The character of Sonny had been in various relationships with various women before the writers paired him with Carly. The only other character Sonny was paired with that reached the same level of popularity as Sonny and Carly is Sonny’s pairing with Brenda Barrett (Vanessa Marcil). Sonny and Brenda are also considered as Supercouple. Through all of Sonny’s relationships, Carly has always been a constant. Because both women have played such major parts in Sonny’s life, Carly and Brenda have always clashed.
However, Sonny was on the show for years before Carly’s arrival. And it wasn’t until November 1999, when writers for tested their on-screen chemistry. Carly at the time was married to A. J. Quartermaine (Billy Warlock) and having an affair with her mother’s husband, Tony Jones (Brad Maule). If Benard’s success with Marcil wasn’t enough proof that his pairing with Carly would be a success, the history between their families would be. Sonny’s close friend is none other than, Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary). Luke is one half of the most iconic Supercouple in the soap genre, Luke and Laura and is also the brother of Carly’s biological mother, Bobbie Spencer (Jacklyn Zeman).
CastingSonny Corinthos originated during the final weeks of Bill Levinson's regime as head writer, in August 1993 (just prior to Levinson's replacement by Claire Labine). After four years with the show, Benard left on September 24, 1997, and after a brief return in the spring of 1998, has continued to portray Sonny since December 18, 1998. In 2003, Benard won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the role. Benard has described Sonny as "unpredictable," and stated that: "You never know from one second to the next what he is thinking, feeling or planning. He's a man in personal conflict who maintains an outward appearance of calm at all times, at any cost." 
The role was originated on April 8, 1996 by Sarah Brown, who "quickly became an overnight sensation" and received three Daytime Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Carly. She won for Outstanding Younger Actress in 1997 and 1998, was nominated in 1999, and won again for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 2000. Brown appeared on the cover of Soap Opera Digest 19 times during her run in the role, and won two Soap Opera Digest Awards in 1998 (Younger Lead Actress) and 2000 (Favorite Actress).
In January 2000, it was reported that Brown would be exiting General Hospital when her contract was over in March of that year. Brown's character was put in an important storyline and the show had already lost several of its actors, including Jonathan Jackson (Lucky) and Steve Burton (Jason). Brown agreed to stay for one year and General Hospital began to create an exit in December 2000 if Brown decided not to renew her contract. Gina Tognoni was rumored to replace Brown. Brown decided to stay with the series for a month. "My contract expired today, but I will stay with the show 4 more weeks to wrap it all up for them," she said. "I am not leaving because of money issues or contract issues. I am leaving because my heart is telling me I'm done." She departed the series on April 23, 2001.
Fans protested Brown's departure, and sent emails to Jill Farren Phelps in an effort to get the actress rehired. However, Tamara Braun replaced her on May 2, 2001. In a November 11, 2001 interview with Soap Opera Digest, Braun commented on being a high profile recast: "I really didn't know about the uproar, which was good. But I was informed about it before I started working. I thought to myself, 'Holy guacamole ... I'm going into something here. But all I can do is the best that I can.' I think on some level, a lot of people were waiting for me to fail." During her tenure, Braun was the first actress to play Carly to take the character into the lead actress category, garnering herself a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Lead Actress. Braun didn't win, however, she did bring the character of Carly into a different strata in terms of the character's place on the soap. For the first time Carly would be considered in the same league as General Hospital's other lead females such as Laura Spencer, Felicia Jones, and Bobbie Spencer.
Braun departed the role on April 15, 2005, and on April 18, 2005, Jennifer Bransford assumed the role. Phelps released a statement on the recast: "[The audience] will eventually accept a new Carly, especially if Maurice is determined to make it work." During Bransford's tenure, Shayne Lamas also portrayed the role as a teenager in several flashbacks. On October 5, 2005, Bransford was released from her contract. A representative of General Hospital said, "Jennifer's casting in the role of Carly did not work out. She is a consummate actress and she's good at what she does. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors."
After Bransford's dismissal, rumors began circulating that Laura Wright, known for portraying Cassie Layne Winslow on Guiding Light, was being considered for the role. On November 4, 2005, Wright debuted as Carly. ABC Daytime president Brian Frons stated: "Carly is a complex character, and we are excited to bring Laura's talent, beauty and intelligence to this role." In November 2009, Wright signed another 4 year contract, obligating her to stay with the series until 2013. Wright won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in the role in 2011.
Sonny Corinthos is reeling from the betrayal of his most recent lover and on November 26, 1999, has a one-night-stand with Carly Quartermaine, the wife of A. J. Quartermaine (Billy Warlock). After A. J.'s brother and Carly's lover, Jason Morgan leaves town, Carly learns she is pregnant and A. J. begins blackmailing her. On May 22, 2000 during an argument with A. J., Carly ends up falling down the stairs at the Quartermaine Mansion and suffers a miscarriage. Sonny then finds criminal evidence against A. J. and forces him into granting Carly a divorce in July 2000 and they move in together. The two bond over the loss of their child and Sonny also becomes a father figure to Carly & A. J.'s son, Michael. Carly later gets involved in Sonny's criminal business when she tries to get Joseph Sorel arrested. However, when Carly overhears something she shouldn't, Sonny and Carly get married on September 18 to keep Carly from testifying against Sonny. Sonny and his lawyer, Alexis Davis (Nancy Lee Grahn) later get Zander Smith, Sorel's former henchman, released from prison, hoping to use his testimony to put Sorel away. However, Sorel finds out about their plan and has Sonny shot in front of the police station in December 2000 where he almost dies, but thanks to Carly's persistence with the doctor's Sonny recovers. After the chaos begins to settle, Carly and Sonny admit that they were truly in love and renew their vows on February 21, 2001 in Martinique.
