"I think it's going to end at the right time. We'll see when that is. But it doesn't seem like it's going to happen anytime soon," Patrick Dempsey told PEOPLE

By Christina Dugan
January 15, 2021 10:59 AM
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Patrick Dempsey has some predictions about the future of Grey's Anatomy.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the actor opened up about recently reuniting with his former Grey's costars, what the experience meant to him and his thoughts on the show possibly coming to an end after 17 seasons.

"I think it will reveal itself in its own time in the right way," Dempsey, 55, exclusively told PEOPLE of the series eventually ending. "I think that's been the remarkable thing about Grey's Anatomy. No. 1, so many doctors now have hit their 17th year. So many people have gone through their education and now are coming out the other side who are doctors, so that's one of the greatest legacies I think with the show is there are so many young doctors now in the world that were inspired by the show."

"And to me, I'm very proud of that," he added. "And I think for us getting together and honoring all the frontline responders and doctors and nurses I think is a good thing. I think it's going to end at the right time. We'll see when that is. But it doesn't seem like it's going to happen anytime soon, that's for sure."

Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo
| Credit: Krista Vernoff/abc

Dempsey's Grey's character, Derek — the late husband of Ellen Pompeo's Meredith Grey — died in a tragic car crash in season 11. However, he reemerged in this season's premiere in November, appearing during one of Meredith's dreams while she battled a severe case of COVID-19.

"I think there's a real desire for romance and true love in the world and something that makes you feel good, and I think with Derek and Meredith, I think there's something so beloved in that relationship and so special. It's nice for both of us to be able to go back and give the fans something that they were asking for in a way that was positive messaging for the whole world I think in healing," Dempsey said of the reunion. "And that's a great way to be able to use our platform and visibility of these characters in a way that's positive, so I'm very psyched about that."

Patrick Dempsey in Grey's Anatomy
| Credit: ABC

"We were so moved by it, all of us coming together, and I think you can see that through the response to the show — and there's more coming in the next few months," he shared.

While Dempsey will reprise his role as Derek again in the second half of season 17, the actor — who has teamed with Poland Spring ORIGIN, which is a 100 percent natural spring water filtered through a 10,000-year-old glacial aquifer — continues to focus on other passion projects.

"I've been working with the brand, with Poland Spring, for many years now," Dempsey said of the partnership. "They've been one of our sponsors for the Dempsey Challenge, which is a bike event that we do to raise money for The Dempsey Center so that all of our services are at no cost to the client. And what we do there is we do complementary medicine for cancer patients. We don't treat the disease, we treat the person holistically, the whole family and the caregivers."

Patrick Dempsey
| Credit: Poland Spring

"We had a discussion a couple of years ago about sustainability, the impact of bottles on the environment, and it led to the discussion. They were developing this idea with Poland Spring ORIGIN, and that's how it came about," he added.

"So it's very organic and it's been a long relationship. And now, to be able to take Poland Spring ORIGIN nationally for the first time is really exciting and an opportunity to share wonderful water and how great that is, but also how beautiful and wonderful Maine is," Dempsey said of the water, which is sustainably sourced from a single spring in the woods of Maine. "It's a wonderful story."

Grey's Anatomy returns March 4 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.