ABC’s powerhouse #TGIT lineup of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” finally returns Thursday, and TheWrap has put together a handy guide for for both ultimate fans before they crack open a bottle of red wine for a virtual toast with the Gladiators and newbies who’ve never seen the shows and are finally jumping on the Shonda Rhimes bandwagon. (Watch TheWrap’s mashup of 15 outrageous #TGIT moments from last year)
“Grey’s Anatomy” will kick off the night with it’s Season 12 premiere at 8 p.m. ET/PT, followed by the Season 5 premiere of “Scandal” at 9. Finally, “How to Get Away With Murder” will return for Season 2 fresh off an Emmy win for lead Viola Davis at 10.
Here is a quick breakdown of who and what you need to know before #TGIT kicks off Thursday night:
Played by: Ellen Pompeo
Who she is: The titular “Grey” and the show’s narrator.
What happened: Season 11 saw Meredith meeting her half sister, Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary) and becoming co-workers with her sister-in-law Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone), but the season’s later episodes saw Meredith dealing with the death of her husband Derek, following Patrick Dempsey‘s departure from the show.
What’s coming: With a three kids and a successful surgical career, showrunner Shonda Rhimes has said that Meredith won’t be quick to jump back into the dating pool for Season 12, but she’ll have two new roommates in Maggie and Amelia.
Jackson Avery and April Kepner
Who they are: Both introduced in the series’ sixth season, the two doctors were married in Season 10.
What happened: Pregnant with their first child, the couple disagreed about how to raise their son until an ultrasound revealed a fatal birth defect. As a Christian, April refused to abort the child and carried him to full term.
What’s coming: Jackson presented April with an ultimatum in the season finale: Stay and work out their marriage troubles or re-enlist as an Army doctor, where she was truly happy.
Callie Torres and Arizona Robbins
Played by: Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw
Who they are: Orthopedic surgeon and Chief of Pediatric Surgery
What happened: Following the revelation that Arizona slept with another women and subsequent failed attempts at couple’s counseling, the fan favorite couple split at the end of Season 11.
What’s coming: Both characters will find new romance in the new season, leading to some tension as they continue to co-parent their daughter Sophia.
Played by: Chandra Wilson
Who she is: The no-nonsense attending physician and protege to James Pickens, Jr.’s Richard Weber
What happened: Following the departure of Sandra Oh‘s Christina Yang, Bailey beat out Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) to take her seat on the hospital’s board of directors.
What’s coming: Bailey will vie to replace Richard in the position of Chief of Surgery in Season 12, but she’ll face competition from some of her co-workers, including April.
Played by: Justin Chambers
Who he is: The only other remaining member of the show’s original group of interns, Alex has grown to become one of Meredith’s closest friends
What happened: After he convinced Meredith to return to Seattle following the death of her husband and the birth of her third child, Alex’s girlfriend balked at the proposition of the newly widowed doctor moving in with them in the house that used to belong to Meredith’s mother.
What’s coming: Alex and Jo Wilson, played by Camilla Luddington, bought a house together in the Season 11 finale, putting to rest issues of Meredith feeling like a third wheel in their relationship.
Played by: Kerry Washington
Who she is: Former White House adviser and Washington “fixer.”
What happened: Olivia’s battle with her father, Rowan/Eli Pope came to a head in the show’s fourth season. After his secretive organization B613 is shut down in the fourth season finale, Olivia finally gets the best of her father by having him jailed for embezzlement.
What’s coming: In the Season 4 finale, Olivia shared a romantic kiss with the president on the White House’s Truman balcony, leading the tortured couple to finally declare their love for one another.
Who they are: The associates in Pope & Associates who follow Olivia into battle: Abby Whelan (Stanchfield), Quinn Perkins (Lowes), Huck (Diaz) and U.S. Attorney General David Rosen (Malina).
What happened: Season 4 saw Pope & Associates shuttered, and the Gladiators gone their separate ways, including Abby serving as White House press secretary and Huck working at an electronics store. Upon Olivia’s return, they rejoin forces to take down B613.
What’s coming: Rhimes has said that Season 5 will feature the reconstruction of Pope & Associates, returning to the show’s original dynamic.
Mellie and Fitzgerald Grant
Played by: Bellamy Young and Tony Goldwyn (pictured)
Who they are: The President and First Lady of the United States
What happened: Following Mellie’s election to the Senate and the revelation that she gave the names of the grand jurors in the B613 trial to Rowan, leading to their murders, Fitz kicked Mellie out of the White House in the Season 4 finale.
