Robert had a good childhood, but his life became hectic after his father Jack had an affair with Rachel Tate in 1997 and his adoptive mother Sarah had an affair with lodger Richie Carter in 2000. His adoptive brother Andy accidentally killed Sarah when he started a barn fire in order to claim on insurance when the farm was going through financial troubles. After Jack was acquitted of starting the fire, Robert found out that Andy was responsible for Sarah's death and, devastated, left for Spain to stay with his grandmother Annie.
Robert returned a few months later and a bitter feud started developing between him and Andy, causing trouble for Andy and his girlfriend Katie Addyman. Robert later goes on to have a fling with Nicola Blackstock and dating Donna Windsor and Elaine Marsden simultaneously; both relationships ended badly when Donna found out Robert had been unfaithful (though they later reconciled) and when Robert and Elaine were involved in a car accident. By the end of 2003, Katie had become Andy's fiancee and Robert started an affair with her. Andy's brother Daz and Robert's sister Victoria caught them at it, but they were both threatened to keep quiet. Jack discovered it, as well, and tried to make sure Andy did not find out, but Robert told Andy anyway, leaving him devastated. After Andy and Katie separated, Robert got together with her and she became Robert's fiancee, but she left the village after she discovered that Robert had an affair with Sadie King. Robert and Andy's feud reached new heights and culminated in the tragic death of Max King, which led to Robert leaving the village in order to avoid being arrested. Robert returned briefly to the village in 2009 after Jack's death and watched the funeral from afar.
Five years later, Robert got engaged to Chrissie White, the daughter of agricultural machinery tycoon Lawrence White and returned to the village, much to the delight of Jack's widow Diane and Victoria and the shock of Andy and Katie, who had recently got back together. Robert and Andy's feud was re-ignited, and Robert started causing trouble for the couple, but they put their differences aside as Andy and Katie remarried on Christmas Day 2014. Robert had recently started an affair with Aaron Livesy and Katie subsequently found out, but this led to her death when Robert accidentally pushed her onto some rotting floorboards, sending her plummeting through to the basement and breaking her neck. Aaron later told Chrissie of his affair with Robert and Chrissie threw him out. Robert refused to sign the divorce papers, so Chrissie set fire to his car, but much to their horror, this resulted in a massive explosion, sending a gas canister flying into the air and hitting a passing helicopter, which careered out of control and crashed through the roof of the village hall. Weeks later, Robert is shot by Ross Barton, in a deal that he and Andy had. Robert later supported Aaron when he admitted he was sexually abused by his father Gordon, as a child and helped Andy to leave the country after Andy was wrongfully accused of shooting Lawrence, the real culprit being Chrissie's son Lachlan. Robert and Aaron subsequently got engaged after they were involved in a car accident involving many of the other villagers.
1986-2001: Early lifeEdit
Robert is born on 22nd April 1986 to Jack and Pat Sugden. He has three older siblings Jackie, Tommy and Sandie Merrick. When Robert was four months old, his mother was killed in a car crash and Jackie was killed in a shooting accident when he was three. Shortly after this, Sandie leaves and Robert loses contact with his maternal family. Robert stays with his father who brings him up alone until Jack starts dating Sarah Connolly in 1988 and marries in May 1994. Robert's half-sister, Victoria is born the same year.
Robert runs away in 1995, upset over his father and step-mother's constant arguing. He hides out in a barn and befriends a man named Derek Simpson, but Derek discovers Robert is a missing child and returns him, which saddens Robert, having gotten so attached to him.
In 1996, Robert befriends Andy Hopwood, a boy the same age in local authority care whilst his father is in prison for robbery and manslaughter. Robert takes Andy to a local quarry where Andy traps his foot under a rock. Robert runs to get help and Biff Fowler rescues Andy. When Andy's grandmother dies, Jack and Sarah foster him but Robert begins to resent Andy and is unhappy at having to share his home and belongings. Despite this, Robert defends Andy when Donna Windsor tries to bully them and punches her. Donna tries to blame Robert for the bullying but no one believes her and she is suspended from school. After leading Donna astray, Robert and Andy take her joyriding in Leeds, causing a feud between the Sugden and Windsor families.
Robert's life is rocked when he discovers that his father is having an affair with Rachel Hughes in 1997. Robert catches Jack and Rachel kissing. Horrified, Jack ends it but Sarah finds out. Robert's life seems to be back on track, but in 2000, Sarah has an affair with Richie Carter, and leaves Jack, taking Victoria with her. Robert sides with Sarah over his father but Jack wins custody as Sarah is not his biological mother. Robert stays with Kathy Glover and tells her that he intends to leave home when he is sixteen. On 16th November 2000, Robert returns to the farm to collect some belongings and discovers the barn is on fire. Sarah is inside and subsequently dies, devastating him. Jack is arrested and stands trial for her murder but is acquitted. Robert discovers that Andy started the fire and disgusted, he goes to Spain in May 2001 to stay with his grandmother Annie Brearly, and her husband Amos.
2001-2005: Feud with AndyEdit
Robert returns in August 2001. Wanting rid of Andy, Robert starts taunting him about his love life. He tries unsuccessfully to cause problems between Andy and his girlfriend Katie Addyman. In September, Robert and Andy go out for the night in Leeds with Katie, Donna, Ollie and Marc Reynolds, and Eve Birch. When Andy is refused entry to a nightclub, the teenagers miss their bus home and Andy steals a car to drive back. On their way back, they run over their headmistress Miss Strickland. Robert suggests they cover their tracks and burn the car. However, the truth eventually comes out. Marc is jailed and the other teenagers receive community service.
After Andy taunts him over not having a girlfriend, Robert loses his virginity to Nicola Blackstock, shortly after his sixteenth birthday. Nicola dumps him the following day when she invites him round to her house in order for him to discover her having sex with Syd Woolfe.
