For 13 years, the cast of Grey's Anatomy have been welcomed into our home as they made us laugh, cry, and put us on the edge of our seats every Thursday night without fail.
But, there have been a lot of changes throughout the show's 15-season run, with several characters either written off or newly introduced.
Last season, fans of the medical drama had their hearts broken when Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw - who played Dr. April Kepner and Dr. Arizona Robbins respectively - were leaving the show.
While the actresses were taken by surprise, their characters left to go seek new adventures, which would give them the opportunity to one day return, rather than being gruesomely killed off.
Ellen Pompeo, who plays Meredith Grey, made the shocking revelation in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, that Shonda Rimes only kills off characters in a brutal way based on the actors act behind the scenes.
"You only get killed off when your behavior is bad," she said. "If you're a nice actor, you die nice."
However, on Thurday's episode of Grey's Anatomy, titled "Flowers Grow Out of My Grave," saw the return of a handful of fan favorites who tragically "passed away" several years before.
Warning - spoilers ahead!
During the episode, a patient educates Meredith on the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday to remember deceased loved ones, support their spiritual journey, and who may even return for a visit.
As Meredith exits the hospital, she's seen by the ghosts of her departed friends and family, with the Spanish-language version of Snow Patrol’s "Chasing Cars" playing in the background.
George, her friend and fellow intern is heard calling her name, while her mother Ellis is smiling at her from behind.
Her dog Doc is seen marching ahead of her in the hallway, her half-sister Lexie is behind a desk, and her husband Derek and his best friend Mark watch her walk away.
"We have some iconic footage that the fans will immediately recognize."
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter with Grey's executive producer Krista Vernoff, fans get the inside scoop of how the episode came together.
"When we got our air date, which was before we had our season planned, the writer of tonight's episode, [writer] Kiley Donovan, asked to do a 'Day of the Dead' episode because we're actually airing on the same day," Vernoff said.
"I loved the idea because after 15 seasons, it's exciting to be airing on a holiday we've never done an episode about — and because it's the holiday of the community that is being attacked in our country right now by our government and misrepresented."
"The holiday is delightful…I suggested Meredith's dead people come back and visit her in this episode. This was one of our first ideas at the beginning of the season."
Sadly, the actors didn't make a triumphant return to set, as production decided to use old footage (some that was never aired before) instead.
"We have some iconic footage that the fans will immediately recognize: That shot of Derek, the fans who have watched the show multiple times know what episode that is from," Vernoff explained.
"There are iconic moments and shots that we pulled from moments that actually never aired on the show — like Mark with Derek."
"This was a Day of the Dead, one-time-only thing."
However, fans missed out on two other iconic characters when production decided to scrap Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyle Chandler's scenes, who played Denny and Dylan the bomb squad guy.
"When I watched that version, it just felt like a stunt because I didn't believe in the emotional reality that Denny and Dylan were visiting Meredith on the Day of the Dead," Vernoff shared.
"I figured they'd be visiting their own families. Denny is visiting Izzie,if anybody. It felt like a clip show as opposed to here are Meredith's beloved people and dog that she's lost coming for a visit."
Unfortunately, Veronoff said this will be last time we see our favorite characters return to the show.
"This was a Day of the Dead, one-time-only thing. The holiday is about the dead visiting the living and the living inviting the dead to come for a visit. So, it felt like the perfect opportunity to see the people Meredith has lost," she said.
Check out the episode's promo:
[H/T: The Hollywood Reporter]