Grey's Anatomy Adds A Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Alum For A Character With Ties To Meredith's Family

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(Image credit: NBC)

Grey's Anatomy is on the way back to ABC to pick up where the divisive Season 17 left off, and that will involve the introduction of a new character played by an actor that fans of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist and The O.C. will know well: Peter Gallagher. The actor is on board Season 18 to play a doctor who comes in with some ties to Meredith's family. And as any fan who has been watching Grey's Anatomy for all these years knows, that can mean complications for Meredith.

Peter Gallagher has joined Grey's Anatomy to play a character who meets Meredith but knew her mom before Ellis' death way back in Season 3. Deadline reports that Gallagher's character is Dr. Alan Hamilton, who will meet Meredith in the Season 18 premiere. The role is recurring, so fans can expect to see Gallagher beyond the premiere.

The arrival of a character with a connection to Ellis Grey feels especially significant heading into Season 18 after Season 17, when Ellis was not among those dearly departed that Meredith encountered on her beach during her COVID dreams. Actress Kate Burton is returning to Grey's Anatomy as Ellis Grey for multiple episodes, and her big return will be in the Season 18 premiere.

With Peter Gallagher set to recur and Kate Burton expected for multiple episodes, it seems more than a little likely that Grey's Anatomy could include some flashbacks to whatever happened when Ellis was alive and knew Gallagher's Alan Hamilton. Burton has returned a number of times since Ellis died in Season 3, so viewers should be quite used to seeing a non-current version of Ellis in the mix.

But what will bring Peter Gallagher's Dr. Alan Hamilton in the mix, and how (or why) will he introduce himself to Meredith as somebody who knew her mom? Ellis Grey of course had a strong reputation in the medical field, but so does Meredith at this point, so she's less likely to run into people starstruck by her mom nowadays than she was in earlier years.

Personally, I'm just hoping that Grey's isn't bringing this new character in to reveal ties to Ellis for the purpose of debuting yet another secret sister. After the show lost three long-running series regulars during Season 17, some fresh blood in the form of a seasoned TV veteran like Peter Gallagher could be just what the doctor ordered, although even losing Jesse Williams, Giacomo Gianniotti, and Greg Germann didn't exactly leave Grey's with a shortage of stars thanks to its large ensemble. Besides, only one of those three was killed off.

Although there are more questions than answers at this point about Peter Gallagher's new character, what brings Kate Burton back as Ellis Grey, and how Meredith will react, the good news is that Grey's Anatomy isn't going to make fans wait long into Season 18. With both Gallagher and Burton expected in the Season 18 premiere and Meredith seemingly not heading back to that beach of hers any time soon, hopefully there's some juicy material on the family front for Meredith on the way.

Grey's Anatomy returns to ABC with the Season 18 premiere on Thursday, September 30 at 9 p.m. ET, immediately following the Season 5 premiere of spinoff Station 19.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).