After leaving school, Robert gets a job working as a mechanic at Scott Windsor's garage. After having sex with her in the back of his car, Robert starts dating Scott's sister, Donna. Feeling he is in need of more excitement in his life, he also starts dating Elaine Marsden. However, Donna finds out about Robert and Elaine and dumps him. Robert continues to date Elaine, but in September 2003, he and Elaine are in a car accident while Robert is driving. Panicking, Robert flees the scene, leaving Elaine unconscious in the car. Robert manages to lie his way out of trouble as Elaine has no memory of how the accident happened. She later realizes the truth when she sees bruising from the seat belt across his chest, which suggests that Robert was driving, not her as Robert told everyone. In December 2003, Elaine and her family leave the village. Robert and Donna reconcile but Robert still wants excitement and begins an affair with Katie, now Andy's fiance. Robert and Katie are caught by Andy's half-brother, Daz Eden, in January 2004. Katie threatens Daz, telling him he will be put into care if he says anything. Daz tells Andy but Katie convinces him that Daz is lying and is too much for them to cope with so he is returned to foster care. Victoria also catches them together but Robert swears her to secrecy and Katie threatens her so she becomes too scared to talk and uses a puppet to speak through instead.
Feeling guilty, Katie ends the affair the day before her wedding to Andy in February 2004, leaving him devastated. However, they resume the affair after the wedding, despite Robert's reconciliation with Donna. They intend to run away together but Robert insists they tell Andy the truth when he finds Katie's farewell note, leaving him distraught. Donna is also devastated and feels betrayed by her boyfriend and best friend. The aftermath of the affair leads to Andy waiting in Robert's caravan with a shotgun, planning to kill them both. However, he accidentally shoots Jack instead, leaving him fighting for his life. Robert initially refuses to forgive Andy but when he realizes that he is responsible for the situation, they reconcile and embrace in the hospital. Jack survives the gunshot wound but disowns Andy and he returns alone to Butler's Farm. Robert also continues his relationship with Katie.
In early 2005, Robert proposes to Katie and she accepts, and the pair plan to marry later that year. However, Robert is seduced by Sadie King. Robert and Sadie have an affair but Daz sees them together and tells Andy who confronts Robert and attacks him. He tries to force Robert to tell Katie about his affair with Sadie but Robert insists that Andy is lying. Katie learns the truth when she finds erotic text messages on Robert's phone from Sadie. Katie ends the relationship and Andy comforts her, leading to them sleeping together. Robert vows to get revenge on Andy, and helps Jimmy King and Cain Dingle set fire to the barn at Butler's Farm. Robert sees Jimmy and Cain beat up Andy and stops them. Daz accidentally stabs Jimmy with a pitchfork while trying to protect Andy. Robert and Cain take Jimmy away and Jimmy's brother, Max, patches him up at the vets. However, the truth soon comes out and Jack throws Robert out, disowning him and calls him a traitor.
Robert and Andy's feud is reignited by this, leading Katie to leave the village in June 2005, so Robert starts dating Debbie Dingle, the mother of Andy's daughter, Sarah. Robert and Debbie plan to go to London, along with Max King who was leaving the village after poisoning cows belonging to the Briggs family for his father, Tom. However, on the day that they plan to leave in October 2005, Andy finds out about Robert and Debbie's plan and forces her to tell him where she is going to meet Robert, he goes there and confronts him, and they start fighting. Max is forced to separate them and Robert tells Debbie that he doesn't care about her and was only interested in her because of Sarah and wanted to hurt Andy by taking his daughter away. Debbie leaves and returns to the village, heartbroken. Max decides not to go with Robert and asks Andy to drive him to the railway station. Filled with rage, Robert turns the car round and accelerates, driving straight at Andy's Land Rover. Max panics and grabs hold of the steering wheel. The Land Rover goes off the road and rolls onto its roof. Robert stops and rescues Andy but the Land Rover explodes before he can rescue Max. Max is killed and Jack arrives just after the accident and Robert tells him what happened. Jack calls an ambulance and tells Robert to leave so he won't be arrested. Jack insists that Andy tell the police that he swerved to avoid a flock of sheep. Robert gets into his car and drives away. Robert is last seen at a service station, ordering some food and tells the waitress that he intends on travelling whichever direction his car is pointing.
2009: Jack's funeralEdit
Four years later, Robert returns on 10th February 2009, the day of his father's funeral, with his grandmother. Robert visits Butler's Farm, and meets Natasha Wylde, who is on her horse and thinks Robert is an intruder. He explains that his father's funeral is taking place and watches from a distance, and Andy sees him. Andy tries to persuade Robert to stay and run the farm, but Robert tells Andy that he doesn't belong there any more, before driving off. Robert returns to the cemetery after nightfall, and lays a rose upon it, before leaving. After they go to the grave to say a final farewell to Jack, Andy sees the rose and tells Victoria that if Robert could have been at the funeral, he would have come.
2014-2015: Robert's return; affair with Aaron LivesyEdit
Robert returns to Emmerdale on 23rd October 2014 with his fiancée Chrissie White and her family (father Lawrence and son Lachlan). The Whites plan to buy Home Farm. Robert runs into Andy and Katie while visiting the Farm. The two brothers clash immediately. Lawrence White also isn't to keen on his future son-in-law, so he tries to get Katie and Andy's help to get rid of Robert altogether. He even fakes a heart attack during the Sugdens' memorial for their mother. Robert tries to make himself look good by staging a raid at Home Farm, enlisting the help of Ross Barton and Aaron Livesy. It all goes wrong when Chrissie comes home early. Aaron and Ross manage to escape, but Lawrence ends up having a real heart attack. Chrissie notices that her mothers ring was stolen during the raid. So Robert confronts Aaron about it, who manages to get the ring back from Ross.
2015: The start of RobronEdit
Soon after that, Robert finds out that Aaron is gay. After failing to reconnect with him after the raid, he claims to have broken down and calls for Aaron to help. Just when Aaron's about to leave, after he found out that there's nothing wrong the car, Robert makes a move on Aaron and the pair passionately kiss, but Robert pulls away before things can go any further. He returns home to Chrissie to make up with her, but goes to see Aaron later that night. They meet at the garage and Robert apologises for pulling away earlier and they have sex in the back of a car. They continue their affair.
