Sean McNamara (Nip/Tuck)

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Sean McNamara
Sean McNamara (Nip Tuck).jpg
First appearancePilot - McNamara/Troy (episode 1.01)
Last appearanceHiro Yoshimura (episode 6.19)
Created byRyan Murphy
Portrayed byDylan Walsh
OccupationPlastic Surgeon
FamilyTom McNamara (father)
Kathleen McNamara (mother)
Brendan McNamara (brother)
SpouseJulia Noughton (divorced twice)
Teddy Rowe (widowed)
ChildrenMatt McNamara (legal son)
Annie McNamara (daughter)
Conor McNamara (son)
Raphael McNamara (adopted son)
Unnamed child (via artificial insemination with Liz Cruz)
RelativesJenna McNamara (legal granddaughter, via Matt)

Dr. Sean McNamara is a fictional character on FX Networks' drama series Nip/Tuck, portrayed by Dylan Walsh. His character opens the show with the trademark catchphrase, "Tell me what you don't like about yourself." His partner, Christian Troy, has been his best friend since attending college together at the University of Miami, which is partly why they went into business together. Sean is portrayed as the more skilled, yet more troubled surgeon, who apparently specializes in craniofacial surgery. He is often plagued by family distresses involving his wife Julia and son Matt. The two also have a daughter, Annie, and a newborn son named Conor.

Character history[edit]

Sean formerly ran the McNamara/Troy plastic surgery clinic in Miami with his best friend, Christian Troy. He is nearing middle age and trying to come to terms with the choices he has made in his life; he believes that he went into plastic surgery to help repair the bodies of the deformed and the mutilated, but became sidetracked in performing vanity procedures. When the show begins, he is considering going into pro bono work.[1]

At the beginning of the series, Sean and Julia's marriage is slowly falling apart. At one point, Sean has an affair with one of his patients - Megan O'Hara, a breast cancer survivor who is separated from her husband. The affair continues until Sean confesses it to Matt and tries to break it off, but he feels obliged to Megan when her cancer returns. She decides she would rather commit suicide than go through chemotherapy, and asks Sean to help her go peacefully. Julia accompanies Sean to Megan's funeral where she realizes why he is so upset about her death.

Sean and Julia work hard to try to salvage their marriage. In the middle of the second season, Julia learns that Matt is, in fact, Christian's biological son (the result of a one-night stand just prior to Julia and Sean's wedding). Though Sean eventually forgives Christian, he finds it difficult to do so for Julia, and the two separate.

Around this time, a masked serial rapist begins terrorizing Miami, raping and mutilating fashion models. Referred to as "The Carver" by the media, he leaves deep cuts on both sides of his victims' mouths, resembling a smile. When McNamara/Troy begin performing pro bono surgery on his victims, the enraged killer targets Sean. Sean is eventually attacked by The Carver in his home, but is more fortunate than most of his victims; he receives only a single cut on his right cheek and is not raped. Quentin Costa, a surgeon from Atlanta, is called in to help Christian fix Sean's face.

After Christian becomes a Carver victim himself, he finds it difficult to continue working. To pick up the slack, Sean offers Quentin a limited partnership, which he accepts. Christian is initially against the partnership, but eventually agrees to work with Quentin.

During this time, Sean's life becomes even more chaotic. Julia files divorce papers and begins her own spa, and Christian is arrested in connection with the Carver rapes (and one murder). The Carver attacks while Christian is in jail, and Christian is set free. The incident greatly hurts business at McNamara/Troy, and Sean begins to question the cosmetic surgery business again. After an incident in which the doctors attempted to perform plastic surgery on an elderly woman in unfit condition for such a procedure, Sean quits the practice and joins the Witness Protection Program. He only performed one operation on a son and mother, with whom he then began to have a relationship. Finally choosing between leaving his old life behind and beginning a completely new one, he returns to the practice and ignites a bitter rivalry with Quentin, who has since begun dating his ex-wife.

The rivalry ends with Quentin buying out the remainder of his contract and going to work at Julia's spa. Julia eventually fires Quentin, and discovers soon after that she is pregnant. Sean and Christian initially assume the child is Quentin's. However, Quentin, not knowing that Julia is pregnant, admits to Christian that the two never had sex. The child is now assumed to be Sean's, the result of a night the two spent together after their divorce.

Sean's relationship with Matt could be salvageable, since Matt asked him to do pro bono work on Cherry Peck, a transgender person he beat up. Shortly after doing so, The Carver launched two more attacks, this time on a sorority house, and on Sean's rival, Quentin Costa. Sean agreed to fix Quentin after a heart-breaking speech, but he and Christian pay dearly for it, because The Carver sneaks up and drugs Sean, and then takes off the mask, revealing himself as none other than Quentin Costa. He then straps both Sean and Christian to the operating tables, plays mind games with them, and then cuts off one of Sean's fingers. Christian decides to sacrifice himself, or more specifically, his left hand to save Sean. Before that happens, Quentin is shot from behind by Kit McGraw, a police officer who had a brief relationship with Christian. However, she is also Quentin's sister and had been helping him commit the attacks.

