It’s been a while since anyone heard anything from Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) father Thatcher Grey. In fact, the last time he was seen on Grey’s Anatomy was in 2011, even before the episode where his younger daughter and Meredith’s half-sister Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh) died in the horrific plane crash.
But all that is about to change. Before the premiere of Season 15, Elite Daily reported that Jeff Perry, the actor playing Thatcher, would be returning to the show in his role as Meredith’s dad.
With the rocky relationship between Thatcher and Meredith demonstrated over the years, we can be sure that his return will bring more drama to Meredith’s life. A lot has happened in Meredith’s life since she last saw her father. She has welcomed three children into her life, her husband Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) died in a horrific car accident, and Meredith has become the chief of general surgery at the hospital.
In a sneak peek shared by ABC to Grey’s Anatomy’s Facebook page, we see Meredith getting the news that her father is back in her life from Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.). By the looks of it, this isn’t good news, as Richard asks her when she last heard from Thatcher.
“Why?” Meredith asks, only to have Richard respond with, “He’s sick, Meredith.”
Beyond that, there are no clues in the clip as to what could be wrong with him, but his history with alcoholism might have something to do with it.
He was never exactly a popular character among Grey’s fans. Having divorced Meredith’s mother Ellis when the title character was just a child, Meredith never really saw much of him after that. Early on in the show, it was established that he remarried and welcomed two more daughters with his second wife, but Meredith never met his second family until one of her half-sisters was admitted to hospital.
Although she seemed to foster a relatively friendly relationship with her father’s wife Susan, everything took a horrible turn when, near the end of Season 3, Susan dies in what was still Seattle Grace Hospital after coming down with a case of the hiccups. Thatcher slapped his daughter in the face when he learned the news, and later showed up drunk at the hospital on the day of the funeral and barred Meredith from attending.
Since then, odd glimpses of him were caught throughout the show in an increasingly worrying state of drunkenness, as Lexie was introduced to the medical drama. At one point he himself gets admitted to the hospital, needing a liver transplant. Because of his alcoholism, he is not allowed onto the transplant list, and despite their somewhat rocky relationship, Meredith agrees to donate half of her liver to him.
The last we saw of him, he had met a 20-something-year-old girl at AA who he seemed completely infatuated with, much to Lexie’s disgust and Meredith’s apparent disinterest.