Katie becomes sure he's having an affair, alienating herself from Andy as a result. Just as she's close to giving up, she gets a tip from Aaron, who wants to out Robert to force him to make a choice. On Robert's wedding day to Chrissie, Katie photographs Aaron and Robert kissing at Wylie's Farm after Aaron texted her to get there in order to finally discover the affair. Robert tells her to delete the photo. Robert and Katie argue. Katie threatens Robert with telling Chrissie, but Robert pushes Katie to the floor twice; the second time, the floor caves in and Katie is killed.
Later, Robert and Chrissie marry, and a few hours later, Andy finds Katie's body. Robert tries to help Andy, even stopping him from committing suicide, but also makes sure Aaron keeps quiet about their involvement in her death, telling Aaron that he and Katie had just been talking and she wouldn't have died if not for Aaron telling her to go to the farm. He and Aaron become estranged, but when he learns Aaron has returned to self-harm, he tells him a partial truth to put some of the blame for Katie on himself. Aaron beats him up, but they soon resume their affair, only splitting up again when Aaron realises he will always be second best in Robert's life.
After Chrissie refuses to pay Ross for a job he bungled, he tells her about the raid. A furious Chrissie throws Robert out of the house and begins divorce proceedings. Aaron, knowing he won't be able to resist Robert if he continues to be at the pub instead of Home Farm, tries to convince her to take him back. She nearly does, but then overhears him boasting about the plan to Aaron. She then locks Robert in a small building on the estate and threatens to set it on fire as he begs her to stop. Robert works with Lachlan to make it seem as if Robert has saved Lachlan from suicide. Chrissie decides to give Robert another chance.
In July, Aaron, sick of Paddy Kirk and Chas Dingle interfering in his life, restarts his affair with Robert. Paddy writes a note to warn Chrissie that Robert is a cheater, making her suspicious. A drunken Robert sees Paddy has fallen in a grain pit at Butler's Farm and turns the auger on, watching as the pit fills and Paddy is knocked unconscious after an attempt to escape sends him crashing to the bottom. Robert moves to save him, but goes to hide when Andy appears. Paddy accuses Robert of trying to kill him, but Robert keeps him quiet by threatening to kill Paddy's stepson, Leo Goskirk. He and Aaron continue their relationship, but after Aaron threatens to cut Paddy out of his life after more interference, Paddy tells him about what Robert's done, and suggests he also murdered Katie.
In September, he's shot near the heart by a mystery assailant during a heated argument with Chas Dingle. Robert barely makes it through surgery, and spends the next month in a coma as various suspects are arrested and released. When Aaron is caught on video hiding the murder weapon, he's arrested, and due to his being on remand, kept in prison. Robert wakes up soon after, frightened that the shooter is still out there, as he does not believe Aaron pulled the trigger. After being released from hospital and needing to recover, he moves in with Victoria, one of the few people to stick by him. Still doubting his guilt, Robert went to Aaron's plea hearing to find out the truth, telling Victoria he would be able to tell by looking him in the eye. When Aaron pleads not guilty, Robert goads Aaron to tell the truth, only for Aaron to lash out and say he should have done everyone a favour and died, leaving Robert shaken. Once Aaron was released from prison, Robert met with him where Aaron accused him of playing with his head and told him he hated him and nothing he could do would change that, leaving Robert hurt.
On New Years Eve, Robert finds out Ross shot him as a result of his deal with Andy. Robert angrily confronts Ross with a gun until Debbie and Andy walk in. Robert tells Debbie what Ross did and she decides to leave the village the next day with the kids, leaving Andy and Ross devastated. Andy angrily confronts Robert, telling him he wins again. Robert, who had only wanted to get revenge on Ross, didn't think Andy would lose his kids as a result and feels guilty.
2016: Supporting Aaron, clearing Andy's name and getting engagedEdit
In January 2016, noticing that Aaron is feeling under pressure, Robert learns he is running away after learning about his parents Gordon and Chas reconciliation by reading the note left by Aaron. He chases and confronts Aaron when he is trying to get into a car to escape. Aaron collapses in Robert's arms and Robert anxiously rushes him to the hospital. Aaron develops sepsis, an infection in his self-harm wound. Robert tries to get through to Aaron to find out why he is self-harming again and Aaron lets slip that it is because of his father. Aaron soon goes missing from his ward. Robert then finds Aaron hiding in Debbie's house shortly after. Robert is shocked when Aaron breaks down and reveals to him that Gordon raped him as a child. The next day, Robert comes face to face with Gordon in the pub. Still left disgusted following Aaron's confession, Robert furiously told Gordon he knows what he did to Aaron and threatening him to leave town or he will finish him off.
In February 2016, Robert is worried for Aaron after learning from Adam that Chas has kicked him out. He goes to the pub and tells Chas that Aaron is in an exceptionally bad state and that she needs to talk to him. After speaking to Cain, Chas visits him, he tells her that Aaron has been cutting himself because of Gordon but refused to tell her what Gordon did to Aaron. Later, Robert finds out that Aaron has finally told Chas about his sexual abuse but refuses to go to the police. Then Cain also finds out about Aaron's abuse after Chas tells him. After Cain tells the Dingles, Moira, Paddy and Adam about Aaron's ordeal, Adam tells Robert that Aaron has gone to the police. While Aaron took time away from the village to get his head together, Robert helps out at the scrapyard. Chas enlists Robert's help to speed things up but grows impatient and vandalises Gordon's car by spraying "Paedo" on it. Robert explains that this is not helping and takes her home. Aaron returns and overhears Diane and Doug talking, Robert is forced to tell Aaron what has happened during his absence. Aaron gives Chas an ultimatum but this backfires when Chas blurts out the whole thing to everyone in the pub. Robert manages to track down Aaron's stepmother Sandra Livesy who has changed her name to Flaherty. He and Aaron go to see if she can help. Arriving there, Aaron needs some time to pluck up the courage to say what he needs so he and Robert talk a walk which leads to them reconnecting, but they agree to take things slow. A young thief tries to make off with Aaron's wallet and Robert gives chase, earning him a knee to the groin. They later learn that the thief is Aaron's half-sister Liv Flaherty. Aaron pleads with Sandra to help him, and after initially feigning ignorance, Aaron works out that she knows about the abuse the entire time. He grows angry with his former stepmother, but she still refuses to help him. He tearfully informs his sister what kind of person their dad is. Back at the Woolpack, Aaron is fearful that he has ruined his chances of convicting his father.
