Shawn-Douglas is the oldest surviving child of Bo and Hope Brady. In 1990, Shawn D. was playing with some friends at a Jencon Oil site and fell into a pipe, which resulted in him losing his hearing. Shawn D befriended his doctor, Carly Manning, who taught him and his dad sign language. Shawn-Douglas eventually regained his hearing. In 1992 Shawn-Douglas was thrilled that his father was going to marry Carly Manning. Shawn D. also became best friends with the new kid in town, Nikki Alamain. Nikki's mom, Carly, was going to marry Shawn D's dad, but the wedding never happened. In 1994, Shawn D's mom, Hope Brady, returned to Salem. Though she didn't know who she was at first, within a year Hope had her memory back and was reunited with her son and husband.
In 1997, Shawn D. walked in on a drug deal at school, and he was shot by the dealer. Shawn D. was rushed to the hospital and was okay and got by with a shoulder wound. In 1999, Shawn D. was been shipped off to boarding school by the evil Gina inhabiting his mother's body. Shawn returned home later that year, attending Salem High. Viewers were soon treated to flashbacks of his long-time friendship with Belle Black, which quickly turned into a relationship. Unfortunately, that relationship ended when Shawn talked Jan into keeping the child she conceived when Paul raped her, and told everyone that it was his baby.
After Jan lost the baby and the truth came out, Shawn and Belle remained broken up for a short time, but eventually were able to put their differences aside, and got back together. They both started at Salem University, where Shawn ended up with a roommate named Dozer, but their relationship is being threatened again. First Shawn kept from Belle the fact that he thought he'd killed his second cousin, Colin Murphy, then Belle's newly discovered half-sister Cassie DiMera was determined to break them up and steal Shawn for herself.
Luckily for Shawn and Belle, despite their problems, they were always able to find their way back to each other. When the citizens of Salem started dying, Shawn pushed Belle to get out of town to keep her safe, and to keep her from interfering in his plans to prove that their friend Rex was the killer. Belle finally returned and the two were close to marriage until Shawn's grandmother Alice died, and Belle's mother Marlena was deemed responsible for her murder. Shawn needed to get away for a few days, but unfortunately ended up being kidnapped by 'Mrs. B' (whom he thought was a friend of Alice's), and for months he was held hostage by Jan and forced to watch Belle and Philip get closer.
Shawn finally managed to escape from Jan but ended up seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. When he woke up, his memory of recent events was hazy -- he could remember Jan's set-up sex sense and Belle's moments with Philip, but not that he was kidnapped and held against his will. He went through a total personality change, becoming surly and angry, and moved in with Jan, whom he believed to be his girlfriend. Unfortunately, his personality change was so extreme that it wasn't long before he became verbally and emotionally abusive to her. And no matter what, he couldn't forget Belle, even though he pushed her away. On the day of Philip and Belle's wedding, Shawn crashed his motorcycle through the church to get to her, but he was too late. He wouldn't leave her alone, though, until she admitted that she was in love with him too.
Even though Belle admitted her love for Shawn, she couldn't forget that she was married to Philip. He had finally convinced her to leave Philip when she learned that she was pregnant. She was determined to stay with her husband, so Shawn finally decided he needed to move on. He and Mimi tentatively began a relationship, which grew into love very quickly, prompting Shawn to propose to her on New Year's Eve. Shawn's world fell apart when, only hours later, his little brother Zack was brought into the emergency room, the victim of a hit and run. Shawn was devastated when Zack died, and the only hope he had was that little Zack's liver would allow his god-daughter Claire to live.
Claire survived, and Shawn and Mimi went through with their wedding even though he couldn't stop thinking about Belle. He and Mimi were determined to have a child of their own and tried in-vitro, but Mimi lost the baby. They then decided, at the same time as Belle and Philip, that they would try again, only Belle would carry her child with Philip, and a surrogate would carry Shawn and Mimi's child. There was a mix-up in the lab, though, and Belle was implanted with her egg fertilized with Shawn's sperm, and Mimi and Shawn's surrogate was implanted with Mimi's egg fertilized by Philip's sperm. Shortly after they learned of the mix-up, Shawn ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning, where someone left a folder proving that he was Claire's father. Initially no one believed the reports, and Shawn was furious with his half-sister Chelsea after learning she was responsible, but a DNA test proved that Claire really was his little girl.
When Shawn overheard Mimi admitting that she had known about Claire for some time, he was furious, and immediately ended their relationship. Mimi and Philip decided to sign away the rights to the baby being carried by Lauren, the surrogate, and began to start rebuilding her life. She teamed up with Max Brady to find Philip, who had gone missing after re-enlisting in the army. Belle didn't want him near her initially, especially after learning of his relationship with Willow, a former prostitute. Belle and Shawn finally began to come to an agreement about Claire when she was kidnapped from a diner. This terrified both Belle and Shawn, who then came under scrutiny from social services. Unbeknownst to anyone, on the occasions when Belle would allow Victor to visit with Claire, she was also spending time with Philip, who had been injured in his duties as a marine and needed reconstructive surgery.
When the case finally went to court, Philip won temporary custody of Claire, who was legally his daughter because he was married to Belle at the time of her birth and was named as her father on the birth certificate. Shortly after, Shawn and Belle kidnapped the little girl and fled the country, with Philip desperate to find out what happened to the little girl he raised for the first year of her life. Shawn and Belle initially fled to Canada, and ended up on a boat after Philip tracked them down. They landed on a deserted island, and Claire became very ill. They finally found their way to a small (but populated) island, where they met Duck and his daughter Gabby, who agreed to help them hide.