Surprises And Speculations About Grey’s Anatomy’s Season 18 Premiere



Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) operate in photos released from episode three of season 18 of Grey’s Anatomy. Addison is one of a couple characters with a confirmed return to Grey’s Anatomy this season, but there have been many speculations of who else could be coming back.

WARNING: This article contains major spoilers up through season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy.

Grey’s Anatomy will have its 18th season premiere Sept. 30, and so three of our staff members, Editors-in-Chief Carly Philpott and Raegan Knobbe and Staff Writer Katya Roudakov, sat down to talk about what the trailer might mean, who might return to the show this year, and what happened last season.

Carly Philpott: Grey’s Anatomy starts its eighteenth season tonight. The trailer, which came out last week, hinted that someone from main character Meredith Grey’s past would be returning in the premiere episode. We already know we’ll see the return of Ellis Grey, Meredith’s (dead) mother, Addison Montgomery, and Megan Hunt, all characters who left the show in seasons prior. But I don’t think any of those characters are the “surprise return,” because we know they’re coming back.

Katya Roudakov: Sandra Oh is certainly a fan favorite, since her character Cristina was so beloved. The trailer did say “a person from Meredith’s past” would be returning, and Cristina hasn’t been seen on the show since her departure in season ten, so it’s certainly a possibility. Recently, I read an interview where Sandra Oh changed her stance on returning to Grey’s, saying that she would be disappointed if Shonda Rhimes, the show’s creator, didn’t invite her for the series finale. That could apply to the whole season, and if season eighteen is the last one, she could be the surprise guest.

CP: Personally, I think the most likely candidate for this particular return is Nathan Riggs, Megan Hunt’s husband and Meredith’s ex-lover. Since his whole family is coming back, he’s likely to as well, or there may be a complicated storyline of his and Megan’s relationship.

But the character I really hope to see return is Alex Karev. I know the circumstances of actor Justin Chambers’s depart from the show were complicated, but I wonder if he would’ve come back last year if not for COVID. If that’s the case, he’d be a likely returning character. Additionally, Camilla Luddington, who plays Jo Wilson (Alex’s ex), hinted that something big would happen in Jo’s life in the premiere, and this would be pretty big.

Arizona Robbins and Callie Torres could come back, neither left the show on bad terms and they’re fan favorites.

Jackson Avery just left. They’re not going to bring back Jackson. And they’re not going to bring back Derek Shepherd (Meredith’s husband) again after he came back last season, or Mark Sloan and Lexie Grey, who also came back last season. And, I mean, they could bring back Stephanie Edwards, but I don’t think that would affect Meredith as much.

And, well, then we saw Jo dye her hair blonde, which suggests maybe this return could have something to do with her, especially after what Luddington hinted to in that interview.

KR: Well, so, Jo was depressed right after Alex left, right? And she had the little thing with Jackson. And then now Jackson left, right?

CP: Jackson left with April, who was also a surprise return. I mean, they announced it before the episode aired, but she hadn’t been on the show since season 14.

KR: So, why would Jo have dyed her hair blonde? Like why would that be a big thing?

CP: At one point, people were really scared because they saw Luddington with blonde hair. Apparently at some point, Luddington said “I’m gonna dye my hair blonde after I’m done with Grey’s,” so everyone was freaking out. But I don’t think she’s leaving. For one thing, no one, including Luddington, has hinted that Jo’s run is over. Also, from my memory, the only characters that have gotten written off in season premieres in the show have been Mark Sloan, because the actor decided to leave over the hiatus, and Heather Brooks, because that’s how the story went. And neither of those things seem to be the case here.

KR: It would be interesting if Izzie Stevens came back. That would be someone from Meredith’s past.

CP: That would be really interesting. Alex left Jo for Izzie. I don’t believe Izzie is a bad person; she did some bad things, but I like her character. And Alex literally left Jo and all his friends with a letter. Maybe Izzie will come back and apologize or try to reconcile. The other thing is T.R. Knight, who played the deceased George O’Malley, is directing some upcoming episodes, I’ve heard. What if we’re about to kind of get a MAGIC (Meredith Grey, Alex Karev, George O’Malley, Izzie Stevens, and Cristina Yang – the original main characters) return? Because all five people would be in the credits. That would suggest a Cristina return too.

KR: That would be big.

CP: The other thing is we could be getting a “What If’ episode, where everyone who died returns somehow.

KR: A MAGIC reunion would be a really big deal. If it’s the last season like some are saying it is, that would be a good way to circle back and close it because it started with MAGIC. So that could be like a little full circle moment, not for the finale because I don’t think they’d do that for the finale.

CP: I don’t know if this is going to be the last season, but Ellen Pompeo, who plays Meredith, has hinted that this is going to be it for her.

In the trailer, Teddy Altman says “Oh my God!” in this super surprised voice. So that suggests this return is someone she knows, which brings us back to Nathan Riggs, her brother-in-law.

[Raegan Knobbe joins]

KR: And then there’s the guy in the trailer on the stretcher, and they don’t show his face.

CP: See, that actor doesn’t look like the guy who plays Nathan Riggs. Or Alex.

RK: Alex would not be wearing cutoff jeans like that. I don’t know if Riggs could come back, because of Megan Hunt, his wife.

CP: The thing is, though, when they announced Megan would be coming back, they also announced her son would be as well. But not Riggs. So either they couldn’t get that actor, or Riggs is coming back and it’s going to be more complicated. Maybe he’s in the middle of a divorce or having relationship problems with Megan. And because he was once involved with Meredith, he’s going to complicate things between Meredith and Cormac Hayes.

RK: Who’s this Hayes character?

CP: Hayes is the new pediatric surgeon after Alex left.

KR: Him and Meredith are kind of vibing.

CP: They didn’t get anywhere, though, because right when they were about to be a thing, Meredith got COVID and was unconscious for three months. Raegan, have you seen the trailer?

RK: Yeah, it was on TV and we were watching Bachelor in Paradise. Who’s getting married?

CP: Owen Hunt (Megan’s brother) and Teddy Altman. Then there’s also the drama about Amelia Shepherd and Atticus Lincoln, who had a baby, and Amelia not answering Link’s proposal in the season 17 finale.

KR: And in the trailer, Amelia and Link are in some kind of couples’ therapy.

CP: That’s concerning because for all the Grey’s couples who have gone to couples’ therapy, it hasn’t worked.

RK: Like with Callie Torres and Arizona Robbins, Arizona was like “Why did you amputate my leg?” after the plane crash, even though she would be dead without that. The root of all their marriage problems, by the way.

CP: I just think the show will need character returns this season, whether or not it’s the last. I know COVID was a big reason season 17 wasn’t as great as previous seasons, but the writing wasn’t amazing, and all the character returns really redeemed it overall. And if it is the last season, they definitely need to bring back all the greats for one final good bye.