The next day, the police inform Aaron that another male victim has come forward. It is revealed that Robert is paying Gordon's neighbour Ryan to lie to the police and say Gordon has abused him as well. After Gordon accuses Chas of paying Ryan, Robert confesses to Chas, he is the person who asked Ryan to help in Aaron's case. Two days later, Ryan arrives at the pub to see Robert, he wants to be out of the deal but Robert explains he is helping to put Gordon in the jail. Robert hands him some cash. Aaron walks in and sees Robert and Ryan. Robert tries to lie to Aaron about Ryan but is forced to admit Ryan is the second 'victim'. Hours later, Chas confesses to Aaron that Robert has paid Ryan to lie to the police. Robert tries to explain to Aaron that he did it for him get justice, but Aaron is left upset and furious. Aaron tells him if the case falls apart, he will blame it on him. A couple of weeks later, Robert goes to Gordon's plea hearing to support Aaron. Gordon turns up, pretends to be ill and then collapses with Aaron, Robert, Lisa, Belle and Chas witnessing in horror.
While this is going on, Robert learns that Chrissie has begun a relationship with his brother Andy. This riles Robert, but also irritates Aaron as Robert's attentions are elsewhere, when he needs him the most. A week later, Aaron told Robert don't go to the trial but the next day, Robert went to court as he stood as a witness. Robert insists Aaron wouldn't lie about something of this magnitude and admits to court of his feelings for him. The next day, Robert arrived to the court to support Aaron and watched Gordon and Liv take to the stand. Later, Robert arrived at the pub to see Aaron. Robert tells Aaron he is over Andy and Chrissie and he is changed man. When Robert was about to leave, Aaron asks him to stay to have a drink. While they are alone, Robert insists to Aaron that he will keep trying to be better. Aaron wants to be able to trust Robert again. Robert promises he will not let Aaron down and they share a tender kiss. The next day, Gordon found guilty of rape by the jury. At the village, Robert comforts Aaron who is worried that Gordon going to prison won't help him to forget what he did but Robert encourages him to be happy.
Robert is seen staying over at the Woolpack with Aaron. After the first night he stays, Chas seems elated to see him at breakfast the following morning, and him and Aaron discuss taking a trip somewhere to get away from it all. He later turns up with two tickets for them to go to Barcelona for the weekend and is disheartened when they can't go due to Liv turning up, wanting to stay at the Woolpack with Aaron.
When Pete Barton is released from prison, he gives Robert a letter to Aaron from Gordon. Robert tells Adam about the letter and he suggests that Robert gives it to Aaron. But Robert burns the letter after Aaron says he wants nothing more to do with Gordon. Robert discovers Liv has skipped school to go to Gordon's sentencing and he goes to court to find her. Robert also calls Aaron, who turns up and decides to stay to see Gordon get 18 years imprisonment. Robert panics when Gordon tells Aaron about the letter, but he quickly rushing Aaron and Liv out of the court. Later, Aaron asked about the letter but Robert says Gordon was lying. However, Aaron discovers Robert got rid of Gordon's letter. Aaron and Liv are informed that Gordon was found dead in his prison cell. Aaron blames Robert for not giving him the letter. Robert tells Aaron that Gordon was going to commit suicide. Aaron, Chas and Cain believe Robert was involved in Gordon's death, but DS Wise informs them that Gordon hung himself. Aaron apologises to Robert, who explains that he was trying to protect him. Robert suggests Aaron visits Gordon's body in the mortuary. The next day, Gordon left Aaron and Liv £250,000 each in his will. Aaron and Liv refused to have Gordon's money. Robert and Charity talk about Aaron's decision to walk away from Gordon's money, unaware that Aaron was listening. Aaron walks in and angrily confronts Robert, calling him manipulative and controlling. Robert tried to apologise but Aaron refused to listen, telling Robert that he will never change and orders him to stay away from him. Devastated, Robert leaves. However, the next day, Robert came to see Aaron, telling him he'll never stop looking out for him and Liv. He asserts that the inheritance will be useful for Liv's future. Aaron later convinces Liv to accept her share.
A couple of weeks later, Liv accused Robert of sending cruel messages posing as Gordon but Robert denied it, upset that she thought he'd want to hurt her like that. Later, Liv overheard Robert telling Aaron that he will be there for both him and Liv as she is his family too. Later, they attended Gordon's funeral but unable to handle it, Liv ran off and Robert went after her. Robert tells Liv about how he watched his own dad's funeral from a distance and gently tells her it's ok to be sad. They finally bond and agree to get on for Aaron's sake. Later, at the pub, Robert was arrested for perverting the course of justice after Liv offered to Ryan to go to the police about Robert paying him. Liv tells Aaron she tried to call off the deal but it was too late. The next day, Robert returned and admits to Aaron that his fears about going to prison and wonders who got Ryan to tell the police and quickly realises it was Liv. Robert is furious to learn Aaron already knew. Aaron tried to explain that he only found out after Robert was arrested. Robert left upset, reasoning that Aaron had effectively chose Liv over him.
Robert later found out Liv had left when Aaron was not around. When he found her, Liv later explained that she tried to stop Ryan from going to the police, but it was too late. Robert told her he might go to prison but he attributed that to the karma for his wrongdoings. Liv and Robert decided to put their differences aside and patch up. Robert accidentally saw Noah's phone messages and realised that Noah was Liv's online bully. Robert jokingly threatened Noah to stop his actions or he will pay for it, to which Noah agreed. It was later revealed by Liv that her bully's account had been taken down. Robert and Aaron decide to take Liv on a holiday to Wales.