What’s coming: With Mellie’s stated desire to seize the presidency and Fitz’s new dedication to Olivia, the couple’s relationship is as antagonistic as ever, and Season 5 will see the President finally ask for a divorce.
Played by: Jeff Perry
Who he is: The President’s power-hungry Chief of Staff
What happened: Fitz finally gave the scheming political animal the boot in the Season 4 finale, firing the man behind many of the White House’s machinations.
What’s coming: Elizabeth North (Portia de Rossi) has taken Cyrus’ job as Chief of Staff, leaving the President’s “Pitbull” on the outs.
“How to Get Away With Murder”
Played By: Viola Davis
Who she is: Law professor and mentor to the show’s younger characters. Smart, conniving and mysterious, Annalise can usually be found pulling the strings, manipulating those around her to ensure things play out in her favor.
What happened: In Season 1, Annalise helped her students cover up the death of her cheating husband Sam, who was responsible for the murder of Lila Stanguard, the college student he accidentally impregnated. She also took up the defense of Rebecca Sutter when she found herself blamed for the sorority girl’s death.
What’s coming: Annalise will come face-to-face with a mysterious character from her past, played by Famke Janssen, in the first episode of Season 2.
The Keating Five
Played By: Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Aja Naomi King (pictured), Karla Souza and Matt McGorry
Who they are: Annalise’s students/interns: The flippant cutthroat Connor Walsh (Falahee), uptight prom queen Michaela Pratt (King), soft-spoken Ivy Leaguer Laurel Castillo (Souza), loud-mouthed bro Asher Millstone (McGorry) and leader of the pack Wes Gibbens (Enoch).
What happened: Wes killed Sam while defending Rebecca, and the Keating Five (minus Asher) cover up the body, and Annalise protected them by framing the police officer she was sleeping with. Though toward the end of the first season, they began to suspect that she wasn’t as innocent as they originally believed.
What’s coming: In the first season finale, Rebecca’s body was found in Annalise’s basement, where she was being held captive by the students. The show has promised to reveal the identity of her killer in the first episode back.
Bonnie Winterbottom and Frank Delfino
Played by: Liza Weil (pictured) and Charlie Weber
Who they are: Annalise’s associates and gophers.
What happened: An attraction to Annalise’s husband briefly put Bonnie at odds with her boss, but by the end of the first season she’s back on Team Keating. Frank, who is frequently tasked with doing Annalise’s dirty work (planting evidence, cleaning up bodies) was revealed to be the killer who strangled Lila at Sam’s command.
What’s coming: As of the conclusion of the first season, Frank is the only person other than Annalise who knows about Rebecca’s body. The muscle of Keating & Associates swears he isn’t behind it, but he’s her prime suspect.
Relive 15 outrageous Shondaland moments:
15. Jake vs. Fitz
Jake (Scott Foley) compares his “equipment” to that of the president’s, telling Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington): “I am the one you like to ride. I’m the one who makes you moan. I’m the one who reaches you in places he can’t begin to touch.”
14. How to get away with … extra credit
After Laurel (Karla Souza) gets a job offer from her boyfriend, Frank (Charlie Weber) tries his damnedest to keep her from leaving. Translation: Laurel and Frank get down to business right on Annalise Keating’s (Viola Davis) porch. The steamy sex scene had fans cheering … and secretly hoping Laurel finally dumps her boyfriend for good old-fashioned bad boy Frank.
13. Don’t mess with Red
It’s been a rough season for Abby (Darby Stanchfield). The new press secretary for President Grant (Tony Goldwyn) — simply known as “Red” — couldn’t seem to find her footing. When her abusive ex-husband shows up in Washington, Abby becomes paralyzed with fear. But then she comes back to her senses, gets a gun, and goes all Gladiator on his ass.
12. The naked truth
All hail to first lady Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young), who, without a hint of apology, tells her husband she’s let herself go below the belt: “One thing I do not do now is wax. It’s 1976 down there.” After losing her child, Mellie runs around the halls of the White House in Uggs, a robe and a shirt that’s “only been worn twice in a row.” But even while she’s grieving, “Scandal’s” first lady still manages to throw some grade-A shade.
