Grey’s Anatomy season 17 saw the shock return of two beloved characters, but one had been more unexpected than the other as he left many, several seasons back: George O’Malley, and here’s why he came back. Created by Shonda Rhimes, Grey’s Anatomy premiered on ABC in 2005, and though it was initially a mid-season replacement, it immediately got the praise of critics and audiences, so it’s lived on for over a decade. Even though the majority of its original cast is now gone, Grey’s Anatomy continues to be rather popular, and also to the aid of many, it shows no signs of stopping soon.
As with every other medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy follows the lives of surgical interns, residents, and attendings as they do their best to juggle their professional and private lives, which frequently overlap and make way for a lot of drama both in and outside the hospital. The series is directed by Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), who began as an intern alongside several fan-favorite personalities: Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), Alex Karev (Justin Chambers), and George O’Malley (T.R. Knight), all which are no longer part of this sequence. The most tragic passing, however, was that of George O’Malley, which had a sudden and tragic passing in the season, and made a surprise return in season 17.
George struggled to find his path in the field of medicine, and if he appeared to have finally discovered it, he abruptly joined the U.S. Army in Iraq. Richard Webber decided to give him his very last day off so he could spend some time with his family before he left, but on his way home, he saved a woman’s life by leaping in front of a bus — unfortunately, he left him severely injured and disfigured, to the point where he was helpless, and it was only when he tracked”007″ (one of his nicknames) on Meredith’s hands that they understood they had been treating George. His brain swelled during the operation and he had been declared brain dead. After that, George appeared in flashbacks and distinctive episodes, but he left a stronger comeback in season 17, as part of Meredith’s COVID hallucinations.
Speaking to Deadline, executive producer and showrunner Krista Vernoff and T.R. Knight opened about George’s return to Grey’s Anatomy after all those years and what it meant to them and the characters in the collection. Vernoff clarified that George was her very first idea when she developed the image of Meredith walking on the shore during her COVID-induced fantasies, in part because George is just one of her favorite characters and because of the dynamic between Meredith and George, also of Pompeo and Knight. Knight shared that Vernoff talked about giving George closure by bringing him back, he did not think the personality needed until his husband advised him that “sometimes closure’s shutting a door, and occasionally it’s revisiting a comfortable room”.
Although fans were happy to see T.R. Knight ago as George O’Malley in Grey’s Anatomy season 17 it also came as a surprise — the recurrence of Patrick Dempsey’s Derek Shepherd too as one of Meredith’s hallucinations was also a nice surprise but a somewhat predictable one as he had been her husband, but George’s appearance was not one fan were anticipating. Whether this short return gave complete closure to George O’Malley or not is something which fans will decide, but it was sure nice to see him again.