After 16 seasons (and counting) on the air, Grey's Anatomy has introduced quite a few characters to audiences. From new classes of interns, to visiting attendings, to patients with heartbreaking stories, there have been a lot of names and faces in Grey's Anatomy's history. Plenty of people have passed through the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital — and in the hearts of the doctors who work there. One familiar face has returned for Season 16, and it looks like she might have an even bigger impact this time around. Who is Gemma on Grey's Anatomy? Richard's patient is back and could be in his life in a big way. Warning: Spoilers for Season 16 Episode 3 of Grey's Anatomy follow.
Gemma, played by A Different World actress Jasmine Guy, first appeared on Grey's Anatomy in a Season 15 episode titled "Head Over High Heels." The title was a direct reference to the injury that landed Gemma in the hospital; she tripped while drunk and impaled herself with a stiletto heel. But, it was revealed that Gemma also had a deeper connection to the world of Grey's Anatomy than your average patient.
It turned out, Gemma also knew Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) from Alcoholics Anonymous. Not only did they know each other from meetings, but they also shared a sponsor. Their sponsor Ollie (Mary Kay Place), died of liver failure in Season 14. After she died, Richard nearly relapsed in his sobriety, but he did remain sober. Gemma, on the other hand, started drinking again, which landed her in the hospital with her near-fatal accident.
Luckily for Gemma, Richard was able to save her life in surgery. Since then, she's taken on a job at Pacific Northwest General Hospital. That also happens to be the same hospital where both Richard and Dr. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) work after being fired from Grey Sloan. According to Deadline, Guy is signed on for multiple episodes this season of Grey's Anatomy in "a key recurring role." Based on the end of Season 16 Episode 3, it looks like Gemma's role will continue to be opposite Richard.
At the end of the third episode of this season, Richard was recovering from the emotional turmoil of accidentally removing a misidentified patient from life support. He tried calling his wife Catherine Fox (Debbie Allen), but she didn't answer. That meant Richard was totally free to get dinner with Gemma when she asked him to go with her. Now, that could be just a casual dinner with old friends, or perhaps it could mean something more for Gemma and Richard down the road. After all, Richard and Catherine have been growing more distant ever since Richard was fired from Grey Sloan and Catherine didn't stick up for him. So, with his marriage on the rocks, Richard could be turning to Gemma for comfort. The episode description for Season 16, Episode 5 reads, "Richard and Gemma grab breakfast together and things go awry." That sounds like it could really mean trouble.
Season 16 of Grey's Anatomy continues on Thursday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.