In October, 2018, it was announced that Jeff Perry’s character, Thatcher Grey, would be making a return to the hit ABC medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
On the show, Thatcher is Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) estranged father, and despite several attempts, the two have never been able to reconnect and improve their relationship. Over time, Thatcher seemingly faded into the background of Meredith’s life and hadn’t been seen on the long-running series since 2011, however, that has since changed.
After being informed that her father was sick, Meredith talks herself into going to see him. The two share a few moments of reflection before Thatcher begins coughing uncontrollably. He eventually regains control of his breathing and tells her that he has a few items for his grandkids. The show then cuts to other characters and during the final scene, Meredith is seen giving Thatcher’s gifts to her children and viewers learn that he had died.
Now, according to a report from TV Line, Thatcher’s death may have served a greater purpose. Writer Elisabeth R. Finch wanted to tell her own story through a character on Grey’s and in order to do so, someone had to die. You see, Finch is living with cancer and she wanted to share her own journey with viewers.
“She wanted to tell the story of her own diagnosis, surgery and survival, and I wanted to support her telling that story,” showrunner Krista Vernoff said. “So often on television, cancer is death, or life cancer-free, and so many millions of Americans are living with cancer.”
Finch’s story is told through Debbie Allen’s character, Catherine Fox, who undergoes surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. While Vernoff was supportive of her writer, she said she was hesitant to spare Catherine’s life. Grey’s Anatomy has become known for killing off beloved characters and Catherine was expected to follow the same pattern, but the team managed to come up with a solution.
“So I said to [Finch], ‘If you really want Catherine to survive this surgery that so few people survive and have it feel like a miracle, someone we deeply care about has to die. And she came to me with the idea of Meredith’s father,” Vernoff revealed.
It’s possible that Catherine may not be totally out of the woods yet, as her surgeons weren’t able to remove the entire tumor. She will have to begin chemotherapy and she still has a long road to recovery ahead of her.