Executive producer Frank Valentini tells Variety that Reilly “was a huge part of the ‘GH’ history and will be honored in an upcoming episode that the writers are working on now.”
Due to COVID-19, the ABC daytime drama has adjusted its schedule slightly, but both the writers’ room and production are still working weeks ahead and are currently prepping content for the end of the first quarter and start of the second quarter of 2021.
Reilly started on “General Hospital” in June 1984, playing Sean Donely consecutively for more than a decade, through February 1995, and then making sporadic appearances as the character in 2008 (for the finale of spinoff “General Hospital: Night Shift”) and in 2013.
The character was first introduced when Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary) needed help while he was on the run from murder charges, but Sean was a force with which to be reckoned: in the 1970s he was the head of the World Security Bureau (WSB), which added an adventure element into the medical soap.
Robert (Tristan Rogers), who worked for Sean, sent Luke to Sean for help. At the time, there was a mystery about Aztec treasure under way, which Sean was looking for, and things got so hairy he ended up kidnapping a few people close to Robert. Eventually, the two made up and Sean became the godfather of Robert’s daughter Robin (Kimberly McCullough).This, along with his romance with Dr. Monica Quartermaine (Leslie Charleson), cemented his place as an important player in Port Charles. He later became the police commissioner, which deepened his ties.
Sean also had a relationships with characters including Dr. Greta Ingstrom (Kristina Wayborn), Jessica Holmes (Starr Andreeff) and, of course, Tiffany Hill Donely (Sharon Wyatt), with whom his character had a daughter named Anna (Courtney Halverson).
The WSB has been a big part of the “General Hospital” storyline of late, through characters including Robert and Anna Devane (Finola Hughes).
When Reilly passed away on Jan. 9, the team behind “General Hospital” paid tribute to him on social media, tweeting, “The entire General Hospital family is heartbroken to hear of John Reilly’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones. Rest in peace.”