Our Top 5 Sonny Corinthos Moments From Maurice Benard's 30 Years On General Hospital

August 13 marked the 30th anniversary of Maurice Benard playing the mobster-with-a-heart-of-gold, Sonny Corinthos, on "General Hospital." He started off as a not-so-nice low-level criminal who coerced underaged Karen Wexler (then Cari Shayne) into performing at his strip club, the Paradise Lounge. However, once he gained control of the Northeastern U.S. territory after the deaths of his mentor, Joe Scully (Robert Miano), and mafia don Frank Smith (Mitchell Ryan), at the hands of Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary) in 1994, Sonny cleaned up his act. He's enforced his policy of no guns, no drugs, and no prostitution in Port Charles, making it difficult for the authorities to argue with the fact that he's made the streets relatively safe for nearly 30 years.

Over the years, viewers have followed his exploits, his many loves, and his dedication to family. While yes, Sonny is technically a criminal, he's not a bad guy and protects those he loves and, by extension, those who they love. He's currently got a truce with former mobster Ava Jerome (Maura West), who is also the mother of his daughter Avery, via a one-night-stand. Now that she's caught in the crosshairs of a mysterious gang run by relatives of her lover Austin Gatlin-Holt (Roger Howarth), Sonny has sworn to protect her and Austin, and bring down this unknown gang.

As this exciting story plays out, let's take a look at the top moments of Sonny's life that made him a fan favorite.

The Nixon Falls escapade

Although Sonny Corinthos has had many loves throughout his life and had numerous marriages to Carly Spencer (Laura Wright), the game changer was when he fell in love with Nina Reeves (Cynthia Watros). The auspicious romance began after Sonny confronted rival mobster Julian Jerome (William deVry) on a footbridge that fell to pieces beneath him, sending him down the river to the town of Nixon Falls, Pennsylvania. There, he woke up with no memory and soon believed his name was Mike because of an inscription on his watch. Nina discovered that he was there and alive and tried to call Carly who was so rude to her on the phone that Nina hung up, keeping Sonny's whereabouts to herself.

As Sonny became friends with the folks in town, even stopping a few gunmen here and there and taking down a corrupt developer, he and Nina fell in love. It wasn't until the villain Peter August (Wes Ramsey) came to town and caused chaos that everything came to a head. He tried killing Nina and her friend, Phyllis Caulfield (Joyce Guy), after tying them to chairs and setting the bar they were in on fire. Fortunately, Sonny rescued them, and in the kerfuffle, part of the ceiling fell on him, miraculously restoring his memories. While many die-hard fans couldn't get behind this story, it certainly set into motion lasting changes in Sonny's life, including his love for Nina, which cost him his marriage to Carly.

Sonny shot his own son

When Dante Falconeri (Dominic Zamprogna) first came to Port Charles, he was working as an undercover cop for the New York City police and went by the pseudonym Dominic Pirelli. His goal was to first take down the Zacchara crime family, then later Sonny's criminal enterprise. He managed to work his way into Sonny's organization, but eventually, Sonny and his enforcer, Jason Morgan (Steve Burton), figured things out. Dante believed Sonny was responsible for the death of his mentor, Lieutenant Poletti, and was about to arrest him when Sonny turned the tables and shot him in the chest. Sonny had been dating his old friend Olivia Falconeri (Lisa LoCicero) who was also Dante's mother. When she saw her son bleeding out, she ran to his side and screamed at Sonny that "Dominic" was actually Dante and that Sonny had sired him when they were teens.

Fortunately, Dante survived, and the shocking twist forever changed Sonny's life. Dante was let go from the NYPD but managed to get a job with the Port Charles Police Department. Although on opposite sides of the law, Dante has been able to separate his personal feelings from his professional work, and now father and son have a great relationship.

Sonny is diagnosed with bipolar disorder

Every hero has to have their weakness, and Sonny Corinthos is no exception. The authorities could never pin a crime on the seemingly teflon don, but his vulnerability wasn't from within his organization — it was from within himself. When his ex-wife Carly was put in an institution, he was left to care for his two boys, Michael and Morgan. Meanwhile, Emily Quartermaine (Natalia Livingston) had been estranged from her husband, Nikolas Cassadine (then Tyler Christopher), after his lookalike, Connor Bishop, sexually assaulted her. Nikolas quickly hooked up with Sonny's sister, Courtney Matthews (Alicia Leigh Willis), and both Emily and Sonny were upset at this pairing. When Sonny invited Emily to crash at his place for a time, it was mutually beneficial.

Sonny soon entered into a strange romance with the much younger Emily. However, he began to have erratic mood swings that went from extreme happiness to incredible depression and even violent tendencies. Emily realized he was struggling with mental illness, and got him the help he needed. After Sonny learned that he was battling bipolar disorder, he broke things off with Emily so that she wouldn't have to deal with his stormy world. In real life, Maurice Benard was also dealing with bipolar disorder and allowed it to be written into his character, making some of the most compelling and heartbreaking scenes on any soap opera.

If you or anyone you know has been the victim of sexual assault or needs help with mental health, contact the relevant resources below:

-The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

- The Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Sonny took in Jason Quartermaine

Although amnesia storylines aren't exactly rare on "General Hospital," there was one story of its kind that had lasting effects on the show as well as Sonny Corinthos' life. When Jason Quartermaine was in an accident that left him with permanent memory loss and brain damage in 1995, his family was so devastated that they couldn't accept him for who he was and tried in vain to get him to remain part of the family. He changed his name to Jason Morgan after his grandmother, Lila Quartermaine's (Anna Lee) maiden name. Struggling against his family's desires, a distraught Jason sat outside of Luke's club when Sonny happened upon him, introduced himself, and gave him money for a taxi to get home.

Soon, Jason began to work for Sonny, who molded the young man into the most lethal enforcer ever seen on daytime television. Sonny accepted Jason as he was, and because he had no preconceived expectations, Jason responded positively. He went on to become a huge fan-favorite, and his friendship with Sonny stood the test of time throughout all of the dangers they faced as well as general ups and downs over the years. Jason became his confidante and supported Sonny when he faced his bipolar disorder. Sonny's act of kindness and unquestioning acceptance of Jason in the moment when they met spoke volumes about his character and transformed the duo into a dynamic force to be reckoned with for over 20 years.

Sonny befriended Stone Cates

Although at first Sonny was nothing more than a gangster, the storyline that truly endeared him to the audience was when he befriended Stone Cates (Michael Sutton). Sonny had taken the young man under his wing but didn't turn him into a killer as he later did with Jason. Stone came to live with him in an apartment above Sonny's club. He was dating Robin Scorpio (Kimberly McCullough) and had contracted HIV from a previous girlfriend who was a drug user. Robin inadvertently became HIV-positive also, but Stone's symptoms worsened, despite the doctors' — including Alan Quartermaine (Stuart Damon) — attempts to help him, and by that point, it had fully progressed into AIDS. 

As Stone drew closer to death, he and Sonny shared a bond, becoming almost like brothers. Stone's vision was rapidly deteriorating, and his last act was to ask Robin to stand in the light of a window so he could see her one final time. When Sonny's wife, Lily Corinthos (Lilly Melgar), died a year later, he gave her inheritance to General Hospital to create a new wing named after Stone which was dedicated to the treatment of and finding a cure for HIV and AIDS. In 2017, after Sonny had been shot and fell into a mineshaft, Stone appeared to him, encouraging him not to give up. Robin and Sonny had also bonded over their close friendship with Stone, which is perhaps Sonny's most memorable storyline.