March 6, 2014 at 7:59 PM ET
Seven years after Isaiah Washington was fired from "Grey's Anatomy," the actor will return to the medical drama for one special episode, ABC has confirmed. Washington will reprise his role as Dr. Preston Burke to help send off actress Sandra Oh, who once played his love interest and is now leaving the show.
Dr. Preston Burke will appear in one episode, which will air in May. Burke's romance with Dr. Cristina Yang (Oh) was one of the show's most compelling storylines in its first three seasons. Their love affair came to an abrupt end when Burke called off their wedding on the day they were to walk down the aisle.
Washington left "Grey's Anatomy" in June 2007 after reports leaked out in the show's third season of an on-set altercation with co-star Patrick Dempsey. Washington reportedly used homophobic slurs in reference to gay cast member T.R.Knight. Months later, when the show won a Golden Globe, Washington denied the incident but repeated the slur, further stoking the controversy.
Show creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes and ABC then opted not to renew his contract, but now Rhimes says it's essential that Washington's character return.
“It’s important to me that Cristina’s journey unfolds exactly as it should. Burke is vital to that journey — he gives her story that full-circle moment we need to properly say goodbye to our beloved Cristina Yang,” Rhimes told Deadline, which first reported Washington's return.