How Kate Walsh Returned to ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ as Addison Montgomery

Kate Walsh as Addison Montgomery on "Grey's Anatomy."
Courtesy of ABC

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched Season 18 Episode 3 of Grey’s Anatomy, “Hotter Than Hell.” 

Kate Walsh appeared on “Grey’s Anatomy” as Dr. Addison Montgomery on Thursday for the first time since Season 8.

Addison returned to the show with a dose of tough love, telling the new group of residents: “I’m Dr. Addison Montgomery, and you must be the group that’s been screwing up the program. Kidding!”

She then explains to the residents that she is there to perform Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital’s first surgical uterine transplant, and will select one of the residents to be credited when she publishes the first round of patient results. Addison’s appearance causes quite the stir at the hospital, with the residents gossiping about her former love triangle with Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey).

But when the hospital’s AC shuts down and threatens the success of Addison’s transplant, she needs an extra set of hands to finish it quickly — and asks for none other than Meredith. Working together, the two are able to perform the transplant despite the heat, and share an emotional scene in an elevator about the late Derek. After Addison shares her ongoing grief about Derek’s death, Meredith invites Addison to come meet her and Derek’s children and the two share a hug.

When Addison does meet Derek’s children, they ask her: “Were you daddy’s friend?”

“I was, yes. I’m Addison,” she replies. “But he called me Addie.” They then all enjoy ice cream together, as Meredith and Derek’s sister, Amelia (Caterina Scorsone), look on with pride.

ABC first announced that Kate Walsh would return for several episodes in early September. Walsh first made her “Grey’s Anatomy” debut as Addison in the 2005 Season 1 finale, when she memorably came upon Meredith and Derek, and said by way of introduction: “You must be the woman who’s been screwing my husband.”

Against all odds, as she joined the cast, Walsh’s Addison would go on to grow into a fan favorite — so much so that the show’s creator Shonda Rhimes gave her the show’s first spinoff, “Private Practice” in 2007. On the show, Addison moved to Los Angeles, where she worked at an upscale medical clinic in Santa Monica.  “Private Practice” performed well for ABC, and ran for six seasons. Addison appeared on “Grey’s” during crossover events between the shows.

When viewers last saw Addison, she had found happiness at Seaside Wellness, after many bumps in the road, professionally and romantically. She adopted the child she’d always wanted in the show’s fifth season. And in the series finale of “Private Practice,” Addison married Jake (Benjamin Bratt), a fellow doctor at the practice.