After teasing a big return from Meredith Grey’s past ahead of the season 18 premiere of Grey’s Anatomy, some viewers were celebrating when Scott Speedman’s Dr. Nick Marsh appeared on screen — while other fans were left dumbfounded.
“I HAVE ZERO MEMORY OF THIS MAN #GreysAnatomy,” one fan tweeted alongside Keke Palmer’s infamous “I’m sorry to this man” Vanity Fair video.
Another viewer was hoping for a former full-time cast member to return. “Who we got vs who we could’ve gotten: #GreysAnatomy,” the user wrote alongside a photo of Justin Chambers’ Alex Karev and Speedman’s Nick.
The Felicity alum previously appeared on a season 14 episode of Grey’s Anatomy, playing a transplant surgeon who collapsed while visiting Grey Sloan to retrieve a liver. While Nick and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) flirted during his visit, nothing more happened between the pair and she never saw him again — until the Thursday, September 30, episode.
“3 years later and they still look at each other the same #GreysAnatomy,” a third fan tweeted alongside snaps from seasons 14 and 18.
A fourth person summed up the reactions, tweeting, “I love how one half of the fandom is passing out because Nick is back, and the other half is still trying to figure out who is. #GreysAnatomy.”
Meredith ran into Nick during Thursday’s premiere while visiting a Minnesota hospital that is paying tribute to her late mother, Ellis Grey (played by returning actress Kate Burton), with a research lab. After a night of chatting during which Meredith revealed that she was seeing Dr. Cormac Hayes (Richard Flood), but he recently ended things, Meredith told Nick that she was not going to sleep with him — a callback to the character telling Patrick Dempsey’s Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd the same thing in the pilot.
“Easter egg found… Look out for more!!” Pompeo tweeted during the episode alongside photos of Meredith wearing the same shirt during the pilot and season 18 premiere.
After the episode aired, showrunner Krista Vernoff and Speedman shared behind-the-scenes details of his return.
“We reached out to Scott as I was envisioning the show. Actually toward the end of last season, I started saying to Ellen, I’m having this thought, and she was like, ‘Again?’, because I had made that phone call a few times. But this time, we got lucky, he said yes, and we planned the season accordingly,” Vernoff told Deadline.
The actor added there are two reasons he signed on as a series regular after he got the call.
“It is timing. To be totally honest, the last time wasn’t the right time. I haven’t done a show since the last show I did. I think a lot of people love that schedule, and I really do, too, but I was wanting to do other things,” the You star said. “But you always know, you put something in the back of your mind when you do have chemistry with somebody, and you do enjoy the work experience, because that’s rare, actually. So, when this opportunity came around, I was trying to think of why not to do it, and I couldn’t come up with any reasons. It was a great show, really fun people, and it just felt the right timing for me. I wanted to jump in, and then, when I heard what the storyline could be, that was exciting to me.”
Grey’s Anatomy airs on ABC Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET. Scroll through for more on Speedman’s return:
His Original Arc
Vernoff confirmed that Speedman was never supposed to return after his season 14 appearance.
“I will say that it was planned as one episode, and that’s how we got Scott to come do it. That season, if you’ll recall, season 14, Ellen had come off a string of romances, and when I came in to run the show, she asked for a break from romance, and I thought that was a well-earned break,” she explained. “But I wanted to hint at the possibilities of her heart reopening in the future, and so we conceived of this one-off episode and this character who would make her feel, I think she says in the end of that episode, ‘I felt the way I felt with Derek, I felt things I haven’t felt in a really long time.’ It was really designed for that purpose, to say she’s capable of feeling, and then I started to see the dailies, and I think I started calling Scott’s team, going, ‘But what if he came back, when might he come back?’ I called several times, but he was making movies and doing things.”
More to Nick
“He’s very charming, and light, and fun, and nice, but he’s an adult, which is really nice, too, and I think that matches really well with Ellen, and I think he’s a good match in that way, kind of does something to her that’s interesting,” Speedman said. “I’ll just say that I think the romantic comedy aspect of things was interesting to me. I knew Ellen could handle that, and I knew I could do that, and that was fun for me. I used to do a show, way back. It kind of reminded me of that, a little bit, and that’s a really nice suit to put back on, in a way, you know? So, I was excited about that.”
Is He Endgame for Mer?
Pompeo has hinted that season 18 could be the end for Grey’s Anatomy, but ABC has yet to announce plans for the ending. Speedman, meanwhile, will be in “pretty much” every episode, per the producer, who confirmed he’s back as a series regular. “He’s here for this season, and that’s what we know right now and what we’re saying,” Vernoff teased before Speedman added, “That’s all I know.”
What It Means for McWidow
Many social media users were upset that fans didn’t get to see Meredith and Hayes’ romance as there has been a lot of set-up for the pair since he joined the show in season 16.
“I think there is complexity. I think that she and Hayes had begun to connect, clearly, toward the end of last season. He’s a father first, and he’s a widow, he’s a far more recent widow, and I think there is beautiful complexity to be had in Meredith, once again, having two men for whom she has feelings. I think that it’s all in the timing, and more will be revealed,” Vernoff told Deadline.
Speedman, meanwhile, admitted that he wasn’t familiar with his rival long interest. “Who’s Hayes? I don’t know. I don’t know him. Who’s this guy?” he said before the interviewer informed him that he may have to fight for Meredith. “I didn’t know. All right. That’s good.”