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Sean Donely was a fictional character on the popular ABC soap opera General Hospital.

He was portrayed by actor John Reilly from October 31, 1984 to February 24, 1995 and October 13 & 14, 2008 on the 2-part season 2 (and series) finale of the General Hospital spinoff, General Hospital: Night Shift. He last returned to GH on August 9 & 12, 2013.

Sean was married to Tiffany Hill, with whom he has a daughter named Anna "Annie" Donely. Anna was named after Sean and Tiffany's close friend Anna Devane.

A tribute to Sean Donely

The actor passed away on January 9, 2021.[6] A full tribute episode to Sean was planned to be aired in Spring 2021.[7] The tribute episode aired on May 21, 2021 and involved Sean’s death.[8]


In 1984, Luke Spencer was on the run from murder charges and called his best friend Robert Scorpio for help. Robert sent Luke to an old friend of his, Sean Donely, who was Robert's boss from his old WSB days. Regrettably for Robert and Luke, Sean was actually after the Aztec treasure himself.

Sean who had previously gone into retirement got bored with the retired life and craved the excitement of going up against the challenge of another experienced spy - and that challenge came in the form of Robert. Sean kidnapped those close to Robert, however his plan to get a little excitement went terribly wrong when he thought that he killed Robert in the process.

Sean was devastated, but when Robert turned up alive and well, Sean was so ecstatic that he didn't even fight Robert when he came to arrest him. Sean and Robert made amends when he helped Robert defeat the evil Mr. Wu in the Asian Quarter adventure. In return for helping him protect his family, Robert made Sean, his daughter Robin's godfather.

Robin Scorpio is Robert's daughter with Anna Devane. Sean happily accepted and took his job as Robin's godfather very seriously. During this time, Sean also took a liking to Dr. Monica Quartermaine and the two began to have a love affair, that was angrily opposed by both Edward Quartermaine and Monica's on and off love Alan Quartermaine.

Sean and Tiffany wed

In 1987, Sean was put on a hit list, made by a group of terrorists that were targeting spies. Due to his occupation as former head of the WSB, Sean was next up on their hit list and his good friend Robert, returned to Port Charles to help protect him, his family and friends. With the help of Anna, Tiffany Hill, and Duke Lavery, Robert and Sean traveled with them to Mt. Rushmore and the group was able to stop and catch the rogue terrorist group and their leader.

In 1988 Sean started to suffer from a mid-life crisis. During this time he fell for Dr. Greta Ingstrom, but her husband resurface, so Sean went back to his past love Tiffany, who was unhappy with his wandering ways. Sean and Tiffany were able to work out their differences and the two were married in the Quartermaine mansion amongst friends and family. After the wedding, Sean assists his friend Felicia Jones in tracking down her husband Frisco's grave after she was informed that he had been killed.

Sean's insidious past came back to bite him in the form of his arch-nemesis Cesar Faison who arrived in Port Charles in 1990. Through flashbacks, it was revealed that the two had plotted to destroy Robert and Anna's marriage back in their WSB days. Back when Sean was head of the WSB, he successfully worked with rival spy agency leader Cesar Faison to break the Scorpios apart. This was because Sean feared he was going to lose his two best agents to a life of wedded bliss outside the agency.

Robert and Anna found out the truth, but nevertheless, Sean still helped his friends defeat Faison, before he could force Anna into marrying him. Cesar took his revenge on Sean in 1991, when he poisoned Sean's wife Tiffany with a mysterious illness that left her comatose. Cesar held the only cure and used this as leverage to made Sean do his bidding, though at the time Sean didn't realize that Cesar was behind Tiffany's illness. When Sean found out that Cesar was behind everything, he once again teamed up with Robert and Anna to bring him down.

Sean and good friend Anna

In 1992, Sean agreed to serve as acting Police Commissioner while Robert left to pursue Faison, and assumed the position of permanent PCPD Commissioner when Robert and Anna are presumed dead from a boat explosion that occurred when they were trying to stop Faison. Sean split his time between comforting his grieving goddaughter Robin, and dealing with his nemesis Luke, who arrived back in town in 1993 and gave Sean nothing but grief. On the personal front, his marriage began to fall apart, when his wife Tiffany became obsessed with adopting her deceased sister Cheryl Stansbury's son Lucas. Unfortunately, Cheryl's will left custody of Lucas to Bobbie Spencer and Dr. Tony Jones.

As their marriage fell apart over the adoption dilemma, Sean began an affair with lawyer Jessica Holmes. In the meantime, Tiffany is thrilled when she discovers that she is pregnant, but is crushed just as quickly when she overhears Jessica tell Sean that she is pregnant as well. Sadly, Tiffany miscarries her child and at the same time, Jessica admits to Sean that she had lied and wasn't really pregnant.

Sean and Tiffany start to work on recoiling their marriage, just as Jessica learns that she really is pregnant. Jessica threatens to tell Tiffany and Sean threatens her in response, warning her to keep her mouth shut. Jessica is later found dead and Sean thinking that Tiffany committed the crime, confessed to the murder. However it was later proven that the insane Ryan Chamberlain was the real murderer and Sean and Tiffany were in the clear.

