'Grey's Anatomy Sets up Thatcher Grey's Return

Grey's Anatomy featured the return of Meredith's estranged father, Thatcher Grey, after more than seven years since showing up on the ABC medical drama.

During Thursday's episode, titled "Flowers Grow Out of My Grave," Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) has a patient who is celebrating the Day of the Dead and as she remembers those she has lost over the years, Richard (James Pickens Jr.) comes to her with tragic news about her father — played by Jeff Perry.

"When was the last time you talked to your daddy?" Richard asks Meredith.

"Thatcher? Uh, when Lexie died. I guess, yeah... why?" she asks.

"Um... He's sick Meredith,' Richard says. "He's still sober. I heard from an AA friend this morning. Thatcher has acute myeloid leukemia... He's in hospice Meredith, he has only a few weeks to live," Richard reveals.

Meredith doesn't react to the tragic news at first, then repeats the news before walking away.

"Thatcher is dying. I got it, thank you," she says.

Later, Meredith is loss in thought and tells Maggie (Kelly McCreary) what she's learned. She says regrets that she doesn't have a relationship with her dad, but doesn't know if she'd want to say goodbye considering how long they have gone without speaking.

As she and Alex (Justin Chambers) work on their patient, he tells Meredith that she should say goodbye to Thatcher before he dies, using his own case having the chance to say goodbye to his dying father as an example.

"Did that make the birthday no-shows and the crying mom on holidays go away? Did having five minutes with him after a lifetime of nothing mike you feel better?" she asks.

"I opened the door for him. I gave him a piece of my liver. I opened the door for him to get to know me and he did not walk through it," she adds. "The only time we ever spent together was when Lexie forced us to be together, and then when she died he completely disappeared, so... I don't really need to grieve him cause he's been a ghost for years."

After the surgery, her patient's family celebrating the dead on Dia De Los Muertos inspire Meredith to visit Thatcher following another awkward blind date. In the episode's final moments, Meredith sees the ghosts of George (T.R. Knight), Lexie (Chyler Leigh), Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and others and she goes to Alex's to feel better.

Perry is scheduled to reprise his role in an upcoming episode of Grey's, meaning this isn't the end of Thatcher Grey's storyline.

Thatcher was a frequent recurring character during the first seasons of Grey's Anatomy, as Meredith attempted to learn why her father had left her many years in the past.

At the time, Thatcher had married Susan Grey (Mare Winningham), who motivated the pair to start building a relationship, though that stopped after Susan died of a rare complication after coming into the hospital with persistent hiccups. Thatcher and Susan had daughters Lexie (Chyler Leigh) and Molly (Mandy Siegfried).

Meredith's father was last seen in season 7, when he arrived at the hospital with the suspicion he might be rejecting the liver Meredith had donated to him a year before, and introducing two of his daughters to his new, much younger girlfriend, he had met in AA. After a dramatic encounter with Lexie, Thatcher was diagnosed with kidney stones and quickly discharged.


Since then, Perry had been busy playing the role of Cyrus Beene on fellow Shonda Rhimes series Scandal, which wrapped its seven-season run back in March.

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.