Why Kate Walsh’s Addison Is Returning (& Why She Left)

Kate Walsh’s Addison Montgomery returns in season 18 of Grey’s Anatomy. Here’s why the fan-favorite character may be back and why she’s gone.

Kate Walsh is back as Dr Addison Montgomery (formerly Montgomery-Shepherd) in Grey’s Anatomy season 18, but why did the character leave in the first place? Walsh made her debut in the series’ Season 1 finale as a neonatal surgeon and wife of Derek Shepherd. Created by Shonda Rhimes, Grey’s Anatomy debuted on ABC and is one of the longest-running medical dramas in television history. Due to Walsh’s popularity, the star continued to play the main character in Grey’s Anatomy first spin-off, Private practice.

Walsh will reprise his role as Addison Montgomery in a multi-episode arc. However, her story has yet to be revealed. Walsh is gone Grey’s Anatomy in season 3 for his own medical drama, Private practice. There, Addison continued to work as a neonatal surgeon and welcomed the drama brought by the move to Los Angeles. This included a close friendship with Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone), Derek’s sister, who started the spin-off before heading to Grey’s Anatomy. Finally, Walsh decided to leave Private practice, resulting in the show ending with Season 6. Walsh’s last appearance on Grey’s Anatomy was for a Season 8 episode titled “If / Then”. Since then, she has co-starred in three Netflix series: The Umbrella Academy, Emilie in Paris, and 13 reasons why.

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Walsh is just one of the familiar faces that Grey’s Anatomy recently brought back. Season 17 saw the return of fan favorite characters such as Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) and George O’Malley (TR Knight) as Meredith Gray (Ellen Pompeo) battled COVID. Kate Burton, who played Meredith’s mother Ellis Gray, also returned in the Season 18 premiere and is apparently booked for several episodes. Undeniably, Addison has a history with Meredith, but the character she has the closest ties to is actually Amelia. When Walsh withdrew from Private practice in 2013, she had said she felt Addison’s journey was over. Still, this has led to an enthralling fan theory (via Reddit), speculating that Addison will return because Amelia’s struggle with drug addiction will be brought back to the forefront in Season 18.


Addison in Grey's Anatomy

During Amelia’s time on Private practice, she struggled against multiple addictions, first alcoholism before switching to pills, and finally heroin. The fan theory is that Amelia rejected Link’s recent marriage proposal because she was going to relapse. It could be a possibility because even though Amelia did not relapse in a recent episode, she has struggled due to the pandemic. This may also be the reason for Addison’s return, as the character was close to his former sister-in-law and shared that bond that went beyond family obligations. Addison could help Amelia get through her relapse and bring her back to sobriety.


Fans have long wondered what Addison was doing in the Grey’s Anatomy universe. Since leaving, Addison has been mentioned once during Season 11, Episode 5, titled “Bend & Break”. The reference occurred during a brief conversation between Amelia and Nicole Herman (Geena Davis) about how Addison valued motherhood. It should be noted that this was the first mention of Addison since Grey’s Anatomy season 8, and it’s linked to Amelia suggesting the couple keep in touch and still have a close relationship. Addison hasn’t been mentioned on the show since, and her absence was particularly felt with Derek’s death, and even then her reason for returning to Seattle was Amelia.


While it remains to be seen why Addison decided to return to the halls of Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital, her relationship with Amelia is one of the oldest relationships in Grey’s Anatomy story that spans the original show and spin-off. The relationship between the two women is strong, and if anyone can help Amelia through a relapse in Grey’s Anatomy, it’s Addison.

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