Benjamin J. Grimm was born on Yancy Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side, where he grew up in poverty. His father, an alcoholic, was unable to hold a job. Much of the family's income came from Grimm's older brother, Daniel, who obtained funds illegally as leader of the Yancy Street Gang. Grimm, who idolized his brother, became embittered against the world when Daniel was killed in a battle between rival gangs. Grimm was only eight years old at the time. Within ten years, he had succeeded his brother as leader of the Yancy Street Gang. After his parents died, Grimm was taken in by his Uncle Jake, who had risen from poverty to become a successful physician. At first, Grimm resisted his new guardians' kindness toward him. But eventually, he came to return their love. He left his life with the Yancy Street Gang behind, entered high school, and became a football star there. While he was a senior at Stuyvesant High School, Ben received a football scholarship to State University in Hegeman, New York. On the football field, Ben received the nickname "Grimm Reaper."
Grimm's freshman year roommate was the brilliant science student Reed Richards, who became his closest friend. During their first meeting, Richards confided in Grimm his intention someday to build a starship for interstellar travel. Grimm jokingly promised that he would pilot the starship for Richards if he ever built it.
Upon graduating Grimm went into the U.S. Air Force and became a highly skilled fighter pilot, as well as test pilot and astronaut. In the meantime, Richards went ahead with his project to build a starship, using both his own fortune and funding from the Federal government. On the day that Grimm left the military, Richards came to him to remind him of his promise to pilot the starship.
Richards' project was based in Central City, California. When the federal government threatened to withdraw its funding from Richards' project, Richards decided to take the star ship on a test flight himself as soon as possible. Grimm was opposed to the idea, warning that the star ship's shielding might prove to be inadequate protection from intense radiation storms. Nevertheless, Grimm was persuaded to serve as pilot, and Richards' future wife Sue Storm and her teenage brother Johnny insisted on accompanying Richards' as passengers. The four friends stole into the launch facility, entered the star ship, and launched it. They intended to travel through hyperspace to another solar system and back. However, unknown to Richards, a solar flare caused Earth's Van Allen radiation belts to be filled temporarily with unprecedented, ultra-high levels of cosmic radiation. Since the ship was designed to shield against ordinary levels of radiation, the cabin interior was subject to intense cosmic ray bombardment which irradiated the four passengers and wrought havoc on the ship's controls. Pilot Grimm was forced to abort the flight and return to Earth.
Once back on Earth, the four passengers discovered that the cosmic radiation had triggered mutagenic changes in their bodies. Grimm was transformed into an orange-colored, thick-skinned, heavily-muscled, and super humanly strong "thing." Richards convinced the three others that the four of them should use their new powers for the good of humanity as members of a team named the Fantastic Four. Richards called himself Mister Fantastic, Susan and Johnny Storm took the names of the Invisible Girl (later Invisible Woman) and the Human Torch, and Grimm, morose over his new grotesque appearance, named himself the Thing. Under Richards' leadership the Fantastic Four has become Earth's most honored team of superhuman adventurers, and has saved the world from conquest or destruction many times. Their incorporation heralded the modern age of superheroes.
The Fantastic Four were not just Ben's friends, they became his surrogate family, and he was like a beloved uncle to Reed and Sue's children, Franklin (whose middle name is Benjamin, after the Thing) and Valeria. He also often assisted his teammate Johnny during the young man's solo adventures.
Over the years the mutations to the Thing's body have continued to progress slowly. The composition of his epidermis changed from an abnormally dense, somewhat lumpy but still comparatively smooth hide to a flexible, interlocking network of rock-like lumps. His superhuman strength increased considerably over time. Early in Grimm's life as the Thing, he would sometimes revert to his original human form unexpectedly. But neither these changes nor those induced by Richards in his efforts to turn Grimm back to human form ever proved to be permanent. Eventually Grimm always reverted to his monstrous, super humanly powerful form. Appalled by his appearance, Grimm was at first filled with anger at his situation, but he eventually became resigned to his fate, although he continued to be disturbed by his appearance and to hope for a means of regaining his human form that would last. Instrumental in helping Grimm to adjust to his life as the Thing was the blind sculptress Alicia Masters, whom he met during the Fantastic Four's confrontation with her step-father, the Puppet Master, and who became his girlfriend.
After a battle with the Hulk, where he had been exposed to the Hulk's Gamma radiation, Ben was permanently transformed back into his human form and was replaced in the Fantastic Four by Luke Cage. He returned to the team using an exoskeleton constructed by Reed Richards that emulated his old powers, however, he was soon changed back into the Thing as a punishment by Galactus.
