Born in 1941 in Beckindale, Tom and his sister lost their father at a young age and their mother bought them up. She had died by April 1964 when Tom wed Pat, who was only just pregnant. Pat tricked Tom into thinking the baby was theirs. For years, as Tom's son Jackie got older, Tom noticed he bore a resemblance to Jack Sugden, the man she had just split up with when she swiftly married Tom. Tom was known to be lazy, and also could be rebellious.
In 1972, Tom was looking for work and got a labourers job at Emmerdale Farm. Tom was lazy and inept, and left all the work to Matt Skilbeck. Tom tried to blackmail Jack Sugden over him possibly being Jackie's father. Pat asked Jack to sack Tom from Emmerdale, which he did, giving him 2 weeks wages. The Merrick's then left for Leeds to stay with an aunty. This was an attempt for Pat to go with the children and her. However, Tom and Pat had a row which resulted in Tom leaving Pat in 1974 and taking the children, however, they reconciled.In 1980, Pat moved back to Beckindale to, yet again, escape Tom who was abusing her.
Tom visited the village again in December of that year to cause more trouble for Pat. Tom and his pal Derek Warner stole Christmas trees from Home Farm. However, the pair ended up knocking down and leaving Joe Sugden in a ditch, but they were never caught. Tom tried to frame Jack by having a friend of his burn down a barn at Home Farm but Jack had a watertight alibi. Tom left the village after. Pat and Tom ended up divorcing that year.
In January 1982, Tom found out that Jack was indeed Jackie's real father. Tom even got into a couple of fights with Jack. Jackie was furious at Pat and refused to spend any time with Jack or even acknowledge him, and wanted to go to Scotland with Tom when Tom was offered a job on the oil rigs. However, Tom convinced Jackie to give Jack a chance, despite not liking Jack himself.
When Sandie became pregnant with her and Andy Longthorn's baby in 1983, Sandie went to temporarily live with Tom in Scotland. In November 1983, she gave birth to Louise Merrick who she put up for adoption. Tom returned to the village with Sandie in March 1984, however Derek also followed. Derek convinced Tom to go poaching with him, stealing fish from the Home Farm Fish Farm and killing them with explosives. However, they were caught and Tom received a prison sentence in October 1984. He was released in February 1985 and he returned to the village, but he left in May.
Pat was killed in a car accident in August 1986, and Tom returned for her funeral in September. Even Pat's death failed to get Tom and Jack to be civil towards each other, and they almost had a fight. Tom made clear to Jack that he was there for Pat, Jackie and Sandie - not him. In January 1988, Tom surprised Jackie by turning up unexpectedly at his stag do, and stayed for the wedding. Tom mildly insulted Sandie's new boyfriend Phil Pearce. In February 1988, Tom returned to Scotland, never to return to Beckindale. In May 1989, Sandie went to live near her father in Scotland.
Tom did not return for Jackie's funeral when Jackie was killed in a shooting accident in August 1989.
"'Ere you are then." (First line)
"Remember. Think of No 1. And be good." (Final line)