Isaiah Washington returning to "Grey's Anatomy"

Isaiah Washington as Dr. Preston Burke on "Grey's Anatomy." ABC

Paging Dr. Burke...

ABC says Isaiah Washington will return to "Grey's Anatomy" for a guest appearance in May, seven years after he was fired from the long-running medical drama.

Washington exited the series in 2007 after an on-set clash the year before, in which an anti-gay epithet was directed at another cast member at the time, T.R. Knight.

Washington's return as Dr. Preston Burke coincides with the announced departure of series star Sandra Oh at the season's end in May. Her character, Dr. Cristina Yang, was engaged to Washington's Burke at one point in the show.

"It's important to me that Cristina's journey unfolds exactly as it should," showrunner Shonda Rhimes said in a statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "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."

The date of Washington's episode was not announced.

During the controversy involving him, Washington also used the epithet backstage at the 2007 Golden Globe awards. He publicly apologized and tried to make amends by meeting with gay-rights organizations.

"Grey's Anatomy" is currently in its 10th season.

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