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Isaiah Washington to Return to Grey’s Anatomy

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Isaiah Washington, who originally played Dr. Preston Burke in the first three seasons of the hit ABC show Grey’s Anatomy, will return for a May episode after a seven-year absence.

Washington left the show in 2007 after he was accused of using a homophobic slur in reference to his gay co-star T.R. Night. The Grey’s writers wrote him off in a dramatic fashion: Dr. Burke abandoned fiancé Dr. Christina Yang (Sandra Oh) on the day of their wedding in the final episode of the third season.

Now, Dr. Burke will return for Sandra Oh’s last episode on the show. “It’s important to me that Cristina’s journey unfolds exactly as it should,” Grey’s Anatomy creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes said in a statement. “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.”

After the announcement LGBTQ rights group GLAAD issued a statement that approved of Washington’s return: “His PSA and his statements promoting marriage equality in recent years have sent a strong message of support for LGBT people.”


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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com