Abused teenager, Adrienne Johnson, came to Salem after running away from home where she was beaten by her father Duke. Upon arriving in town, she befriended and moved in with Kayla Brady, who was coincidentally seeing her estranged brother Steve. When he recognized some mementoes of his childhood amongst Adrienne's possessions she realized Steve was one of her siblings whom their mother gave away to avoid having them raised by an abusive father. Adrienne revealed this to Steve, yet the happiness over their reunion was short lived.
Duke came to Salem in search of Adrienne and, when he found her alone, he beat and raped her. After the attack, she found a gun then shot and killed her father, yet blocked the incident out of her head. To protect his sister, Steve took the rap for the murder and the case went to trail. Moments before he was to be sentenced, Adrienne's memory suddenly returned and she confessed to the crime. However, when the judge listened to her heartbreaking story, he ruled the murder was in self-defense and Adrienne, as well as Steve, were cleared of all charges.
Later that year Adrienne met wealthy playboy Justin Kiriakis who posed as a construction worker in order to date her. When Adrienne eventually discovered his deceptions she was furious, yet had already fallen in love with him. In 1987, Justin and Adrienne married in Greece, yet once they returned to Salem things became rocky. She hated his illegal ties with the Kiriakis business and that stress caused her to miscarry when she became pregnant with their child. Justin accused her of purposely losing their child and the two grew further apart. Eventually, Justin chose to make their marriage work and moved out of the Kiriakis Mansion - leaving behind is uncle as well as their illegal dealings. Unfortunately for the couple, when Victor was shot Justin returned to the mansion to oversee the Kiriakis Empire. Adrienne, however, didn't return with him. Justin turned to Angelica Deveraux when Adrienne rejected him, and she became pregnant with his child.
As her husband's illegal dealings worsened, Adrienne sought comfort from the Kiriakis stable hand, Emilio Ramirez, and soon they began an affair. Justin was furious when he found out and arranged for Emilio to be killed in an accident, but ended up getting caught in his own trap and was paralyzed. The accident prompted the couple to reunite. In time Justin regained the use of his legs, but was impotent as a result of the accident. Adding more tension to their rekindled union, they learned that Angelica Deveraux's son Alexander was Justin's child, but they decided to stay together and work things out. Justin and Adrienne moved out of the Kiriakis mansion a short time later when Justin learned that his Uncle Victor was drugging him, causing his impotency. In an attempt to get back at him Justin hired a hooker name Yvette DuPres to seduce his uncle and con him into believing she was a wealthy baroness. Victor eventually learned the truth and was furious with him.
Angelica then moved in with Victor and planned to marry him knowing that it would kill Justin to have his son under Victor's roof. Justin refused to allow that happen by stopping the wedding and setting Angelica up in a lavish penthouse apartment. Fearing she was losing her husband Adrienne, under the advice of Victor, allowed Justin to believe she was pregnant. When Angelica learned and exposed the truth, both Justin and Adrienne agreed to get a divorce.
Soon the former spouses where in competition when both Adrienne and Justin decided to open construction companies. They also began dating again, which enraged Angelica. To keep them apart, Angelica bribed one of Adrienne's men to blow up a building her company was working on. As a result, Adrienne became trapped in a pit. Justin managed to rescue her and he claimed that he was responsible for the blast. However, when Angelica knew she would be discovered sooner or later, she fled town. Angelica's plane crashed and she and little Alexander were presumed dead. In reality, they had boarded another flight.
Justin and Adrienne grew closer because of the incident and Victor disowned him. Eventually they remarried on June 1, 1990. While honeymooning in Tahiti, they met Carly Manning who was on the run from Lawrence Alamain. However, this coincidental meeting caused problems for Adrienne, who was mistakenly snatched by a man who thought she was Carly. Adrienne was let go and she and Justin encouraged Carly to return to Salem with them.
