Costars Ellen Pompeo, James Pickens Jr. and Chandra Wilson were joined by Katherine Heigl and Justin Chambers during Monday's awards show
The doctors of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital have reunited at the 2023 Emmy Awards!
Original cast members Katherine Heigl and Justin Chambers — who left the hit ABC medical drama in 2010 and 2020, respectively — joined former costars Ellen Pompeo, James Pickens Jr. and Chandra Wilson onstage at the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles to announced the winner for outstanding supporting actor in a limited or anthology series or movie.
"When the first episode of Grey's Anatomy aired in March 2005, I'm not sure Shonda Rhimes knew that she had created a show that will have a lasting influence on television and create lifelong friendships," Pompeo began.
Chambers continued, noting how the show and it's "400 episodes and counting" have become a "tribute to everyone who is now part of our family." Though, there have been "some changes over the years," Heigl added, there was "one thing that had remained a constant" — Grey's Anatomy's "incredible fan base."
"You stayed with us through plane crashes, super storms, earthquakes and a global pandemic," Wilson gushed. "And as we start our 20th season, we are officially the longest running primetime medical drama in TV history."
"And that would not be possible without all of you," Pickens continued, before Heigl introduced the nominees. "So to all of our fans and to all of you — we thank you."
While speaking with PEOPLE on the red carpet, Heigl called their impending reunion an "odd nostalgic walk down memory lane."
Though she hasn't seen Wilson in "15 years" and Chambers in "maybe 10," the actress explained that her former costars "are people that mean a lot to me."
"I miss them, so it's really nice," she added.
The reunion, meanwhile, comes almost exactly four years after Chambers, who played Dr. Alex Karev on the series, announced his exit from the show.
“There’s no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that’s defined so much of my life for the past 15 years,” Chambers said in a statement to PEOPLE at the time. “For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices. And, as I turn 50 and am blessed with my remarkable, supportive wife and five wonderful children, now is that time.”
He added, “As I move on from Grey’s Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda Rimes, original cast members Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens, and the rest of the amazing cast and crew, both past and present, and, of course, the fans for an extraordinary ride.”
Heigl, who played Dr. Izzie Stevens, departed Grey’s Anatomy nearly a decade before Chambers. In a 2021 interview with PEOPLE, the Firefly Lane star reflected on her decision, which came after she withdrew in her name from Emmy contention in 2008 and voiced several other comments and complaints, earning her the dreaded label of "difficult."
"I know there's a better way to deal with those things than I did," Heigl, 45, admitted. "I could have handled it with more grace."
"I don't actually regret leaving Grey's Anatomy — I did the right thing for me and for my family — but I do regret the heightened drama I was feeling at that time," she added. "If I'd known anything about meditation then, or had been talking to a therapist or someone to help me through some of the fear that I was steeped in, I think I would have been more calm in how I approached what boundaries I needed to create to thrive."
Still, Heigl has fond memories of her time at what was then known as Seattle Grace Hospital, and the actress said she'd "never say never" to returning to the show.
"When I look back on Grey's Anatomy, so much of it was a really extraordinary experience," she says. "It feels like a dream sometimes, all of us in it together like that. I'm grateful for all of it — and I'm so grateful that I grew up enough to allow it to teach me something."
Last season, Pompeo stepped back from Grey's Anatomy to pursue outside projects, including Hulu’s Orphan, and only appeared in eight episodes. The show also introduced a new slate of interns played by Nick Therho, Adelaide Kane, Midori Francis, Harry Shum Jr. and Alexis Floyd.
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