In the summer of 2001, after a bomb is delivered to their penthouse, Carly teams up with federal agents to get Sonny into the witness protection program, hoping to save him. However, Sonny sees this as Carly betraying him once again and can't forgive. After breaking it off with Carly, Sonny is stabbed at the grave of his first wife, Lily but he survives. When Carly and Alexis are taken hostage by Sorel at Sonny's penthouse, Sonny sets off a bomb, but he is okay. He must redecorate the house and Carly believes that they can work things out. However, Sonny still can't get past Carly's betrayal and their divorce is finalized in November. Despite the divorce, Sonny agrees to adopt Michael as his own son. Meanwhile, Sonny and Alexis had a brief affair and Sonny is irate when A. J. marries his paternal half-sister, Courtney Matthews (Alicia Leigh Willis). Carly gets jealous when she sees Sonny with his former lover, Brenda Barrett (Vanessa Marcil). Carly also finds trouble after she is drugged one of Sonny’s enemies, Faith Roscoe and ends up in the bed with her business partner, Ric Lansing (Rick Hearst). Soon Carly tells Sonny she is pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is. Sonny and Carly learn that Ric was actually Sonny’s maternal half-brother and had come to town to destroy Sonny’s life, blaming Sonny for their mother’s death. While preparing for the birth of their child, Sonny and Carly would also stand in as witnesses for Jason and Courtney’s wedding. But the wedding is put on hold after Carly is kidnapped and Sonny must work with federal agents to save her. Carly was being held captive by Ric who had planned to steal her baby and give it to his wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst). By the time Sonny and Jason get to Ric’s home, Carly has been taken hostage by Lorenzo Alcazar (Ted King), the twin brother of the late Luis. Carly’s release depended on whether he allowed a shipment of drugs to go through his territory which he reluctantly agrees to. But Lorenzo still hadn’t released Carly which led to himself, Jason & Courtney ambushing Alcazar on his yacht and rescuing Carly. But Lorenzo became obsessed with Carly and plotted to get her for himself by hiring a prostitute who resembled Sonny’s late wife Lily. “Lily” warns Sonny that he is a danger to Carly and their baby and to keep them safe, Sonny buys Carly her own home, for herself, Michael and their baby.
In October 2003, Sonny realized that he was being tricked and goes to the house to tell Carly, but hears her screaming instead. Believing she is being hurt, Sonny puts a bullet through Alcazar and accidentally shoots Carly in the head and must deliver their son, Morgan. Carly fell into a brief coma while Sonny decided to get out the mob to protect his family. However, while in her coma, Carly had dreams about Lorenzo and she realized she had feelings for him. Sonny attempted to shot Alcazar and left town with Sam McCall (Kelly Monaco). Sonny explained his situation to Sam who told him not to give up Carly and their children so easily. When Sonny is arrested and put on trial, Carly tries to get Sonny to run but to be a good example to his children; he turns himself in and fortunately is found not guilty. Another one of Sonny’s enemies, Faith Roscoe drugs Carly and has her committed to Shadybrooke and then brainwashed her to hate Sonny. Lorenzo rescues Carly and she eventually admits that she has feelings for him and Sonny. Feeling betrayed, Sonny begins sleeping with Sam.
By the time Carly and Sonny were able to reconcile, Sam reveals she is pregnant. Jason and Sonny decide to alter the paternity test to make it appear that Jason was the child’s father. Meanwhile, Alexis’s young daughter, Kristina Ashton becomes sick and is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Alexis shocks Sonny by revealing that Kristina is his daughter and that Carly had been keeping the secret. Alexis begged Sam to induce her labor so the baby could donate her stem cells for Kristina but Sam refused. The stress caused Sam to go into premature labor and their baby was stillborn in November 2004. While feuding with his brother, Faith Roscoe kidnapped Sonny’s children. Morgan and Kristina were eventually returned home but Michael wasn’t and he was presumed dead. Faith’s partner in crime would turn out to be A. J. Quartermaine and Michael was eventually reunited with his family. Detective Reese Marshall (Kari Wuhrer), the woman assigned to the Corinthos case would stay in town under the orders of John Durant (Corbin Bernsen) who turned out to be Carly’s biological father. John instructed Reese to find evidence on Sonny. Sonny and Reese had a brief relationship while Carly began losing her grip on reality. Sonny had her committed and Jason’s sister, Emily (Natalia Livingston) helped Sonny to raise the boys while Carly was away.
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