According to Deadline, Burton will appear in multiple episodes of the upcoming 18th season, which will premiere on September 30. She was last seen in 2019 in the Season 15 episode “Blood and Water,” where she appeared to her daughter Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) in a dream.
It isn’t yet known how Burton’s character will be incorporated into the new season. Last season, the show introduced a recurring dream beach where Meredith, who was battling COVID-19, reunited with characters that had passed away. This included Derek Shepherd, George O’Malley, Mark Sloan, and Meredith’s sister Lexie.
Burton, who joined Grey’s Anatomy in Season 1, has featured in a total of 23 episodes and received two Emmy nominations for her role. Her character Ellis, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, died in the third season but has made guest appearances in several future episodes in flashbacks and dream sequences.
Production began on the 18th season on Wednesday. “Guess what time it is?” Pompeo wrote on her Instagram Story alongside a video of her back in the Grey’s makeup chair. Pompeo’s contract with the show expires at the conclusion of Season 18.
Despite speculation of the 18th season being the last, TVLine reports that ABC is hopeful of at least one more season. The long-running medical drama remains the network’s highest-rated and most-watched scripted series, and ABC bosses are said to be pushing for the show’s stars to sign up for a 19th season.
Grey’s Anatomy, Season 18 Premiere, Thursday, September 30, 9/8c, ABC