability, and she's fought (and won) a number of contract negotiations about her pay. But even then, Pompeo has frequently been the one to plant seeds of doubt in fans' minds about whether or not she wants to remain on the show. In an interview with Variety this year, even, she said, “I mean, this is the last year of my contract right now. I don’t know that this is the last year? But it could very well could be.”

Also, in August of this year, Pompeo was a guest on Dax Shepard's podcast, Armchair Expert, and revealed, "At this point, having done what we’ve done, to leave while the show is still on top, is definitely a goal. I’m not trying to stay on the show forever, no way.”

So what does it mean? Are McDreamy, and now George, a sign that this is the beginning of the end of it all?


Let's consider history. Every time Meredith is on the verge of dying, she sees dead people. She heard Denny when she was drowning. She often sees or hears her mom, Ellis, in tough times. There was a whole, digitally-enhanced episode where she saw a lot of Grey's ghosts after a particularly tough day. Could this dream beach simply be another notch in our "The One Where Meredith Almost Dies A Tragic Death And Sees Her Friends" belt. Or are these guest appearances the result of a culmination of "close calls," preparing us to chill our wine and get ready for what could be the biggest blow to the series yet.

As Meredith is lying in the ICU, with everyone at Grey-Sloan trying to get her coronavirus trial treatments, she is falling in and out of consciousness. In these moments we know Meredith sees Derek and George, and contemplates what it would mean to die now after everything she's been through — leaving her kids, friends, and the hospital behind. But — and this is an important but — Meredith also sees Richard Webber. As far as we are concerned, Webber is very much alive, so seeing him may actually be a good sign that Meredith's death dreams are actually just fever dreams.


Plus, while George jokes about haunting Mer's kids just to see them (cute, not creepy in this case), the two friends finally get closure. (They even talk about everyone laughing at his funeral.) But it is George's words about his mother's grief seem to make Mer question whether or not she has it in her to leave this heavenly, khaki-clad beach in her mind to go back and continue fighting and see her kids again. (Amelia and Link have been watching them, by the way, which does seem to give Meredith some pause, even though we never see her with her kids.)

These comments will hopefully be enough for Meredith to come back from the beach and pull through. It may take time (and I wouldn't say no to a few other ghosts appearing on the sand), but Meredith has to live. And then fans will be burdened with weeks and weeks of her recovery before she gets back into action. A small price to pay, I suppose.

So while George's appearance, paired with Derek's earlier in the season, feels ominous, perhaps we just take this as catching up with an old friend who has always been really good at giving advice? Yes, the chino and light-wash denim life may be in Meredith's future at some point, but George and Webber's appearance should give us hope that this isn't Meredith's time.

Images: ABC

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