‘Grey’s Anatomy Season 17: Who’s Coming Back & Everything Else You Need To Know

'Grey's Anatomy' returns for season 17 on Nov. 12 with the doctors facing one of their biggest challenges yet: the COVID-19 pandemic. HollywoodLife has the answers to all your questions about the cast, storylines, and more.

Ellen Pompeo
Image Credit: ABC

The wait for Grey’s Anatomy season 17 has been long, but it will be worth it. The longest-running medical drama will begin airing all-new episodes on Nov. 12. The season was delayed initially due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the cast and crew have started production and have been filming safely.

This season will be unlike any other. After 17 seasons, the doctors at Grey Sloan have never faced a pandemic like this. On top of fighting the pandemic, the doctors will be coping with their personal lives as well. To get you prepped for season 17, HollywoodLife has rounded up the key things you need to know. From who’s returning to whether or not this is the last season, we have you covered.

Ellen Pompeo
Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey in the season 17 premiere. (ABC)

Who’s Coming Back?

Ellen Pompeo is back as Dr. Meredith Grey, along with Grey’s Anatomy vets Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. as Dr. Miranda Bailey and Dr. Richard Webber. Meredith, Miranda, and Richard are the only three cast members who have been with the show since the first season.

Richard Flood
Richard Flood is now a series regular. (ABC)

They’ll be joined by the rest of the incredible cast that includes Kevin McKidd as Dr. Owen Hunt, Jesse Williams as Dr. Jackson Avery, Caterina Scorsone as Dr. Amelia Shepherd, Camilla Luddington as Dr. Jo Karev, Kelly McCreary as Dr. Maggie Pierce, Giacomo Gianniotti as Dr. Andrew DeLuca, Kim Raver as Dr. Teddy Altman, Greg Germann as Dr. Tom Koracick, Jake Borelli as Dr. Levi Schmitt, and Chris Carmack as Dr. Atticus “Link” Lincoln.

Richard Flood is also returning Dr. Cormac Hayes, but this season he will be a series regular. Anthony Hill’s character, Dr. Winston Ndugu, reconnected with Maggie back in season 16, and their story will continue. Anthony is also a series regular in season 17.

During the final moments of the season 17 premiere, Patrick Dempsey returned as Derek Shepherd. Meredith collapsed and woke up on a beach. In the distance stood Derek, smiling and waiting for her. Derek’s appearance is likely the result of a hallucination since Derek was killed in a car crash in season 11.

What About Karev?

Justin Chambers will not be returning as Dr. Alex Karev. The show wrote Alex off last season with him having discovered Izzie gave birth to their twins. He left Seattle and Jo to be with Izzie and the kids in Kansas.

The loss of a character like Karev was a shocking one, but don’t expect another surprise like this in season 17. “There are no notable cast member departures happening between seasons,” showrunner Krista Vernoff told The Hollywood Reporter.

What’s Happening In The Season 17 Premiere?

The crossover premiere event with Grey’s Anatomy and sister show Station 19 will kick off Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. The Station 19 premiere will be followed by the two-hour Grey’s Anatomy season 17 premiere.

Chandra Wilson
Miranda and the other doctors are facing the pandemic head-on. (ABC)

Grey’s Anatomy will pick up one month into the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the Grey Sloan doctors find themselves on the frontlines of this global health crisis. Meanwhile, an unintentionally started fire has first responders from Station 19 bringing patients into the hospital for treatment.

Bailey will find herself in the middle of an argument with patients’ families as they await news about their children who were injured in a fire. Winston surprises Maggie, while Amelia and Link try to have some fun as new parents. Teddy learns her colleagues know more than she may like about her relationship woes with Owen, and Richard and Koracick go at it.

What About Amelia & Link’s Baby Name?

The name of their baby boy was supposed to be revealed in the season 16 finale. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that episode was never filmed. Fans will learn the baby’s name in the season 17 premiere.

Grey's Anatomy
Amelia and Link are charting through parenthood together in season 17. (ABC)

Go ahead and rule out Derek, Grey’s Anatomy fans. “I will tell you that the name is not Derek,” Krista told THR. “I’ll give you that the line in [season 16, episode 22] about Derek was that Link pitched it and Amelia said, ‘I don’t want to cry every time I look at my baby, so no.’ But the name is meaningful, yes.”

Is Season 17 The Last?

The show has not been renewed for season 18 as of now. However, Ellen isn’t ruling out ending the show with season 17. “We don’t know when the show is really ending yet. But the truth is, this year could be it,” she told our sister site Variety in an interview for their Power of Women issue.

She continued: “I’m constantly fighting for the show as a whole to be as good as it can be,” she continued. “As a producer, I feel like I have permission to be able to do that. 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.”

More From Our Partners