'Grey's Anatomy' season finale recap: Derek makes a shocking return

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'Grey's Anatomy': Derek Shepherd's Final Message


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We don't think we've ever seen a season finale of Grey's Anatomy without a cliffhanger, but season 11 came to a calm close on May 14. There were no deaths, no runaway brides or major disasters, but we did get a surprise appearance by Patrick Dempsey. Is Derek really alive? Find out.

'Grey's Anatomy' Season Finale: Derek Returns — Season 11 Episode 24 Recap

We kid, we kid. Derek is not alive. (Too soon?) Sorry. But Patrick did make an appearance in tonight's new episode. In fact, his scene consisted of a flashback in the form of a voicemail message, and it was totally new. So in a way, we did get to feel the presence of Derek again. And it felt so good.

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'Grey's Anatomy' season finale recap: Derek makes a shocking return
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 19: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Staring at the Sun' - The O'Malley Family visits George at the hospital, Meredith is determined to have a more positive outlook on life, Derek and Addison strive for a civil relationship, and Richard endeavors to reunite with his wife, Adele, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Karen Neal/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 14: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Time Has Come Today' - The doctors of Seattle Grace help Izzie cope with the loss of her fiancé, Denny, and her decision to quit the internship program. Meredith must decide what the future holds after her hospital liaison with Derek. The Chief is confronted by his wife, Adele, after spending the night in his office, and George seeks relationship advice from a surprising source, on the season premiere of 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ron Tom/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'I Want You With Me' - 'Grey's Anatomy' returns for its monumental tenth season with a two-hour event, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. In the second hour, 'I Want You With Me' (10:00-11:00 p.m.), the fight continues to save those affected by the storm, Callie makes a bold decision regarding her relationship, and the doctors come together upon receiving devastating news. (Photo by Danny Feld/ABC via Getty Images) PATRICK DEMPSEY, ELLEN POMPEO
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 08: GREY'S ANATOMY- 'Here Comes the Flood' - A plumbing leak becomes a deluge and wreaks havoc at Seattle Grace, as the Chief attempts to implement new teaching policies and George tries to retake his residency exam; meanwhile Derek hopes to move the roommates out of Meredith's house, to their surprise, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 17: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'The Becoming' - The nurses' objections to McSteamy's trysts lead to the instating of a new 'date and tell' policy. Meanwhile news of Burke's latest career achievements force Cristina to face her feelings for her ex, Meredith and Derek admit a veteran soldier into their clinical trial, and Callie turns to Sloan in her time of need, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 8 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Vivian Zink/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Can't Fight Biology' - Things are hostile on all fronts when a visit to the obstetrician results in some disturbing news for Meredith and Derek, and Lexie loses it when she notices Meredith and April getting closer. Meanwhile a car crash brings in multiple traumas and Jackson tries using his physical attributes to get ahead in the operating room, while Cristina's self-doubt carries outside of the hospital and into her house hunting with Owen, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images) PATRICK DEMPSEY, ELLEN POMPEO
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 28: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'There's No 'I' in Team' - Bailey heads up a team of surgeons performing a 'domino procedure' in which each surgery hinges on the one preceding it; Derek gets sole credit for the brain tumor study he did with Meredith; Lexie goes to great lengths to have George notice her romantically, and Sloan counsels a desperate Callie on the ways of love, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Shock to the System' -- After weeks of concealing the fact she was pregnant and miscarried, Meredith at last tells Derek and is finally cleared to return to her surgical duties in the wake of the hospital shooting spree; Cristina experiences post-traumatic stress disorder in the midst of an operation; and Bailey refuses to let Alex operate until he agrees to have the bullet in his chest removed, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) PATRICK DEMPSEY, ELLEN POMPEO
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 08: GREY'S ANATOMY- 'Here Comes the Flood' - A plumbing leak becomes a deluge and wreaks havoc at Seattle Grace, as the Chief attempts to implement new teaching policies and George tries to retake his residency exam; meanwhile Derek hopes to move the roommates out of Meredith's house, to their surprise, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 15: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'What a Difference a Day Makes' - As Meredith, Derek and all of their friends prepare for the big wedding, a group of college students, injured in a car crash as they were heading to their graduation ceremony, is admitted to the ER. Meanwhile, Izzie fears the worst when she begins experiencing familiar symptoms, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 7 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Scott Garfield/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Superfreak' - When Derek receives an unexpected and unwelcome visit from his estranged sister, Amelia, issues between the siblings -- both past and present -- come to the surface; the Chief tries to help Alex when he notices that he's refusing to use the elevators after his near-fatal shooting; and Meredith and Derek continue their efforts to ease Cristina back into surgery after her post-traumatic stress, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images) PATRICK DEMPSEY, ELLEN POMPEO, CATERINA SCORSONE
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 14: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Time Has Come Today' - The doctors of Seattle Grace help Izzie cope with the loss of her fiancé, Denny, and her decision to quit the internship program. Meredith must decide what the future holds after her hospital liaison with Derek. The Chief is confronted by his wife, Adele, after spending the night in his office, and George seeks relationship advice from a surprising source, on the season premiere of 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ron Tom/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - ABC's 'Grey's Anatomy' stars Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey and Patrick Dempsey as Dr. Derek Shepherd. (Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 28: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'There's No 'I' in Team' - Bailey heads up a team of surgeons performing a 'domino procedure' in which each surgery hinges on the one preceding it; Derek gets sole credit for the brain tumor study he did with Meredith; Lexie goes to great lengths to have George notice her romantically, and Sloan counsels a desperate Callie on the ways of love, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images)
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But let's backtrack a bit, so we can explain what else happened in the season finale.

Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) still hasn't decided if she's going to sell her and Derek's house, but she did push Alex (Justin Chambers) to talk to Jo (Camilla Luddington) about her moving back into her old house. And when he did, Jo freaked out a bit. Apparently, Jo doesn't want to live with a bunch of kids if they're not her own. Instead, Jo proposes that she and Alex sell the house back to Meredith and move into a loft — one that needs a ton of work.

'Grey's Anatomy': Jo Declares Her Love for Alex


Elsewhere, April (Sarah Drew) told Jackson (Jesse Williams) that she wants to go on another tour of duty because when she was away, she felt alive. She said it was the first time, since their baby died, that she's felt that way. Jackson seemed super proud of her and gave his blessing, but then he said if she goes, he won't be there when she gets back. April cried a bit and couldn't believe he said that. She then weeped harder while talking to Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) about it at Richard (James Pickens Jr.) and Catherine's (Debbie Allen) wedding. (Yes — they got married, but they're so boring that it's only worth mentioning in one sentence.)

'Grey's Anatomy': The End of April and Jackson?

And in an effort to give Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) some closure after Derek's death, Meredith let her sister-in-law listen to an old voicemail he left before he died. It's when she listened to it, while holding Owen's (Kevin McKidd) hand, that we saw the new Derek scene. He seemed to be leaving Meredith a message while riding a ferry boat.

Miranda Bailey: The Next Chief Of Surgery?

Other minor tidbits: Bailey (Chandra Wilson) is in the running to become the next chief of surgery, and Maggie's (Kelly McCreary) parents are getting divorced.

The episode actually ended on somewhat of a high note, as Meredith was seen dancing with all of her friends and family, following the wedding, inside the house that Derek built.

What do YOU think? Should Jackson and April break up? Are you upset there wasn't a big cliffhanger? Vote in our poll and tell us how you feel!

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