Of all the former Grey’s Anatomy characters fans were hoping would return this year, Cristina Yang was at the top of the list. Sadly, the Twisted Sisters didn’t actually end up reuniting. But fear not: Cristina still had a subtle cameo in the Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 finale that you may have missed.
Season 17 will go down in history as the Grey’s season that dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, but it’ll also be best-known among fans as the season where a ton of beloved characters made surprising returns. As longtime protagonist Meredith Grey battled COVID-19, long-lost fan favorites like Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, George O’Malley, Lexie Grey, and Mark Sloan came to visit her on an idyllic dream beach. And back in the real world, April Kepner returned to have a heart-to-heart with her ex-husband Jackson Avery about his future. Season 17 was almost Grey’s Anatomy’s last season, and what better way to wrap things up than by bringing back the cardio god herself?
Unfortunately, Cristina didn’t actually show up. Even so, she did have a great but subtle cameo in the Season 17 finale. As you may recall, she’s been keeping in touch with her bestie Meredith since moving to Zurich years ago, usually via text. During the finale, Mer returned to work and successfully performed a double-lung transplant on a long-term COVID patient. When she texted Cristina about it later, her “person” replied, “Donor lungs available, booking the O.R. for tonight.” Meredith wrote back, “Don’t forget who did it first.” Friendly competition! I love to see it.
Grey’s Anatomy Season 18 is officially happening, but since lead actor Ellen Pompeo has only renewed her contract for one more season, it could mark the end of the beloved medical drama. So can fans hold out hope for Cristina to make her long-awaited return to Grey Sloan next year? During a recent appearance on The Los Angeles Times’ Asian Enough podcast, actor Sandra Oh explained why she’s moved on from playing the role. “I left that show, my God, seven years ago almost. So in my mind, it’s gone,” she said. "But for a lot of people, it’s still very much alive. And while I understand and I love it, I have moved on."
Although she won’t be returning to Grey’s, Oh did have some ideas about what Cristina is up to these days, such as checking in with her old pals from abroad and fighting to fix systemic inequalities in the medical world.
“Cristina, like I imagine all the health care workers, [would be] wickedly at the front line trying to solve the big problems,” Oh said. “This pandemic [has made] the wealth gaps … even more obvious and problematic, so [she] probably [is] attacking the systematic problems, not just the day in and day out.” Cristina stans can take comfort in knowing the iconic character is out there doing what she does best. And in the meantime, fingers crossed for even more Twisted Sisters texts in Season 18.