In July 2016, after being caught in the shower by Charity, Aaron, fed up about the lack of privacy living in an overcrowded pub, asks Robert if he would like to get a place together. Robert tells him he'll think about it, leaving Aaron disappointed. However, Victoria steps in and reminds Robert just how much he loves Aaron and that he should take this step forward in their relationship but just as he's about to call Aaron and make amends, Ryan returns and wanting money from Robert, threatens to lie and report him to the police for assaulting him otherwise. Robert kidnaps Ryan and locks him in the boot of his car for the night. The next day, Robert lets Ryan go, unaware that Aaron has been watching him. Robert gives Ryan the money and tells him to stay away from him, Aaron and Liv. Ryan leaves with Robert's money. Robert is shocked to discover that Aaron had seen everything. Robert tries to explain to Aaron that he was scaring off Ryan to protect himself, him and Liv but Aaron walks off, upset at Robert. The next day, Liv texts Robert, using Aaron's phone. Robert tells Liv the real reason why him and Aaron fell out was because Aaron saw him letting Ryan out of his boot. Liv asks Finn Barton an advice on how to get Aaron and Robert back together. Liv tricks Aaron and Robert to be in the back of The Woolpack at the same time and leave them to sort things out. While in the living room, Robert tells Aaron that he matters to him and he'll try to change for the better for him, but maintains that this is who he is, and he'll do whatever it takes to protect those he cares about. They reconcile, and Robert agrees to move in. As Aaron and Robert share a kiss, Liv enthuses to Finn about how doing the opposite of what he advised worked.
Robert finally tells Aaron that it was Ross who shot him because of the deal he made with Andy. Aaron is upset that the truth was kept from him but Robert begs Aaron to leave it. Later, Aaron sees Andy with Chrissie and unable to contain his anger, punches him in the face before telling Chrissie what Andy did.
In the weeks following Andy's arrest for Lawrence's shooting, Robert vows to help his brother out. After Andy escapes from prison, he is rescued by Robert and tells him that Chrissie framed him out of revenge for sleeping with Bernice. Aaron warns Robert of the dangers of being a fugitive and begs him not to get involved. Robert brings Andy a fake passport and family photos. The two brothers finally put their differences aside and fighting back tears, they embrace and Robert then watches his brother drive away for good.
Robert wants to commit to Aaron and asks Paddy for his blessing. Although Paddy isn't happy about it, he agrees not to interfere with their relationship. After overhearing a conversation between Robert and his former sister-in-law Rebecca White, Lachlan spitefully tells Aaron about Robert's fling which occured years before. This leads to a heated discussion between the couple in which Robert finally admits he is bisexual. Leaving Lachlan in the boot of Aarons car, they take a walk through a nearby forest where Robert opens up about his relationship with Jack, and how his father caught him with a boy when he was 15. Robert insists Jack didn't want a son like him so he buried his feelings, but now he just wants to be himself. They share a tender kiss and Robert is about to propose before remembering he left the ring in the car. While driving, another heated discussion leads to Robert blurting out that he was going to propose. At this point, they are rapidly approaching the huge Hotten Bypass car pile-up and so Aaron swerves to the left, crashing into a water filled quarry. Robert manages to save Aaron from the submerged car but he is taken to hospital where he is taken into surgery. Robert heads back to the quarry to retrieve the ring. As Robert, Chas and Liv keep vigil at his bedside, Aaron comes round and accepts Robert's proposal.
Robert and Aaron prepare for Lachlan's plea hearing, discussing the possibility of finally clearing Andy's name as well as their wedding plans. Robert reiterates that even though his underhand tactics against Chrissie may not be agreeable, all he really wants is to get Andy home. Back at the pub, Aaron informs Robert that Lachlan pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. Robert is satisfied with the result and tells Aaron the deal with Rebecca is off. The next day, things are still tense between them and Charity and Chas moan about the couple's constant bickering as well as how overcrowded the pub is which prompts Liv to ask Aaron and Robert why they can't get their own place. Later that evening, Robert learns that The Mill is up for auction. Liv offers to chip in using her inheritance but Aaron flat out refuses to use Gordon's money. Robert tells Aaron that having some security is just what Liv needs and the move would be good for them all.
2017-: Wedding to Aaron, Rebecca's pregnancy & revenge against the Whites Edit
Robert attends Lachlan's trial with Diane, Victoria and Bernice where they express their disgust at Chrissie for not admitting to framing Andy and letting her son take the fall for everything. Lachlan is acquitted of attempted murder but the judge reminds the teen that he had already pleaded guilty to perjury and is therefore remanded in custody until his sentencing, leaving the Whites in shock and the Sugdens delighted with the result.
Following a suggestion from Charity, Robert and Aaron decide to have a secret wedding in Vegas. However, the next day, Robert is celebrating a business deal with Rebecca when Aaron bursts in. Fed up with his insecurity and jealousy, this leads to a heated argument between the pair, after which Robert tells Aaron he can't do this anymore and removes his engagement ring. Later that night, after a chat with Vic, Robert tells Aaron he doesn't want to give up on them but they are interrupted by the police. To Robert's dismay, Aaron is arrested for attacking Kasim. The next day, Robert is angry to learn it was Finn who called the police on Aaron. Aaron is released on bail and offers Robert the chance to walk away for good but Robert promises to stick by him. Robert admits to Chas about his and Aaron's plans to elope before Aaron got arrested. Later, Aaron returns from the police station after giving a second interview and informs Robert of his impending court date. Robert promises to support him no matter what happens. Their argument from before is forgotten about and they make up. Robert attends Lachlan's sentencing where the teen is given 5 months in prison, leaving the Sugdens hopeful that they are one step closer to getting Andy home. After Chrissie bitterly blames the Sugdens for Lachlan's predicament, Victoria finally snaps and tells Chrissie that because of her, Andy doesn't know his daughter, Sarah has cancer, leaving her and Lawrence shaken.
