With 14 seasons under its belt, Grey's Anatomy has developed quite the collection of impressive guest stars. And while some characters disappear after one or two episodes, never to be seen again, others have occasionally come back for a follow-up story arc when you least expect it. Such is the case for Jeff Perry, who will reprise his role as Meredith's dad, Thatcher Grey on Grey's Anatomy when the medical drama returns this fall, according to Entertainment Weekly. So what exactly brings him back to Grey Sloan Memorial after all this time and how will his usually tense relationship with his daughter Meredith play out? That's something Season 15 is sure to dive into throughout his story arc.
As of now, very few details are known regarding the specifics of Perry's return, but it's definitely a twist that'll interest longstanding Grey's Anatomy fans. Thatcher hasn't appeared on the series since Season 7, and if you recall, he and Meredith have never gotten along very well, even back when the show originally started. As fans learned throughout the years, Thatcher was pretty much MIA for most of Meredith's life and his marriage to Ellis Grey was civil at best (certainly not the stuff of fairytales and happy endings). That made it all the more heartbreaking when Meredith learned that, after divorcing Ellis, her dad had gone on to make a whole new family with his new wife, Susan, and his two other daughters, Lexie and Molly.
Later on, there was an even bigger fallout between the two of them after Susan's unexpected death, but he popped up again in Season 7 as a patient complaining about abdominal pain. Meredith, being the ultimate badass professional that she is, managed to put her personal feelings aside in order to help him, but they have yet to appear on-screen together again since Lexie's tragic death in Season 8. Could this reunion finally be when these characters reconcile, or is there even more drama to come from this father-daughter duo?
Grey's Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff revealed to TVLine back in July that Season 15's theme will be "The Season of Love," so there's a chance that could be in reference to familial love as well as romantic love. If that's the case, then Thatcher could arrive just in time to meet a potential new beau in Meredith's life. Ellen Pompeo stated to Entertainment Weekly during a recent interview that:
"Meredith is gonna date, date, date, date, date, just like my friends who are ready to jump back into the dating world do. What does dating look like today? I think we're almost phasing out the dating apps now. I'm hearing like people are not liking the dating apps anymore. I don't know, I'm just really happy I'm not single in real life. I try to listen to everybody's stories, all my friends and even people that I don't like that much, so we can tell a story that resonates true with people who have been through something like this."
Since the passing of Patrick Dempsey's character, Derek Shepherd, no other romantic interest in Meredith's life has really stuck or amounted to anything serious, so it'll be interesting to see how that changes in Season 15. And the fact that her dad could be there to witness it makes the prospect all the more intriguing.
The lack of Perry's presence on the show is mostly due to the fact that the actor was cast as Cyrus Beene on Scandal, another popular Shonda Rhimes show. But now that the series has come to a close, Perry has a lot more time on his hands to show up as much (or as little) on Grey's as the writers see fit.
Grey's Anatomy Season 15 premieres on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.