Iris Dumbrowski's arrival on the Oakdale scene concerned a mystery involving Carly Tenney Snyder. Carly had found an old photograph of her father in Oakdale with a dark haired woman. Intrigued, since as far as she knew, her late father had never been to Oakdale, Carly decided to investigate who the woman was. Carly's husband, Jack, a police officer beat her to it and found the woman--Iris. He also discovered a deep dark secret from Carly's childhood and approached Iris to ask her to keep quiet. However, when Iris saw Carly, she wasted no time telling her that she briefly dated her father and that a young Carly had caused the death of their newborn child. However, unbeknownst to Carly, it had all been a ruse concocted by Iris .Years earlier, to get free of the Tenneys, Iris lied that she had given birth to a baby boy and then set it up to look as if young Carly had killed him. As suspected, Ray left town with Carly and Iris raised the child, a girl, alone. By now, Iris's daughter, Gwen, was a young woman.
Legally emancipated from the alcoholic Iris since she was fifteen, Gwen was now pregnant and was ready to give her child up for adoption. The woman Gwen planned on giving her baby to was the wealthy Rosanna Cabot, who just happened to be Carly's half-sister. Tragically, the day Gwen gave birth to a son, Rosanna was left comatose following a car accident. When the child was given to the Snyders, Gwen objected and fought for custody. Seeing dollar signs, Iris blackmailed Carly about her juvenile record and wormed her way into Gwen's life by petitioning the judge to grant Gwen temporary custody of the baby under Iris's supervision. However, Will Munson was certain that Iris was only after the baby’s sizable trust fund. To keep Will from influencing Gwen, Iris sought to get rid of him by poisoning herself and framing Will for the crime. Unfortunately, the truth was quickly discovered. During he dirty custody battle, Gwen and Carly discovered that they were sisters and the battle became moot when it was learned there was a switch at the hospital. Gwen's baby had died shortly after birth. As for Iris, she was sent to jail for her crimes.
A year later, Iris was released. By now, Gwen had married Will and was embarking on a singling career. Hoping to cash in, Iris worked on Gwen's heart strings and got her daughter to cautiously forgive her. Though Will tried to bribe Iris into leaving Gwen alone, she wouldn’t budge since she figured Gwen was her meal ticket. Soon, Iris got an invitation to move in with the couple. Knowing that Will had inherited a sizable trust fund from his mother, Iris peeked at his bank statement. Unfortunately, she was caught by Will and thrown out. For revenge, Iris tried to help Will’s brother, Adam, break up Will and Gwen's marriage. In the meantime, she gained more sympathy from Gwen by claiming that her sister had just died. When Gwen found out that was a lie, she ordered Iris out of her life.
Later, Iris's son, Cole, returned home. Ten years older than Gwen, Cole left as soon as he was old enough and never looked back. That was until he learned Gwen had a somewhat successful career as a singer. Hoping to capitalize on it, Cole asked Gwen to help him launch his own music career. Gwen refused since she was upset that Cole abandoned her with Iris when she was a kid. Already frustrated by Gwen, Cole was not happy to learn that his girlfriend, Sophie, was pregnant. When Iris found out, she wasn't happy either and gave Sophie money to take care of the situation. When Iris learned that Sophie did not have an abortion, she accused her of getting pregnant on purpose in order to extort money. At the same time, Gwen was devastated to learn that she could not bear children. Desperate for a baby, Gwen decided to adopt. Suddenly, Will's mother, Barbara, came up with a perfect solution: buy Sophie's baby for Gwen. Her only condition was that Gwen could not know whose baby it was. The other wildcard was Sophie who was very resistant to the idea of giving up her baby. Another wildcard was Alison Stewart who was a friend of Will’s. Soon, Sophie gave birth to a baby girl. Unfortunately for Iris, things unraveled rather quickly when Alison discovered some commonalities between Sophie’s baby and the one the Munsons were adopting. Suspicious, she did some digging and realized the Gwen was adopting Sophie’s baby. Alison went to Gwen and Will who in turn confronted Barbara. Barbara admitted that it was the truth but insisted that she only wanted to give Gwen what she wanted—a baby. The gig up, Barbara paid Iris off and Iris quickly high tailed it out of town.
A few years later, Iris returned to town at the same moment that Barbara disappeared. That, of course, was no coincidence since Iris was holding Barbara captive in an abandoned warehouse. After making her way around town disguised as Barbara, Iris visited her prisoner and demanded bank codes from Barbara, and forced her to write a short note to ask her family to give her time alone. Afterwards, Iris got kicked out of her hotel, and Gwen convinced Paul to let her mother stay at Fairwinds. Iris relocated Barbara to the Fairwind’s wine cellar and forced her to write a $25,000 check. Unfortunately, before Iris could leave, Emily caught her in the wine cellar. Iris tied Emily up and insinuated to Will and Gwen that Emily was behind Barbara's disappearance. Worried that Iris would leave them to rot after getting a bank pass code, Emily and Barbara rocked a cellar support beam. It collapsed on a circuit box, which erupted with sparks. Henry caught Iris strutting around in Barbara's clothes and deduced that Iris had kidnapped Barbara and Emily. The family smelled smoke at Fairwinds and rescued Emily and Barbara from the cellar. Gwen detained Iris at the Lakeview bar, and the police arrested Iris.