Reed Richards eventually discovered that Grimm had reached a state in which he could transform from his Thing form to human form and back at will. However, Grimm feared that Alicia Masters would only love him as the Thing, for she had not known him before his initial transformation. Hence, Grimm suffered from a subconscious mental block that prevented him from becoming human.
The relationship between Grimm and Masters was suffering from strains when Grimm was transported to the distant "Battleworld" by the alien Beyonder for the first of the so-called "Secret Wars." On that planet Grimm found himself able to change to human form and back. Concealing his discovery of Grimm's mental block for fear of hurting his feelings, Richards claimed that the nature of the planet itself was somehow responsible for Grimm's ability to transform back and forth. Once the "secret war" was over, Grimm remained on the planet for months. Eventually, however, he found himself trapped once again in his monstrous form, unable to change to human form, and he returned to Earth. There, Grimm learned that his teammate Johnny Storm and Alicia Masters had become lovers, and that Reed Richards had concealed the information about his mental block from him. Furious and distraught, Grimm quit the Fantastic Four. He worked for a time as a super humanly strong wrestler for the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation, and also participated in missions with the West Coast Avengers.
Grimm was about to accept membership in the West Coast Avengers when he began to undergo further mutation, becoming, at least in his own mind, still more grotesque. Greatly disturbed, Grimm journeyed to Monster Isle, where he had first encountered his foe, the Mole Man. Now, however, the Mole Man befriended the Thing and welcomed him into the society he had organized in his underground realm, composed of physically ugly people like himself who had believed themselves to be outcasts in the surface world. Grimm agreed to help the Mole Man in his attempt to use an earth shifting machine to raise a small continent in the Pacific Ocean to serve as a homeland for the Mole Man's society. While Grimm lived in the Mole Man's realm, his most recent mutations went into remission, leaving him looking little different than before these recent mutations had begun.
The three other original members of the Fantastic Four found the Thing in the Mole Man's realm, where Reed Richards realized that by raising a continent in the Pacific, the Mole Man would trigger earthquakes that would destroy California. The Thing joined Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, and the Human Torch in destroying the Mole Man's earth-shifting machine, and rejoined the Fantastic Four.
When Reed and Sue retired from active Fantastic Four duty to focus on raising their son, they left Ben in charge. He recruited Crystal and Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura) to replace them and served capably as team leader, starting a romance with Sharon that deepened after new cosmic radiation exposure further mutated them both, turning Sharon into a sort of "She-Thing" and Ben into an even stronger, more hideous spiky-hided Thing. Their romance continued through several more changes of form (with Ben eventually settling back into his classic Thing form), even after Reed and Sue rejoined the group; but they were estranged after Sharon accepted Doctor Doom's aid in regaining human form. Ben has not yet had a serious relationship since his split with Sharon, though he has flirted with Reed's old friend Alyssa Moy and briefly dated Damage Control executive Kathleen O'Meara. When the Alicia who had eventually married Johnny was revealed to be the shape-shifting Skrull spy Lyja, the Fantastic Four found and rescued the real Alicia, but she and Ben have remained only good friends.
Ben maintained a bizarre enmity with the Yancy Street Gang, his former peers having passed down their resentment of Grimm to the next generation of Yancy punks. Over the years, the gang perpetrated a seemingly endless series of practical jokes, verbal abuse and petty assaults on Grimm, though many of the practical jokes credited to the Yancy crowd were actually played by a sneaky Johnny Storm. At the same time, the Yancy Streeters took a perverse pride in their distinguished alumnus, and were known to come to Ben's aid on occasion. They seemed to think only they had the right to abuse him. Though estranged from the gang, Ben remained friendly with some of his childhood chums from Yancy Street, including Cholly (now owner of the Yancy Street Bar and Grill), helicopter pilot Hopper Hertnecky and old high school buddy "Slugger" Sokolowski. Ben also kept in touch with his uncle Jake, who married a new wife - the much younger Petunia "Penny" Grimm - after Alyce died. Ben took a great liking to Petunia, whom he often jokingly described as a little old lady until the Fantastic Four actually got to meet the beautiful Mrs. Grimm in person. Alynn Cambers also renewed her friendship with Ben (though not their romance), seeking his guidance and support after a stroke left her disfigured and partially crippled.
Ben was once killed during a battle with Doctor Doom. However, Reed was certain that Ben could be resurrected. He convinced Sue and Johnny to join him in this quest, which ultimately led them to the gates of Heaven itself using a modified model of Doom's old afterlife machine. Persuaded it was not yet his time, Ben agreed to return to the land of the living with his friends - and the Creators allowed it.