Robert is concerned about Aaron when he suffers a panic attack brought on by stress of his upcoming trial. After confiding in Chas, Robert wants to make sure Aaron and Liv feel more secure and decides he wants to marry Aaron the next day. The next morning, with the help of his family, Liv and the rest of the Dingles, Robert sets up the wedding in the Woolpack. Aaron is thrilled when Robert springs the surprise on him but just as the service gets underway, the police turn up looking for Faith. Upset, Robert walks off and Aaron follows him to the garage. Robert laments that he wanted this day to be perfect but Aaron assures him it doesn't matter and produces the rings. They exchange their vows in private and then return to the pub where they are congratulated by their family and friends. Later that night, Aaron slips away from the party and apologises to Robert for messing up and having to leave him; Robert understands Aaron's fears and gently assures him however long he's gone for, it'll pass and he'll wait for him. The next day, Aaron is sentenced to 12 months in prison. Robert is devastated and swears to appeal. Paddy soon comes to see him and the two men finally reach an understanding over their mutual love for Aaron. When Liv later asks Robert if he's going to send her away to her mum in Ireland, Robert gently assures her she's not going anywhere and hugs her close.
Robert visits Aaron in prison where the pair struggle to hide their true feelings for eachother. They make small talk and Robert gently squeezes Aaron's leg under the table which is unfortunately seen by Aaron's homophobic inmate Jason. Later, Robert tells Charity about Aaron being forced to hide his sexuality but she reminds him that in prison it's survival of the fittest and he'll need to do whatever it takes. The next day, Robert is dismayed to learn from Chas that the other inmates have worked out Aaron's sexuality after their intimate moment was spotted. Robert and Chas try to convince themselves that Aaron is tough and he can handle it. Robert visits Aaron again and apologises for the trouble he caused but Aaron assures him he's fine. Later that evening Robert reports back to Chas that Aaron seems to be handling things and per his advice, tells her to visit Sarah in Prague assuring his mother in law he can handle things while she's away.
Robert is furious to discover someone has vandalised The Mill with cruel slurs about Aaron. After some coercion from Vic, Robert admits he's been spending his nights on the Woolpack sofa because he can't face sleeping in the bed without Aaron. Vic advises her brother to share his problems with Aaron when he calls. Later, Liv and Robert get a phone call from Aaron but Robert finds himself unable to open up. The next day, after taking Liv to visit Aaron, Robert is worried when Paddy tells him that Aaron has been fighting and that an argument occurred between the two siblings. Robert gently tries to get Liv to open up to him but she assures him everything's fine.
Robert learns that a date has been set for Aaron's appeal but his good mood soon disappears when the school sends him a fine for Liv's frequent truancy. The next day, Robert admits to Adam and Victoria he is feeling increasingly out of his depth and is at a loss when Liv is expelled for coming to Gabby's defence and punching another student. Rebecca offers to look after her while Robert visits Aaron in prison. Later, Robert returns extremely agitated about not being allowed to see Aaron due to an "incident". Robert is shocked and angry when Liv admits to him that Aaron has been taking drugs. He goes to the prison to seek answers and is dismayed by Aaron's attitude. He tries to remind Aaron of their future with Liv but is met with indifference. Thinking his marriage is over, Robert downs a bottle of whiskey before trashing The Mill and texts Rebecca to come over. After initially rebuffing Robert's drunken attempt to kiss her, they fall into bed together. The next day, Rebecca comes to find Robert; he tells her he made a mistake and begs her not to tell Aaron. Furious, Rebecca threatens to do as she pleases. Later, Robert admits to Chas about Aaron taking drugs before confessing his infidelity. Livid, Chas slaps him before going to Home Farm and doing the same to Rebecca, warning her to stay away from Aaron. Robert tries to apologise and asks to see Aaron the following day but Chas orders him to stay away, saying he's not part of their lives anymore.
Robert and Chas learn that Aaron's appeal has been successful and he will be released in a few weeks. They head to prison together and after Aaron apologises for the way he spoke to him during his last visit, Robert steels himself to confess about Rebecca but Chas suddenly interjects, saying he only trashed the new flat. Back at the pub, Chas tells Robert she only covered for him for Aaron's sake and warns him to make sure Rebecca doesn't say anything. Robert consoles Liv after she admits feeling guilty for grassing on Aaron about the drugs and assures her she did the right thing by telling him. When Liv learns Sandra has been injured while on holiday, Chas offers to take her abroad to see her. Robert pays for their flights and accommodation but before she departs, Chas asks him to look after Aaron, warning him if he hurts her son, she will reveal all about Rebecca.
The following week, Robert goes to collect Aaron. After waiting nervously outside the prison gates, they are reunited and share an emotional embrace. Back at the village, Rebecca gatecrashes Aaron and Sarah's coming home party and Robert is anxious when he sees her talking to Aaron who then quickly makes a sharp exit. Fearing Rebecca has told Aaron what happened between them, Robert follows Aaron outside and discovers him having a panic attack. He tries to comfort him but is shocked when Aaron suddenly punches him in the face. Robert starts to apologise and is confused when Aaron says sorry for hitting him. They head to the Mill together and Robert is devastated to learn about what happened to Aaron when he was in prison and the effect Gordon still has on him. Robert gently assures Aaron he'll get through this and promises to get him help for his problems.
When Aaron is upset about not being able to support Liv, Robert decides to take him on a picnic to cheer him up. They have a great time together but on the way back to the village they are shocked to overhear Rebecca is pregnant. Panicking that it may be his, Robert later seeks her out and is distraught when she tells him he's the father. He soon regains his composure, demanding Rebecca to have an abortion and threatens her not to say a word to Aaron. Later, he supports Aaron at his first counselling session. The next day, Robert meets Rebecca outside the abortion clinic and is frustrated when she tells him she has to wait another month before anything can be done. Ross witnesses their confrontation and deducing the situation, blackmails Robert for £5000 to keep his silence. Panicking, Robert suggests to Aaron that they leave for a while to visit Chas and Liv. Robert gives Ross half the demanded sum and leaves Rebecca a voicemail warning her to get her ex to back off. Spotting Ross nearby, Robert hurries Aaron into the car and they depart, leaving Ross fuming.