11. Voodoo penis
Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) has no problem sleeping with anything that moves … if it can score him points with his boss Annalise Keating. His talents in the bedroom are so legendary, his tricks always come back for more. When Asher (Matt McGorry) notices a guy salivating over Connor, even though Connor didn’t recognize him, Asher can’t help but be impressed. “What do you have, some kind of voodoo penis?” he asks Conner. Connor’s mischievous smile makes it clear the question is rhetorical.
10. Sex, lies and videotape
President Fitzgerald Grant asks Pope to find and delete his daughter’s sex tape before it goes viral. Making matters worse, the first daughter can’t remember who she had sex with. Pope not only fixes the problem, but she delivers one of the best lines in TV history. She calls Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry) to tell him she just saw the tape. And it’s not just any old sex tape … it’s “the dirtiest sex tape I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”
9. Someone have a gay fiancé?
Poor Michaela (Aja Naomi King). As hard as she tries to one-up Connor, it just doesn’t seem to work. When she asks him whether he has daddy issues, Conner shoots back one of his all-time classics: “Someone have a gay fiancé?” Turns out, she does.
8. Smelly Mellie
There’s only so much a man can take. When the first lady has a hard time getting over her grief, Fitz let’s her know he’s had enough. In one of the best ShondaLand monologues, Fitz tells Mellie he may have put up with “Drunk-Mellie,” “Smelly-Mellie,” “Screw-Everything-to-Hell Mellie” and “Eat-Everything-That’s-Not-Nailed-Down Mellie,” but he’s not about to be lectured by the likes of her now.
7. Black Hair 101
Dr. McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) doesn’t get why people keep staring at him and his adopted African-American daughter. It’s the 21st century after all. But just as he’s about to give some nosy white woman a piece of his mind, Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) takes him aside for some “Black Hair 101”: “Daddy has nice hair,” she tells McDreamy. “Maybe perfect hair. And for whatever reason, his daughter’s hair is 31 flavors of wrong. It’s hard on the eyes,” she tells him. And then she finishes with a line only Bailey could deliver: “Do your baby’s hair!”
6. Epic catfight
In what was probably one of the most epic showdowns in ShondaLand this year, Mellie lets Elizabeth North (Portia de Rossi) know all bets are off. This after she discovers her lover, Vice President Andrew Nichols (Jon Tenney), is also sleeping with North. “I thought we were on the same page,” North tells Mellie. Without missing a beat, Mellie shoots back: “Because we’re both screwing Andrew?”
5. “Inside Cyrus Beene”
Say what you will about Cyrus Beene, he’s got some of the best zingers on television. When he finds out his lover, a male prostitute, betrayed him, he pummels him with this gem: “You are now the most famous gay hooker in gay hooker history. You could write a book. Sell it to Hollywood. Play yourself in the porn version, ‘Inside Cyrus Beene.'”
4. Hell hath no fury like a woman robbed of an orgasm
When Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) meddles in Dr. Herman’s (Geena Davis) affairs, literally, Herman (who’s dying of a brain tumor) tells her to back off. “I don’t know how many orgasms I have left in my life, but it may be fewer than flavors of ice cream, so I can’t spare any,” she tells her. “Stop stealing my orgasms!”
3. That eye-watering move
Connor Walsh is apparently really good in bed. So good, in fact, he has a move which involves the derriere that apparently can make people’s eyes water. No one really knows what that involves exactly, but it had everyone talking the next day. That sex scene wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, however. One Twitter user complained to Rhimes that her “gay scenes” were “too much.” Rhimes quickly shot back, “There are no GAY scenes. There are scenes with people in them.” That response had gay eyes everywhere watering with joy.
2. Bitch baby
Olivia Pope sure gives a good pep talk. When Cyrus quits his job as chief of staff to avoid a male-prostituion scandal, Pope reminds him he’s no “bitch baby.” It’s a Shonda scene you have to see to believe. So, we watched it five times, just in case. “The Cyrus Beene I know doesn’t hide in his half-empty closet and wet his pants like a little bitch baby,” Pope tells Beene. The scene then drives straight into crazy town with Cyrus repeating after Pope, “I’m no bitch baby!”
1. The top Shonda moment goes to:
There is no question this scene takes the cake. The week leading up to the episode, ABC promised viewers their “jaws will hit the floor with Viola Davis‘ last nine words.” And boy, did it live up to the hype. Davis delivered the best line in recent TV history when she calmly turned to her husband and asked: “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?”