A microsurgeon saves Sean's finger. After giving up the property deed to his house to Julia, she decides to add his name to it, saying she'll only move back in if he's still living there. He agrees and they move in together again but their relationship is put to a strain after he discovers that his son is going to be born handicapped with ectrodactyly, commonly known as lobster claw syndrome. Furthermore, he later has sex with a potential nanny named Monica Wilder, but afterwards decided not to hire her after feeling guilty of cheating on Julia once again. Although he has no feelings for Monica and broke whatever they had off after she returned to him, she has no intentions of leaving Sean and will prove to be a threat to Sean and Julia's tenuous reunion.

Despite not hiring Monica, she continues to involve herself in Sean's life by filling in as Conor's nanny when his regular nanny is hospitalized with food poisoning. After repeatedly telling her to leave, Monica confronts Sean at work and asks him to look at a possible infection to her nipple stemming from continuously attempting to breastfeed Conor. Sean contemplates killing Monica to prevent her from telling Julia of their affair, but is ultimately unable to and tells her to leave and that she should see a psychologist. Enraged, Monica tells Sean that she is going to tell the police that he raped her and thus destroy their marriage. Sean hurries after Monica, trying to talk some sense into her when she is killed in a freak accident when a bus hits her while crossing the road.

When it got closer to the day of Conor's hand surgery, Sean faces several obstacles. First, Julia became more hesitant in even having the surgery done and with Marlowe's (Conor's nurse) encouragement, she refused to sign the consent forms. Additionally, Sean became more conscious of Conor's hands as a young boy makes fun of his condition, prompting him to insult the child's own physical appearance and punching the boy's father. Eventually, Sean settled everything with the father and realized that he was merely projecting his repressed anger from his own childhood, revealing to Julia that he was born with a cleft lip, which made him an object of ridicule (it should also be noted that his mother's decision to repair it secretly with Sean's college fund ultimately led to his father leaving the family). After discovering this, Julia agreed to the surgery and Sean was now more at ease with Conor's chance of living a normal life. However, Conor's infancy meant that both hands could not be operated on at the same time. Sean operated on only one of Conor's hands before Julia decided to cancel the second surgery and take Annie and Conor with her to New York, leaving Sean behind.

Sean has sessions with psychologist Faith Wolper without Christian knowing. She tells him that Christian has had dreams about him. Sean tells Christian, and their relationship goes back to normal.[2] Sean has sold his share of his partnership to Christian and Michelle claiming he needs to know if he can live without Christian. He moves to Los Angeles and gets a new job. However, Christian soon joins him.[3]

However life isn't easy in LA and they spend their first 2 months without any clients. Desperate they join a show as consults and guest-stars. While Christian is cut out due to bad acting, Sean's appearance allows him to be recognized on the streets and have some clients come.[4] Going on with the show he begins a relationship with a fellow actress but they have some trouble when she reveals to be a former fat girl and asks him for an abdominoplasty, making her flee in Christian's arms although they later make up.[5] He then meets and becomes obsessed with Olivia's daughter Eden.[6] He then proposes to his new girlfriend Kate[7] but when they try to spice up their sex lives they realize they are not made for each other.[8] When Eden comes back from rehab, he kisses her.[9] As their relationship goes further, Eden admits that she finds him too old, and their tryst had merely been a fling on her part. He gets advice on how to stay young without surgery from Aidan Stone and then goes to his party, where he ignores Eden to get her to want him. As they have sex he has an adverse reaction to MDMA, which lands him in a hospital where Christian and Julia learn about the affair, disgusting Julia.[10]

Sean's life is further complicated by his agent Colleen, who comes off as overly attached to Sean. When a rival agent shows interest in representing Sean, Colleen lures him to her apartment and kills him by force feeding him stuffing from teddy bears which she makes. Sean eventually learns that Colleen isn't a licensed agent, and breaks off ties with her despite her numerous attempts to contact him. He files a restraining order with her, but she still insists on being around him. Seeking revenge on Sean, she places the body of the dead agent in his room and apparently flees the country. Later, when Sean is at the office working on Annie who was recently involved in a car crash, Colleen sneaks into the office and repeatedly stabs Sean in the back leaving him on his back coughing in a pool of his own blood with Colleen staring down at him.

Colleen apparently leaves him for dead. Not being able to move much, he tampers with the medical equipment that Annie is hooked up to in hopes of setting off an alarm to get help. He does so but Colleen returns and drags him off and locks him in a room with her. Liz hears Annie's machines going off and, after slipping in a pool of blood, yells for Christian who helps her with Annie then sets off to find Sean. While Colleen talks to Sean, he grabs the knife she dropped on the floor and stabs her with it, killing her. Christian then breaks the door down and finds Sean bleeding to death and tries to dial 911 but the phone does not work and he screams for Liz.

Four months later Sean is alive and well, albeit using a wheelchair and unable to perform surgery due to nerve inflammations. He teaches at a prestigious plastic surgeon college as a way to make ends meet while Matt helps him with his rehabilitation regimens. At the end of the episode it is revealed that Sean can walk just fine and has been faking his paralysis, wanting to be the one taken care of instead of being the one having to take care of everyone else. After Liz leaves after her breakup with Christian, Sean becomes involved with Liz's replacement; an adventurous biker named Teddy. She tries to loosen Sean up, taking him to a restaurant that is completely pitch-black, breaking into an unsold house to have sex and experimenting with mind-altering drugs.