Robert and Aaron return a month later and upon seeing Rebecca, Robert is dismayed to learn she hasn't had an abortion in his absence but she agrees to do so. Ross starts blackmailing Robert again until Robert begs Rebecca to get him to back off and he complies but not before making Robert feel more guilty about lying to Aaron. Robert and Aaron move into the Mill and during an intimate moment, Robert finally breaks down and confesses everything to Aaron, leaving him devastated. Reeling from the betrayal, Aaron removes his ring and orders Robert to leave. Robert asks Vic to check on Aaron and finally snaps when Ross goads him in the pub. Later that evening, Aaron asks Robert to come back to the house so they can talk. They have a heartfelt discussion about everything during which Robert apologises for his actions and assures Aaron that he is everything to him. Aaron tells Robert he wants to forgive him and they agree to start again. However, the next day Robert and Aaron are left reeling when they learn Rebecca is still pregnant. Robert assures Aaron it changes nothing and he won't see the child but Aaron tearfully tells him there's no escaping it and it'll always be a reminder of what he did, leaving Robert broken. Despite Vic's pleas, Robert is adamant he doesn't want to be involved in the baby's life but is surprised when Aaron has a change of heart and promises to support him if he does choose to be involved, saying he'd be a good dad. When Rebecca is suddenly rushed to hospital with stomach pains, Aaron convinces Robert to make sure everything is ok. The next day, Chrissie informs Robert that Rebecca has left the village and Robert is satisfied its for the best.
Robert and Aaron are unsettled when Rebecca returns to the village and announces she'll be staying with Victoria. The next day she has her first scan and Robert tries to feign indifference but Aaron can see the situation is upsetting him more than he's letting on. After Ross openly mocks the couple in the pub, Robert swears revenge for the way Ross extorted him. He and Aaron crush Ross' taxi who is left seething and soon retaliates by stealing Robert's car, demanding a lump sum of money as payback. However, with a little help from Adam, Robert and Aaron gain leverage over Ross again when they stumble across his secret cannabis plantation at Wylies Farm. They take the lot and send Ross a text saying to meet them at Moira's farm. When he arrives, Ross is horrified to find the couple loading the weed into a wood chipper. Robert threatens to destroy it unless Ross returns his car keys to him. Ross complies but Robert gleefully destroys the weed anyway. Later, Robert is thrown when Aaron chastises him for his behaviour and argues that his feud with Ross is a pointless distraction from the more pressing issue of Rebecca's pregnancy which he keeps trying to avoid and tells his husband to get his act together, leaving Robert conflicted. The next day, Robert and Aaron are shaken when Ross tells them about the real owners of the weed and about Harriet getting stabbed. Aaron worries about their implication but Robert advises him to remain calm. Rebecca approaches Robert to try and discuss the baby's future. Frustrated, Robert dismisses her but appears to relent when Aaron reminds him he has his support. Later, Robert approaches Ross who informs him that Harriet recovered from her surgery and learns the extent of the Bartons' financial troubles. The two men call a truce and end their feud.
Robert is elated upon learning a former investment has paid off and excitedly tells Aaron the news that they are financially secure for life but his husband is less than impressed, reminding him of how hard it was to use Gordon's money to buy the house, leaving Robert deflated. The next day Robert tries to make amends by offering Aaron £100,000 to give to Liv to pay for the Mill but Aaron berates him, saying he wants to know he comes before money and flippantly tells Robert to burn it. To prove his love to his husband, Robert complies. Shocked, Aaron calls his bluff and they quickly work together to recover the money. They manage to salvage what they can and head to the bank but on the way they come across a stranded Rebecca who is en route to a scan. Aaron insists that Robert give her a lift and walks back to the village. Robert and Rebecca head to the hospital where they learn they are having a boy. After some encouragement from Vic, Robert offers to set up a trust fund for the baby and Rebecca gives him a copy of the scan. Later, Robert goes home and after apologising once again for the whole situation, he tells Aaron the news that he is having a son. The next day after chatting with Adam and Cain, Robert confronts Aaron about what's troubling him. Aaron tries to be evasive but eventually reveals that he almost took drugs as well as his self-harm injuries. Robert is horrified to learn the extent of his husband's turmoil and is devastated when Aaron tells him he doesn't want to fight for their marriage anymore because the baby will be a constant reminder of his infidelity. Robert pleads with Aaron to reconsider and suggests they leave the village for good. The next day, Robert tells Aaron he's booked them one-way flights to Dublin and ensures him there's no looking back. He then goes to see Rebecca and informs her about his departure before handing her a large sum of money and a photo of Jack, saying he wants his son to have someone to look up to. When he arrives back in the village, Robert is stunned when Aaron hurls a wrench at his car then tackles him to the ground. Aaron pulls out the scan photo and throws it at Robert's feet before storming off. Adam soon has to take Aaron to hospital for medical attention after he collapses from his self harm wounds and warns Robert to stay away. Later at the Mill, Aaron despondently tells Robert he can't deal with things anymore, ending their relationship and hands back his wedding ring, leaving Robert heartbroken. The next day, Robert's hopes of a reconciliation are raised when Aaron asks to meet him but he is devastated when Aaron tells him he needs time away and leaves the village to stay with Chas and Liv.
