Frankie came to Salem in 1986, with his little brother Max. Max wasn't actually related to Frankie, they were on the run from Max's father Trent. The Brady's gave Max and Frankie shelter, and eventually adopted them, giving them the last name Brady. Frankie Brady and Jennifer Horton met at school, and the two soon became a couple. When Jennifer's father Bill returned and tried to put a stop to her and Frankie, the two became engaged. Jennifer ended it when she learned both her mother and grandmother were schizophrenic. Jen feared she would contract or pass the condition on to any children she may have. Frankie and Jen had their share of problems, and Eve Donovan was one of them. Eve was in love with Frankie and wanted him for herself.
While Jen and Frankie were apart Frankie had an affair with Paula Carson, the women who ran the Teen Crisis Hotline Frankie worked on. Eve learned about the affair and exposed it after Jen and Frankie had reconciled, causing more trouble between them. Frankie eventually left Salem by the end of 1988. In 1990, Frankie was held captive by Lawrence Alamain because he was really Francois Von Leuschner, the brother of Lawrence's promised bride, Katerina Von Leuschner. Frankie was to be exchanged for the Von Leuschner fortune and Bo Brady. When Jack came to search for Jen, he was imprisoned in the cell next to Frankie. Both escaped and returned to Salem. Frankie still had feelings for Jennifer, but when he realized that Jack and Jen were in love he let go of his feelings for her.
Frankie became attracted to Eve, but Eve was selfish and he couldn't commit to her. When Eve asked Frankie to marry her, Frankie turned her down because he knew Eve was only after Nick's money that was left to her in his will. When Eve fled Salem because she was named a suspect in Nick's murder, Frankie pursued her and convinced her to return to Salem. In 1991, Brian Scofield found himself investigating Nick Corelli's murder as well. Brian & Melissa, Eve & Frankie, and Jack & Jen boarded a theme train on which Johnny Corelli had stashed the weapon that was used to kill his brother Nick. When they found the weapon, Johnny Corelli detached the car they were in and it rolled down a mountain pass and derailed into a cold forest. The couples split up and all tried to find their way out of the valley they found themselves trapped in. Eve eventually split away from Frankie and met up with a young woman named Molly Brinker. Molly drew Eve a map and Eve lead the party to a safe location and took the credit on her own. A helicopter retrieved the stranded Salemites, but Eve was seriously injured when she fell from the helicopter ladder.
Eve lived and was treated like a star in Salem until Molly showed up and pushed Eve off of her heroine pedestal. Frankie had told Eve he loved her, but after he learned that Eve had taken the credit for saving them he once again distanced himself from her. Eventually, Frankie was called to work for a charity organization in Africa helping the sick and hungry. Eve, who was madly in love with Frankie, gave up all the pleasures of society and departed Salem with Frankie.
Frankie eventually returned to Salem, keeping an eye on his younger brother Max. He and Max soon moved into the garage apartment at Jack and Jennifer's (recently vacated by Patrick Lockhart), and it became clear that Frankie was not over Jennifer. Frankie was immediately concerned about Max's romantic involvement with their niece, Chelsea, but his big worry came when he learned that Jack Deveraux was dying and Jack wanted him to look after Jennifer after he was gone. Frankie finally agreed, but when Jack died after his car went over an embankment, Jennifer asked him to leave town. Frankie finally decided to do just that, but a fall on the ice resulted in a broken leg that meant Frankie couldn't leave town as soon as he had planned.