Upon returning from their honeymoon, Justin and Adrienne took pity on Angelica's wacky housekeeper, J.J. Bagwood, and hired her as their own. Coincidentally, Justin and Adrienne were having problems conceiving, so when J.J. became pregnant she offered to give her twins to them. After the baby's births on September 19, 1990, their biological father, Stanley, came forward to claim them. Like their father, J.J. also had doubts about giving up the twins, but they soon realized that Justin and Adrienne could give them a better life. After handing over custody, both J.J. and Stanley left Salem. A short time later, Adrienne became pregnant and eventually gave birth to a health baby boy, Jackson. Needing a fresh start, they moved to Texas with their children and started the A.J. Construction Company. Before leaving Justin, Adrienne, and Victor all reconciled and Johnny Corelli reunited Justin with Alexander, the son who he believed had died.
Although Adrienne was unable to visit for Jack's funeral in 2003, she did call her sister-in-law, Jennifer, to offer her condolences. In 2007, she finally returned to Salem at Kayla's request to try to help Steve deal with his DiMera brainwashing. Justin and their children soon followed and they decided to make Salem their home once again. While trying to reestablish roots, she purchased a local bar, The Cheatin' Heart, and became a trusted confidante to niece Stephanie. Her time in Salem this time was much shorter, however, and in January of 2008 she and her family moved to Dubai where Justin accepted a new job. Although half way around the world, Adrienne remains in contact with her family as well as Max Brady whom she chose to manage the bar in her absence.
In March of 2010, Adrienne received a call from Hope, saying that Justin was in trouble. Adrianne rushed back to Salem to find that Justin was fine. Hope made up the story to get Adrianne back to Salem in hopes that Adrienne and Justin might reconcile. The two butted heads and once Adrienne realized that Justin had developed some feelings for Hope, Adrienne was furious. But, as Bo and Hope reconciled, Justin and Adrienne began growing closer as well. They went to Vegas to get remarried in April of 2011.
Their son Jackson, now going by Sonny, returned to Salem in June of 2011. He wanted to return to Salem to tell the members of his extended family that he was gay. Justin and Adrienne had known for years, but Sonny wanted to tell Victor and the rest of the family. All of his relatives were supportive. Justin was happy for Sonny when Sonny and Will began dating.
Justin assumed a larger role with Titan, heading up their legal division. He garnered a reputation as a good lawyer outside of business as well. E.J. came to Justin with a job offer -- to help E.J. take over the legal aspects of the DiMera Empire. The two men orchestrated an unlikely take-over thanks to a share holder's meeting. Victor and Adrienne were concerned that this would make Justin one of Stefano's targets. But, Justin was confident in his work.
E.J. came to Justin for help again when Sami was arrested for shooting Detective Joe Bernardi. Sami told Justin the truth, that Bernardi was standing over Rafe with a razor when she shot Bernardi in the back before even seeing his face. But neither Sami nor E.J. told Justin that they knew Bernardi was a dirty cop. They didn't tell Justin because it would expose how they knew that Bernardi was dirty -- Sami went to Stefano and asked him to remove some incriminating evidence against Will. Stefano agreed and had Bernardi remove the evidence. Sami tried to get the evidence from Bernardi, even attacking him, but she was unsuccessful.
However, Chad video taped Sami attacking Bernardi, thinking that Sami was just humorously acting out. Chad shared the video with Sonny, who shared it with Adrienne. When E.J. learned about the video, he kept the news from Justin.
Adrienne did not like Will's family and did not like that by dating Will, Sonny was associated with them as well. Adrienne tried to get Sonny to change his mind about Will, but he told her that while he loved her, he was a grown man and could make his own decisions. Justin also warned Adrienne to stay out of Sonny's life. But, she was determined.
When Adrienne discovered the video on her phone, she first went to see Sonny. But, because she had worn Sonny out with her nagging before, he stopped the conversation before they got in an argument. Then Adrienne went to see Justin. But, when Adrienne saw that Justin was considering a job offer from E.J. they got into a huge fight and Justin left rather than continue to argue with Adrienne.
Feeling as though she was protecting Sonny, Adrienne took the video to the D.A. in exchange for immunity from any potential charges for herself and Sonny. The D.A. was thrilled and charged Sami with first degree murder. Justin was furious with Adrienne for going behind his back and not only meddling in Sonny's life, but in Justin's professional life as well. Justin moved out of the mansion and into the club for a while.