Why Thatcher’s Return To ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Carries So Much Baggage

Meredith Grey's childhood was a whirlwind of trauma that eventually lead to her signature "dark and twisty" personality, and a big chunk of that lingering resentment focuses on her father, Thatcher Grey, played by Jeff Perry. It was reported over the summer by Entertainment Weekly that Grey's Anatomy is bringing back Thatcher for a little bit of Season 15, and now it seems that his return is imminent.

Thatcher and Meredith have a less than affectionate relationship — which isn't uncommon for Meredith — and though they've crossed paths frequently over the course of the show, he definitely isn't a regular fixture in her life. Especially now that Lexie, Thatcher's daughter and Meredith's half-sister, is dead, Thatcher no longer has a friendly tie to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, and has been particularly scarce. His most recent appearance was way back in Season 7, when Miranda Bailey performed surgery on him to remove a kidney stone.

The promo for Episode 6 of this season shows Richard approaching Meredith, asking when the last time she spoke to her father was. Apparently, Thatcher is sick, though the severity of his illness is unclear. Since viewers are about to be faced with Thatcher again alongside Meredith, here's a refresher on the big points that make up the tumultuous nature of their relationship.

Ellis & Thatcher Split When Meredith Was Young

Meredith certainly didn't grow up with Thatcher as a doting father. Her mother, Ellis, took off with Meredith in tow when she was about five years old, and for years, neither Thatcher nor Meredith attempted to make contact, as far as Meredith is aware.

Richard Has A History With Him, Too

Something that's tied into Ellis' departure — she was having an affair with Richard, though it ultimately didn't lead to a lasting relationship. It's safe to say neither is the biggest fan of each other.

He Was Much Closer With His Other Daughters

Lexie made it clear to Meredith that though Thatcher didn't give the latter the great family life she deserved, he did do that for Lexie and her sister. The differences between Lexie's and Meredith's relationships with Thatcher were night-and-day, and it was hard for Meredith to watch him be such a good dad to others.

His Granddaughter Was Born In Meredith’s Hospital, With Complications

Speaking of which, the reason Thatcher initially came back into Meredith's territory was because his other daughter, Molly, was seeking the help of Addison Montgomery.

His Second Wife Died In Meredith’s Hospital

After being admitted for a case of enduring hiccups, Thatcher's wife, Susan, died while under the care of Meredith and her colleagues in Season 3.

Thatcher Is An Alcoholic

Particularly after Susan died, Thatcher had a few stints in the hospital for alcohol-related issues and was having a ton of issues staying sober.

Meredith Gave Him Part Of Her Liver

After a desperate plea from Lexie in Season 6, Meredith ended up giving her father part of her liver, since alcoholism had ravaged his.

He’s Been Abusive To Her In The Past

After Susan's death, he was so distraught that he struck Meredith when she tried to explain what had happened. This appears to be the only time this happened, and they've interacted since then, but it's still a sign that he was never truly a father figure for her.

When We Last Saw Him, He Had A Much Younger Girlfriend

Back in Season 7, as he got his kidney stones removed, his new love interest was notably younger than him, sending Lexie into a bit of a spiral. As we haven't seen him since, who knows if he's still with the woman, whom he said he met at an AA meeting.

Given that it's been so long since we've seen Thatcher, no one really knows what shape he'll be in when he reappears. There was no word of how he reacted to Lexie's death, nor any indication that Meredith has had any contact with him at all since the kidney stone removal. To say the two has a rocky history between them would be an understatement, and there's no telling what new baggage Thatcher will bring back with him.