A mention of Sean Donely on GENERAL HOSPITAL leads some longtime fans to recall the glory days of Port Charles in the ‘80s and newer viewers to wonder who that guy even is! Well, Sean first appeared back in 1984 when actor John Reilly joined GH as Robert Scorpio’s old boss from the WSB. He left the soap in 1995 but made an additional appearance on the GH spinoff, NIGHT SHIFT as well as one last visit to GH proper in 2013. Sadly, after Reilly passed away in January 2021, the soap crafted a special episode to pay tribute to the actor and his beloved character to air on May 21, 2021.
When Sean first appeared, he was actually bored of retirement and wanted to challenge himself by going up against another experienced spy — namely his old friend, Scorpio. He kidnapped those close to Robert, but his hoped-for excitement turned to horror when he thought he’d accidentally killed Robert in the process. Thankfully, Scorpio turned up alive, and Sean was so relieved he didn’t even fight back when he arrested him.
Sean and Robert made amends and teamed up to defeat the evil Mr. Wu in the Asian Quarter adventure. In gratitude, Robert made Sean godfather to his daughter, Robin Scorpio. During this time, Sean also had an affair with Monica Quartermaine which was vehemently opposed by both Alan Quartermaine and Edward Quartermaine.
In 1987 Sean found himself on a hit list made by terrorists targeting spies. Robert returned to Port Charles to help him, and together with Anna Devane, Tiffany Hill, and Duke Lavery, they traveled to Mt. Rushmore and defeated the terrorists and their leader. Next, Sean suffered a bit of a mid-life crisis and fell for Dr. Greta Ingstrom, but soon went back to his one, true love, Tiffany. The two were finally married in the Quartermaine mansion before their friends and family.
Sean’s past came back to haunt him when his arch-nemesis, Cesar Faison, arrived in Port Charles in 1990. It was revealed that in the past, Sean had teamed up with Faison to split up Anna and Robert because he feared losing his two best spies to a life of wedded domesticity. The pair weren’t thrilled to learn this, but teamed up with Sean to defeat Faison before he could force Anna to marry him. Faison later tried to take revenge by poisoning Tiffany, and Sean again teamed up with Robert and Anna to bring him down.
In 1992, Sean became police commissioner when Robert and Anna were presumed dead in a boat explosion. His marriage to Tiffany began to fracture as she became obsessed with adopting her late sister’s son, Lucas Jones. Sean had an affair with attorney Jessica Holmes, and both women discovered they were pregnant at the same time. Sadly, Tiffany miscarried, and Jessica confessed she’d lied about being pregnant. When Jessica turned out to actually be pregnant, Sean threatened her to keep her mouth shut, and when the woman was found dead, he feared a jealous Tiffany had killed her. However, it was later revealed that her murderer was the notorious Ryan Chamberlain.
Caught in a shootout alongside Luke Spencer with mobster Frank Smith, Sean was shot by the villain. Later that year, Luke accidentally shot Sean himself. As the former spy was sent off to recuperate, a delighted Tiffany revealed that she was finally pregnant. The happy couple left for Boston to get Sean the best care possible and start a new life with their child.
Sean and Tiffany returned to Port Charles in 2008 to offer support to Robert, who was battling colon cancer. They also shared the news that their daughter was now a teenager and was named Anna. Sean showed up again in 2013 when Luke and Holly discovered that the money Jerry Jacks had extorted had been collected by Sean. They went to his place and met Anna Donley before Sean appeared in a wheelchair. Sean had been poisoned like Luke and Jerry, and had taken the money in the hopes of buying a cure from Jerry. However, he’d only been given a temporary cure, and Luke made sure he found a permanent cure for his old friend.
In 2019, hoping for some information about the current spate of murders plaguing Port Charles that were so similar to the Ryan Chamberlain case, Jordan Ashford called Sean to see if he could help, but sadly, Tiffany told the current police commissioner that Sean was suffering from serious memory problems and couldn’t help.
In May 2021, Anna spoke with Tiffany again and learned the sad news that Sean had passed away.
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