In 1994, Sean and Luke are caught in a shoot out with mobster Frank Smith and Sean is shot by Frank. Luke kills Frank before Frank finishes him off. Later that year in Port Charles Sean is accidentally shot by Luke because of Joe Scully a former mentor to Sonny.

Before Sean is sent off to heal and recuperate an overjoyed Tiffany announces to their friends and family that she is pregnant. When General Hospital recommends that they transfer him to another treatment facility in Boston, Massachusetts, Sean and Tiffany decide to leave town to get Sean the best care possible and start a new life with their child.

Sean and Tiffany returned to Port Charles in 2008 on Night Shift to help their friend Robert, who was battling colon cancer. While in town, they shared with their friends that they now had a teenage daughter, named Anna "Annie" Donely and that she was named after Anna Devane.

On August 5, 2013 Luke Spencer seeks assistance from Holly Sutton in Switzerland to determine where the extorted money of Jerry Jacks has ended up after Jax's apparent death by explosion. After breaking into the bank's computer, the money has been found to have been collected by Sean Donely.

Luke and Holly arrive at Donely's residence and they meet Anna Donely and eventually Sean appears in a wheel-chair with the cure for plutonium poisoning in his hand. It is revealed that he got shot by the Balkan. After getting poisoned he contacted Jerry Jacks, another victim of the poisoning. Sean is given a temporary cure until a permanent one is found. Luke vows to find the cure for both of them. After stealing the dose from Jerry, Luke gives the second dose of the cure to Sean.

On January 9, 2019, it's revealed that Sean has begun to lose memories of his past as he can no longer tell what month it is.

On May 17, 2021, Anna calls Tiffany and left a message to check on her and Sean, hoping they are doing well and to ask for assistance, for help developing Chase's cure. Some time later, Tiffany called back to tell Anna that Sean had just passed away, a sad and tragic message she relayed to Maxie Jones.

On May 21, 2021, Sean's Port Charles and WSB friends came together with his daughter Annie Donely for his memorial service. Offscreen, Connor and Tiffany spread his ashes in Annascaul, in County Kerry, Ireland - his favorite village. Robert states that Sean would tell him stories about the town, and that it reminded him of Anna Devane.

Crimes Committed

  • Arms dealer in Mexico, as "El Patrón"
  • Helped Cesar Faison fake his death
  • Tried to kill Robert Scorpio by trying to kick him off a skytram; failed [Sep 1985]
  • Knocked out Tom Hardy so he could give Tiffany an experimental drug [July 23, 1991]
  • Broke into Ryan Chamberlain’s apartment and planted a listening device [Apr 9, 1993]
  • Vandalized Ryan’s apartment with Felicia Jones and Mac Scorpio [Apr 19, 1993]
  • Adultery; slept with Jessica Holmes while married to Tiffany Donely [Apr 21, 1993]
  • Falsely confessed to the murder of Jessica Holmes [Sep 6, 1993]
  • Accomplice of Jerry Jacks in poisoning the Port Charles water supply [revealed Aug 2013]

Health and Vitals

  • Pinned by a fallen crate; saved by Colton Shore [Mar 11, 1988]
  • Shot by Desiree; required surgery [May 25, 1990]
  • Punched by Mac Scorpio [Mar 20, 1992]
  • Shot by Joseph Atkins [Sep 18, 1992]
  • Suffered a head injury as a result of a car accident [Feb 8, 1994]
  • Along with Tiffany, tied up by men working for Frank Smith and left in an alligator infested swamp [May 6, 1994]
  • Shot by Frank Smith [Nov 29, 1994]
  • Temporarily wheelchair-bound after accidentally being shot in the neck by Luke Spencer [Feb 17, 1995]
  • Hemorrhaged [Feb 22, 1995]
  • Transferred to Mass General Hospital in Boston to remove bullet fragments from his brain [Feb 24, 1995]
  • Shot by the Balkan with a bullet laced with Polonium-210, which weakened Sean and required him to use a wheelchair [revealed Aug 2013; revealed to have received the Polonium-210 antidote on Dec 10, 2013]
  • Diagnosed with dementia [revealed on Jan 9, 2019[9]]
  • Died from dementia [May 12, 2021; revealed May 17, 2021]

See also


  1. According to his grave marker
  2. According to his grave marker
  3. Stated by Anna Devane in the May 18, 2021 episode
  4. According to Robert
  5. She was married to Alan at the time.
  9. Jordan Ashford talked to Tiffany who told her about Sean’s dementia when she wanted to talk to Sean about Ryan Chamberlain and his current killing spree.

Positions held

Predecessor Chief of Police or Police Commissioner Successor
Guy Lewis

Robert Scorpio

Anna Devane
(1990; acting)

Guy Lewis
(1991; acting)
Sean Donely
Mac Scorpio

Family tree

Elsie Mae

External links

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List of cast members · List of current actors · History of General Hospital