Grey's Anatomy: Beloved Character Dies in Shocking Mid-Season Premiere

Grey's Anatomy fans are mourning the loss of a beloved character.

During Thursday's two-hour crossover premiere event with Station 19, the doctors of Grey Sloan Memorial fought hard to save the life of Dr. Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) — who was stabbed in his attempt to pursue and expose a sex trafficker. But things quickly took a turn after an emergency surgery, and DeLuca died on the operating table.

As Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) and Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) worked together to save the young doctor, fans saw DeLuca come in and out of consciousness while visiting the same beach Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) experienced during her dream sequence while battling COVID-19.

"I don't regret it," DeLuca told Grey — who was still intubated due to complications — during the dream sequence. "We walk through our lives and we witness atrocities, see homeless people in the street asking for help and we just walk right past them. We see people who can't pay for medicine for their children. We see people beating their kids and say, 'It's none of our business.' We see atrocities on the news every day. Crimes and cruelties committed by our government, paid for nonetheless by our tax dollars. And what do we do? We just change the channel."

"We tune it out," he said. "Then we go back to work, and we pretend that what we just saw or that article we just read is somehow normal or acceptable. The people who take to the streets screaming out for change, they're written off as crazy, they're written off as extreme. It doesn't make any sense. It makes no sense. What you did, Meredith, risking your medical license to save that little girl, that makes sense. And what I did — following that women and not letting her get away with it, not letting her get away, not letting her harm another single human being. Yeah, it was dangerous, but it made sense. It's the only thing that made sense. So I don't regret it."

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Meanwhile, DeLuca's sister Carina (Stefania Spampinato) was struggling with the idea of her brother dying before Hunt and Altman reveled that his surgery was a success.

Awake and lucid, DeLuca seemed to be on the mend before suddenly taking a turn, forcing him back into emergency surgery for the second time.

"I don't know what happens from here, Meredith," he said during his dream sequence. "No matter what happens, I want you to know that I've never felt seen the way you saw me. I've never felt inspired the way you inspired me. You made me want to be not just my best self, but better. And yeah, I felt small around you sometimes. I felt insecure. I wanted something from you that I needed to give myself. But here, now, on this beach with you, I get it. I don't just get it, I feel it. I know who I am, my strength."

During their emotional conversation, DeLuca saw his mom, who was calling out to him in the distance.

"I'll miss you," Grey told DeLuca. "If I go back and you don't, I'll miss you."

"You'll be okay, Meredith," he responded. "I have to go."

As he ran over to his mom and embraced her, the dream sequence ended and flashed back to DeLuca on the operating table.

"His heart won't restart," a doctor told Altman and Hunt, who were both desperately trying to revive him. "He's been down for 40 minutes," he added, before calling DeLuca's time of death.

"I'm a little bit of an exception when it comes to having a happy place, because the hospital has always been mine," Grey said in a voiceover towards the end of the episode.

"Maybe it's because of where I grew up. But if you're not like me, you're going to want somewhere else," she concluded, as fans watched DeLuca walk off into the sunset with his mom.

In February, Gianniotti — who first appeared as Dr. Andrew DeLuca in 2015 — revealed that he would be directing an upcoming episode of the medical drama.

The 31-year-old announced his directorial debut by posting a picture of the episode's script on Instagram. The episode, entitled "Sorry Doesn't Always Make It Right," began shooting Feb. 16.

Gianniotti also reflected on his Grey's Anatomy journey in the caption of his post, noting that he was in high school when the series first came out.

"If you woulda told me then, that 15 years later I'd be sitting here. In this position, at this age. Living out my dreams, doing what I love every day. I woulda told you, you were nuts," he wrote. "Time sure does fly when you're having fun. Here's to another 15. Who knows where I'll be standing then."

Earlier this month, Gianniotti posted a sentimental photo marking the wrap of his directorial debut.

"10 days of beautiful, fast paced, red eyed glory," he wrote. "Wouldn't change it for the world. Thank you so much to my whole team at @greysabc for the support. My brother in arms and DP Steve Fracol. My writer @juliewong2017 for such a great script."

"And really most of all, our crew. Our incredible crew of hardworking men and women who every day from sun up to sundown, busted their ass to make this beautiful art," he continued. "Thank you thank you thank you. Grateful is a massive understatement."

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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