In the aftermath of his split from Aaron, Robert continues on a downward spiral, getting drunk and verbally abusive towards Chrissie and Rebecca, forcing Vic to throw him out of the Woolpack. He tumbles down the stairs at the Mill, trapping his ankle in the process. Victoria and Charity hear his cries and manage to free him but have a laugh at his expense. Rebecca takes sympathy on Robert and takes him to the hospital to get checked over. Later Robert breaks down in front of her, telling her how empty he feels without Aaron and apologises for his behaviour over the past few months. When Aaron returns to the village Robert begs him for another chance but Aaron tells him its too late. Dejected, Robert moves into the B&B. A few days later Robert is concerned when he learns Aaron has taking up boxing and pleads with Zak to stop training him, fearing he'll overdo it. However, Aaron is furious when he finds out and tells Robert he doesn't need his concern.
In a bid to take revenge on the Whites and seize Home Farm for himself, Robert secretly sabotages business so Rebecca is forced to ask him for help. He offers to keep an eye on things and drum up potential clients. Robert makes himself comfortable in his old house but is frustrated when he learns Lawrence has discharged himself from hospital following his recent aneurysm. Hoping to delay his former father in law's recovery for as long as possible, Robert slips some sleeping tablets into a bottle of Lawrence's brandy to keep him out of the way. The next day, an inebriated Lawrence ploughs into a Home Farm publicity event, nearly running over Vic in the process. Robert, decides to rethink his strategy and in addition to the sleeping pills, emotionally manipulates the family by pretending to care about Bex's pregnancy and Lawrence's health respectively. Robert is caught off guard when Aaron enquiries about the sleeping pills, having found one at the scrapyard. Robert admits he's not coping since the split and Aaron gives him his counsellor's phone number so he can talk to someone. Robert is horrified when he learns that Aaron intends to fight his prison nemesis Jason in a boxing match. Fearing for his husband's life, Robert pays the thug not to fight but his plan backfires when Jason tells him the fight will go ahead and makes threats on Aaron's life. However the next day Robert is relieved when Aaron walks away from the fight and humiliates Jason in the process. They go for a drink but Bex interrupts them after which Aaron realises Robert is plotting something to do with Home Farm and tells him he doesn't care anymore leaving Robert more frustrated than ever to bring down the Whites. After Dr Cavanagh is called out to examine Lawrence, Robert panics that his drugging scheme will be exposed and manages to sneak into the medical centre to sabotage Lawrence's blood samples. Later, Bex informs Robert that Lawrence has agreed to stop drinking and will be returning to the business. His plans scuppered, Robert trashes the office in a fit of rage.
Robert is dismayed when Liv angrily confronts him and Rebecca over what happened in her absence. After a heated confrontation at Home Farm, Robert is distraught when he finds Liv unconscious after drinking from Lawrence's spiked brandy. He rushes her to hospital and admits to Aaron what happened. Aaron is furious that his ex husband's actions have inadvertently put Liv's life in danger. He threatens to kill Robert if she doesn't pull through, leaving him shaken. Liv recovers quickly and sets Aaron up on a date with a handsome doctor as Robert watches on heartbroken. Unable to deal with Aaron seemingly moving on with his life, Robert steps up his revenge against the Whites by pretending to bond with Lawrence, getting him drunk and tricking him into believing they slept together, leaving his former father in law horrified. In exchange for Robert's silence, Lawrence agrees to meet an investor interested in Home Farm who is actually an actor hired by Robert. Lawrence is convinced to sign over a large percentage of the company which unbeknownst to him is now in Robert's control.
- Christopher Smith was axed from the role of Robert in May 2001 after twelve years as a result of ITV wanting an older actor cast in order to involve the character in more adult storylines. Karl Davies was subsequently cast in the role. In September 2001, Christopher sued Yorkshire Television for unfair dismissal.
- In 2005, it was announced that either Robert or Andy or Max King would be killed in a car accident that would take place in October of that year. The decision to kill off one character came after actor Charlie Kemp quit the show and producers decided to have Karl Davies written out, as well.
- In 2014, Karl Davies expressed that he would not rule out a return to Emmerdale, telling Digital Spy, "I'm still really glad to be working and to be part of some lovely stuff, so at the moment I'm very happy but who knows in the future? I love what I do and if that means a return to Emmerdale then so be it, but at the moment that's not on the cards." Davies also said that people still recognised and remembered him from his role in Emmerdale, saying, "It's still very much in people's memories - I don't quite know how! I've almost forgotten what I did, but people still linger on that. I guess it's 'cos you're in their house every night - six nights a week [or] whatever it was at the time. People still seem to remember that character - nearly a decade later which is very strange."
- In September 2014 it was confirmed that Robert would be returning but not played by Davies instead the role being recast with Ryan Hawley now playing him. Series producer Kate Oates said: "I'm delighted to welcome Ryan to the show. Robert is a complex character and when we were looking for someone to take over the role, Ryan had the perfect balance of charm and edge, Robert Sugden's life has moved on in many ways... but those ingrained feelings - about his father, Andy, Katie, and the village where he grew up - are sure to find an explosive outlet."
"Yeah, no problem, thanks. Lived here all me life." - First line spoken by Karl Davies as Robert.
"Why don't you just get back to your pathetic little farm, Andy? Where are you gonna be in ten years, eh? Twenty years? Scratching about for a living on your own except for your half dozen kids by as many thick girls, who are still too smart to put up with you for the rest of their life. You might as well top yourself now, save hanging round."
"I'll never forget you." - Final line spoken by Karl Davies as Robert, as he places a rose on his dad's grave.
"No matter what you do, no matter what I do, you're my brother. This is where my family is. I can't leave" - to Andy after their confrontation at Wilson's Field.
"You're not going anywhere." - to Katie Sugden before pushing her through rotten floorboards.
"When something matters to me, I lie, I cheat, I do whatever it takes. And you matter to me. So, however much I'm trying to change for you, I can't swear something like that will never happen again. What I can swear is that I'll keep fighting it, and I'll keeping trying to change for you, for the better. But is that enough?" - to Aaron when discussing their relationship.
"What is it about you, me and country roads, eh?" - to Andy after he rescues him.
"I don't want easy. I want messed up, with you... forever." - to Aaron when discussing their future.
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