A familiar face could be scrubbing back in at Grey Sloan Memorial this year. In a new interview with TVLine, showrunner Krista Vernoff teased a past character could return for Grey's Anatomy Season 16. Which character, you ask? That's an excellent question, and it's one that the savvy showrunner is unlikely to answer in the immediate future, especially since she pointed out that the potential return hinges on the show being able to work out a deal with the character's portrayer.
Since it's been on the air for 16 years and counting, there are plenty of characters who fans would love to see return to the show. In lieu of a tease, Vernoff told TVLine, "I'm trying to get someone back. There's someone I'm hoping will make an appearance this year, [but] it's a real maybe. I'm trying."
The biggest clue in Vernoff's mysterious hint is that the character in question would be returning for an "appearance." That suggests this isn't a long-term return. Instead, this could be a visit tied to an existing main character's story. Season 15 ended with a number of fan favorites in precarious situations: Meredith, Alex, and Richard were all fired, Jackson disappeared into the fog, and that whole insurance fraud situation is still waiting to be resolved. Could the character in question be coming to give a pep talk or simply offer support to one of the series regulars?
Vernoff also told TVLine that while Season 16 is theme-less, it will focus on "family," "expansion," and "fun." A big part of the "expansion" will come from more frequent crossovers with the show's spinoff Station 19, but it could also mean that the world of Grey's Anatomy will be opening up in new ways. And, hey, with three of the main characters out of work, there could be job interviews in different locales coming up soon. OK, so Meredith, Alex, and Richard will almost certainly get their jobs back, but that doesn't mean they can't explore their options in the meantime.
With all of that in mind, the two most likely candidates for a short guest appearance could be Sara Ramirez's Callie or Sandra Oh's Cristina Yang. In September 2018, Ramirez tweeted that she was open to returning as Callie, even though she was a series regular on Madam Secretary at the time. Earlier this week, CBS announced that due to a time jump, the actor would no longer be a series regular on Madam Secretary, which means Ramirez could be available to reprise her role as Mer and Alex's friend — maybe long enough to offer one of the embattled doctors a new position in New York where she's currently living?
Given the situation Meredith is currently in — unemployed and potentially facing insurance fraud charges — a visit from her original person could be monumental, which is why now seems like the perfect time for Oh to stop by for a visit. Granted, the Emmy-winning actor is super busy these days thanks to BBC America's Killing Eve, but Cristina will always be Meredith's family, and it sure sounds like she could use a pep talk from the no-nonsense surgeon right about now.
In April, Oh told Extra she didn't see a Grey's cameo in her future. "I just got to tell you, creatively you have moved on and while I know, and I deeply appreciate it, because I can feel it from the fans how much they love Cristina and that the show also still keeps Cristina alive, for me, [Killing Eve] is my home now," she explained. "This is where I am." But the definitive nature of her answer could explain why Vernoff emphasizes that's she trying to make a return happen.
Grey's Anatomy's past is full of fan favorites who are long overdue for a visit, so whether the actor in question is Oh, Ramirez, or someone else entirely, fans should keep their fingers crossed that Vernoff can make this mystery comeback happen. Because, come on, nothing is better than an unexpected Grey's reunion.