Spoiler alert: If you haven't watched the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy, you should probably do so and then come back.
Another Grey's Anatomy fan-favorite came back from the dead tonight. Not literally, since, as you know, Meredith Grey is currently battling COVID-19 and has been experiencing very vivid hallucinations. First, she was on a beach where Derek Shepherd was chilling, waiting for her. And on tonight's episode, George O'Malley is hanging out on a lifeguard tower. There's a whole beach theme happening this season, along with its tie-in with the pandemic. It's all very, well, dream-like.
If you need a refresher on how George (played by T.R. Knight) died on Grey's, here's a quick recap.
Here's how George died on 'Grey's Anatomy':
George had one of the more traumatic deaths on Grey's. After five seasons, the heart surgeon (the same one who was nicknamed "007" after being the first intern to mess up — get it, a "license to kill"?) announces that he wants to enlist in the Army. Everyone is very against this, of course, telling him that he'll surely die. And while viewers were worried about Izzie and whether or not she would die, Grey's pulls a fast one: Before getting deployed, George jumps in front of a bus to save someone and gets dragged for blocks, ultimately dying at the hospital.
But the story is even more heart-wrenching than "George is a good guy who sacrifices his own life to save someone's else." George is brought in a John Doe since he's so disfigured from the accident — none of the doctors even know it's him until he traces "007" on Meredith's hand with his finger. "0...0...7," she says out loud, finally realizing that it's George. "It's George!" she cries. But it's too late, anyway. George's brain starts to swell and he's beyond saving. He flatlines.
Apparently T.R. Knight was written off the show due to friction between himself and show creator, Shonda Rhimes. "My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given [about George]. And with respect, I'm going to leave it at that," Knight told Entertainment Weekly in July 2020. He also claimed that Rhimes was against him coming out, after tabloids caught wind of an argument between actors Isaiah Washington and Knight, in which Washington referred to Knight as a homophobic slur.
"I think [Rhimes] was concerned about having my statement come out so close to the [initial] event," he said.
Rhimes responded, saying, "I said, 'If you want to come out, that's awesome. We'll totally support that.' And then he went away, thought about it, and came back and said, 'I'm going to make this statement.' I remember saying to [fellow executive producer] Betsy Beers, 'This is our proudest day here. T.R. got to come out, and I got to say to him that it wouldn't affect his character' — because he was concerned that he was going to come out and George would suddenly be gay. I was like, 'We are not going to do that.' The idea that a gay actor can't play a straight man is insulting."
Knight did struggle with the storyline, which had George cheat on his wife with Izzie. “From an outsider’s perspective, I get the [impression that] ‘He’s just a spoiled actor…he doesn’t know how good he has it. There are a lot of people who would like to be in my position. But in the end, I need to be fulfilled in my work," he shared.
At least fans got a little more closure tonight.