earlier reports that he would not be returning to the ABC medical drama.
Knight's screentime as Dr. George O'Malley had been noticably reduced during the past season. Grey's creator and showrunner Shonda Rhimes has said that the change in the character's screentime was done intentionally so that fans would not find it odd when O'Malley was missing from much of the season finale episode. In a stunning twist, fans and O'Malley's fellow Seattle Grace doctors learned that he had been admitted to the hospital as a patient -- as a critically injured "John Doe" who had been disfigured beyond recognition after pushing a woman out of the path of an oncoming bus and being struck himself. O'Malley's fate and the fate Grey's doctor Izzie Stevens were left in limbo at the end of the episode.
Katherine Heigl, who won an Emmy in 2007 for her work as Izzie Stevens, will be returning to the show. The character spent much of the past season battling stage IV metastatic cancer and flat-lined after surgery to remove a brain tumor.
Heigl's relationship with the show has become contentious over the past couple of years as her profile as a movie star has risen. Heigl went as far as to remove her name from Emmy consideration in 2008, stating publicly that the writing for her character had been so poor that season that she should not be considered for the award. In 2009 however, her character had a major story arc and Heigl stated that she wanted to remain on Grey's Anatomy.
Actress Jessica Capshaw, who plays pediatric surgeon Arizona Robbins and Dr. Callie Torres' girlfriend, will also be returning for the show's sixth season. Capshaw has been upped to a series regular. [Associated Press via Yahoo! News][Hollywood Reporter]