Sean and Teddy later marry, unbeknownst to Sean that Teddy is really a "black widow" - a con artist and murderer who has preyed on several other doctors. However, Sean's life insurance policy only lists Annie and Connor as beneficiaries. In order to get the money, Teddy tries to kill all three of them on a camping trip by drugging them with sleeping pills and flooding the trailer with carbon monoxide. Annie wakes up, having not eaten the tainted s'mores, and wakes her father up who manages to get them out. Later, the police call Sean and tell him that a heart was found near the trailer and that the DNA matches samples taken from Teddy's hair. Sean learns that Teddy was planning to kill him and his children for the money, and bribed her attacker with the money. At first he doesn't believe this; it is only later with the police show him 4 other victims of Teddy's that he comes to accept it. He dumps Teddy's cremated remains in a trash can as well as his wedding ring before attempting to commit suicide via drowning. Sean has a change of heart and is rescued by the Coast Guard and undergoes therapy from Julia's mother, who attempts to use this incident to take custody of Annie and Connor in order to have a family with her young boyfriend. However, she discovers him masturbating into a pair of Annie's panties and kicks him out, and drops the suit against Sean and Julia.

Sean's self-esteem is damaged further when he encounters a former med student friend who is now involved in a "Doctors without Borders" program, which Sean envies at a conference in which him and Christian are being honored. When he finds out that the award they are receiving is because Christian made a huge donation to the school, he decides to join his friend's program having had enough of Christian's egocentricism. While his friend is out of the country, Sean becomes friends with his wife who tries to seduce him due to her husband being gone most of the time and having to tend to her needs. Sean refuses, but is kicked from the program when his friend confronts him saying that his wife told them that they had had sex and that "You and Christian deserve each other". This appears to be the last straw for Sean, who starts to pull away and distance himself from Christian who he has begun to blame for the way his life has turned out.

Towards the end of season six, Christian and Sean return to being as they describe "brothers". Soon enough, Sean is shaken by Julia's visit to Los Angeles, where she announces that she is moving to England with her fiancee, Edmund, and requests to take Annie and Conor with her. Later at Matt and Ramona's wedding (where Matt leaves Ramona at the altar for Ava), Sean agrees to sign the papers for Julia's satisfaction. In the final episode, Christian sits Sean down at the consult desk, asking Sean what he didn't like about himself. Sean is surprised Christian would ask him such a question, and replies that he is perfectly happy with his new life. Christian, however, knows better and tells Sean he is dissolving the partnership (after a dream where Kimber appears in his bedroom and ridicules him for his actions, and reveals she killed herself to escape him, and believes that Sean might do the same if he remains at McNamara/Troy since Christian's lifestyle destroys everyone around him)

Christian gifts Sean with two one way plane tickets to leave the country with Raphael (Ava's abandoned orphan whom Sean and Christian operated on) where Sean can perform pro bono work on people in lesser countries, like he had dreamed. Sean accepts the gift, and leaves the office to see a new sign on the foyer, "Troy/Cruz". Christian drops Sean off at the airport with Raphael and through security, TSA asks if Raphael is Sean's son. Without pondering, he says yes. Sean's appearance ends with him looking back at Christian.

Future (Sean's dream)[edit]

In the flash forwards of episode 'Conor McNamara, 2026' when Julia sees Sean she asks how his second wife is doing indicating Sean eventually remarries. Sean, however, tells her not to ask him about his personal life giving no further details. Conor, aged 20, decides to go through with the surgery on his other hand with Matt as his primary surgeon and Sean in the operating room assisting. In the Season 5: part two premiere, Ronny Chase, Sean reveals that the events of Conor McNamara, 2026 was a dream he had during his break-up with Julia.


  1. ^ "Pilot". Nip/Tuck. Season 1. Episode 1. July 22, 2003. F/X.
  2. ^ "Diane Lubey". Nip/Tuck. Season 4. Episode 12. November 21, 2006. F/X.
  3. ^ "Gala Gallardo". Nip/Tuck. Season 4. Episode 15. December 12, 2006. F/X.
  4. ^ "Carly Summers". Nip/Tuck. Season 5. Episode 1. October 30, 2007. F/X.
  5. ^ "Joyce and Sharon Monroe". Nip/Tuck. Season 5. Episode 2. November 6, 2007. F/X.
  6. ^ "Everett Poe". Nip/Tuck. Season 5. Episode 3. November 13, 2007. F/X.
  7. ^ "Dawn Budge II". Nip/Tuck. Season 5. Episode 4. November 20, 2007. F/X.
  8. ^ "Chaz Darling". Nip/Tuck. Season 5. Episode 5. November 27, 2007. F/X.
  9. ^ "Damien Sands". Nip/Tuck. Season 5. Episode 6. November 13, 2007. F/X.
  10. ^ "Dr. Joshua Lee". Nip/Tuck. Season 5. Episode 7. December 11, 2007. F/X.