Initially in the Super Hero Civil War, Ben was a reluctant member of Iron Man's side, until the Thing witnessed a battle on Yancy Street where Captain America's forces tried to rescue captured allies held by Iron Man's forces. Old Fantastic Four foes the Mad Thinker and the Puppet Master tried to escalate the battle, using a mind-controlled Yancy Streeter to deliver a bomb. The young man died and the Thing verbally blasted both sides for not caring about the civilians caught in the conflict. He announced that while he thought the registration was wrong, he was also not going to fight the government and was thus leaving the country for France. While in France he met Les Heroes de Paris (The Heroes of Paris), and perform a few missions with them. He was also proposed a romance by Ana�s but rejected the offer.
Ben returned to New York as both sides of the SHRA battled in the city. Ben was oblivious to either side that got in his way, choosing to protect the civilians from harm. At the conclusion of the war, Reed and Sue Richards decided to �take a break� from the Fantastic Four, leaving an opening on the team. With the Wakanda embassy in New York destroyed, the Black Panther and his wife Storm were invited to stay in the Baxter Building and along with the Thing and the Human Torch they formed a new Fantastic Four.
During the Skrull invasion, the Skrull Lyja, posing as Sue, sent the Baxter Building, with Ben, Johnny, Franklin and Valeria inside, into the Negative Zone. With the aid of the Tinkerer, Ben broke out of the Negative Zone Prison, and they were able to return home just after the invasion had ended.
Following the Siege of Asgard, Ben was asked by Luke Cage to become a member of the New Avengers. Cage assured Ben that he could maintain joint membership with both teams just as Wolverine serves as a member of the Avengers and the X-Men.
When Skadi released the Serpent, he called the Hammers of the Worthy to Earth. One of these hammers fell on Yancy Street and transformed the Thing into Angrir, Breaker of Souls. After destroying Yancy Street, the Future Foundation attempted to free Ben's mind, but he was too far gone and too powerful for them to stop. Later, he noticed Spider-Man swinging to a hospital to help a pregnant woman and followed him, hoping to make an example of him to all who opposed the Serpent. Spider-Man convinced Angrir to leave the hospital, even thought Spider-Man could have taken him down, but instead, he outsmarted Angrir, though barely surviving the ordeal. Red Hulk then challenged him, but of the two goliaths, Angrir emerged victorious and destroyed Avengers Tower.
Eventually, he, alongside the hammer-possessed Hulk, now Nul, engaged Thor and was mortally wounded in the fight. The blow was enough to bring him back to his senses and was freed completely from the hammer's influence by Franklin Richards, who broke his promise to not use his powers to save Ben.
The Kree attack and the Celestials invasion
During a Kree attack to New York, Ben fought along the Future Foundation and other heroes against the alien army, and went to Soho to see if Alicia Master was well. After the return of Johnny Storm, Ben reunited with the rest of the team. Spider-Man informed Johnny the situation here and in way of marking his comeback he draw the famous "4" in fire on the sky. He reunited with the other members of the Future Foundation and used Annihilation Wave's ships to fight Kree's ones until the Inhumans asked permission to finish the Kree army by their own. Meanwhile the other heroes on Earth where dealing with the scraps of the battle which could damage the Earth, Reed and Sue summons Galactus, who completely destroys the Kree army. That moment, the Mad Celestials appeared to destroy this universe. Although the team tried to use the Hub (a weapon of mass destruction created by the Reeds), they couldn't defeat the Mad Celestials. Then, a future version of Franklin and Valeria appeared as part of Nathaniel Richards's plan. The Future Franklin used his power to heal Galactus and destroy the Mad Celestials, saving the day. Later, the Baxter Building was easily rebuilt, Mr. Fantastic showed a new secondary headquarters called Foundation and new costumes were given to the members of the Future Foundation, as part of the reformation of the Fantastic Four.
After learning from the eye of the murdered Uatu that Johnny unintentionally sabotaged an experiment that could have allowed him to become human again, Ben was found having apparently murdered the Puppet Master; the crime was committed in a sealed room that even Reed could barely penetrate with Alicia as the only witness. Although Ben claimed innocence, his depression over recent events and the lack of alternative evidence led to him being incarcerated in the Raft. Although power-dampeners in the Raft restricted his strength to a more manageable level, he was attacked by various other thick-skinned superhumans- including the Armadillo and Ironclad - on orders of the current 'boss' of the prison - Sharon Ventura, the She-Thing. However, after confirming that he had been framed, Ben broke out of prison with the aid of Sandman, She-Hulk and Ant-Man.
It was later revealed the Puppet Master found dead was the corpse of the Puppet Master's counterpart from the Counter-Earth, and the real Masters was found alive, having being kidnapped by the person who had framed Ben, the Quiet Man. In the end, Ben was proved innocent.