Meredith's family history on Grey's Anatomy has been a little messy over the years. Her relationship with her mom had its ups and downs and she barely saw her dad. When he did show up, it was to have awkward family dinners or blame Meredith for his wife's death during surgery. Like I said, messy. Now he's about to make another appearance in her life, but when will Meredith’s dad return to Grey’s Anatomy? Hopefully his return doesn't have anything to do with yet another long lost younger sister-turned-doctor for Meredith to take under her wing. Just kidding. I’m still mourning Lexie, always and forever.
Entertainment Weekly reported back in August that the actor who plays Meredith's dad, Jeff Perry, will return in Season 15 after spending several seasons away from the show. Other than that, the details have been kept under wraps, though he could be part of one of Meredith’s many medical studies. Still, if that’s the case, I’d imagine that Meredith’s dad will return to Grey’s after the season has had a few episodes to set things up for each big storyline.
Although not much is known about Thatcher’s return, ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey did tease an emotional storyline for Meredith this season in the midst of her foray back into dating. "Ellen [Pompeo] has spoken very loudly about how she doesn’t want all of Meredith’s adventures to be romantic ones," Dungey told TVLine at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. She also said that Meredith is going to investigate "a medical condition that is very close to her own family background and history." If this has anything to do with her father's side, then it could definitely be where Thatcher comes back.
Perry’s IMDB profile doesn't list any of the upcoming Grey’s episodes he’s set to appear in, so there’s not a guarantee that he’ll be in more than one episode. But since there’s plenty about his return being kept secret, that’s no surprise.
The first time Perry made an appearance as Meredith’s dad was back in Season 5, when she visited him after the two had been estranged for 20 years. Their first meeting didn't go so well and she left after he had no explanation for failing to reach out to her after Meredith’s mother left him decades before. Throughout the following seasons, he made sporadic returns to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, then Seattle Grace, for different reasons.
First, his younger daughter was pregnant, then her newborn needed surgery, and eventually his wife needed surgery as well. After she died from complications relating to her procedure, Thatcher began drinking heavily and Meredith saw the ugly side of him, all while she bonded more with his other daughter, her half-sister Lexie.
The last time Meredith — and fans — saw Thatcher was Season 7. Since then, Lexie died in a plane crash, Meredith had three kids, and Derek died in a car crash. Although Meredith had a close relationship with her mom, she was never close to her dad, on account of the fact that he was gone for most of her childhood and several years into her adult life. There’s nothing to suggest that his return will have any kind of negative repercussions, but if it does have something to do with a genetic condition, it could mean more tragedy for Meredith. I can't be the only one who sees a slow reconciliation followed by a tragic loss after he meets his grandchildren.
It’s mostly just speculation at this point, but something dramatic always happens when Thatcher returns to Grey’s Anatomy. A lot has changed, but hopefully whatever reason Thatcher has for his return won’t send Meredith down an unpleasant memory lane.