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Sam Healy MSW was a main character and a former corrections officer and inmate counselor at Litchfield Penitentiary. He is the first season's secondary antagonist. He is portrayed by Michael Harney.

He formerly resided in the Eastern Psychiatric Institute.


A complex figure, Healy has periods of sternness and stubbornness followed by periods of genuine care. Most of his flashbacks reveal a troubling childhood, which may explain his behavior and near hatred for women. From the beginning he is shown to be very chauvinistic. His jealous crusade against Berdie Rogers also revealed his determination for his job. Though he does genuinely care about his counselees, he is far too blinkered by his biases to be of any help to most of the women he works with. 

Right at the beginning of the series, when he first meets Piper Chapman, he states to her that she should be aware of lesbians and that he hopes she is not one. Later, when Tiffany Doggett shows him Piper and Alex Vause dancing provocatively ("they lesbianing together!"), he gets so angry that he sends Piper to the SHU, claiming she would have tried to rape Alex. He once even made a suggestion to his superiors that all lesbian inmates should be sent to a separate prison from the heterosexual ones. He also possesses a book that claims women would plan to rule the world over men and enslave them, based on the idea of lesbianism.

He is shown as unsympathetic when he encountered Doggett attempting to kill Piper; he simply looked away and pretended nothing was happening even though Piper was begging for his help. Among other things, Healy appears to not believe in global warming and has an often stereotypical view of various inmates based on their ethnicity.

Despite this, Healy has been shown to have a good side. He secured Piper a furlough to see her dying grandmother, partly out of guilt for ignoring her when Doggett tried to kill her and after having a moment of clarity with Joe Caputo about looking after the inmates. He is shown sharing his cookie with Doggett and comforting her after she was ostracized by Leanne Taylor and Angie Rice. This in turn led to a positive friendship between him and Doggett. When Red was viciously beaten up by Yvonne Parker (Vee), Healy showed large concern for her, and after realizing it was Vee, not Suzanne Warren, who had assaulted Red, Healy went to big lengths to clear Warren and see Vee pay for the crime, even going as far as fabricating details in order to convict Vee.

In Season 4, Healy develops a strong connection to Lolly Whitehill. He feels warmth toward her because she struggles with paranoid delusions like his mother did. He stops Desi Piscatella from throwing her into the psych ward, instead trying to help talk through her issues and to defeat the voices inside her head. He is deeply sad when he discovers that she was responsible for the murder in the garden shed, and considers committing suicide rather than turning her in.

Red is shown to have a large amount of respect for Healy, which is shown when she furiously defends Healy to his Ukrainian mail order bride, Katya, stating that "he may not be perfect but at least he's trying".

In Season Six, once Sam recieves psychiatric help, he becomes more mellowed out and a lot more spiritual, and tells Joe Caputo to start being happier after the riot.

Physical Appearance[]

Healy is an older white man with a brooding look. He often uses glasses to read fine print. He has white hair and blue eyes.


For a list of episodes featuring Healy's flashbacks, see here.

Before Litchfield[]

Healy is first shown in flashbacks interacting with his mentally ill mother. She violently throws an ashtray against the wall when he brings her food, then she immediately asks him to dance on top of a bed with her ("Mother's Day").

On one occasion as a child, Healy fearfully ran to a church after his mother became "sick" again. He sees a man that he thinks is Jesus, though he is really just a homeless person. The man vomits on Healy ("Trust No Bitch").

At an unspecified later time, Healy's father, Dennis, had his mother, Margaret, admitted for psychiatric treatment, and the kids at school teased Healy, saying that his mom was a lesbian. Healy asked his father what lesbians were and Dennis gave a very homophobic answer, which is possibly the root of Healy's own homophobia in later life.

Sam Young

A young Sam awaits his mother's return.

After his mother was discharged, she seemed better, but Sam woke to her making him breakfast in the middle of the night. After a discussion with his mother in which he told her that he wanted her to continue with the ECT treatments and be normal, Healy's mother seemed to acquiesce, and walked out of the house to turn off the garden sprinklers. However, when Sam went to look for her in the garden, she had vanished. ("Doctor Psycho")

Healy has apparently never seen his mother again, and this seems to have shaped his negative views on women, while his father's discussion about lesbianism being an illness probably did the same for that issue. 

At some point in his life, Sam gained a master's degree in social work.

In later years, Healy is seen taking one of his social work clients on a date, something the woman is clearly uncomfortable with. They exit a movie theater that is hosting an Ingmar Bergman film festival, as well as advertising Welcome To The Dollhouse, which suggests the year is 1995. She says goodnight as soon as the movie they were seeing has ended, and Healy wanders around the city. He spies a homeless woman who strongly resembles his mother, and takes her for a meal, saying he never blamed her and just wants to help her. The woman seems confused but stays with him at the restaurant. However, he spies a hospital wristband on her wrist claiming her to be someone else, a woman called Ellen. He begs her to stay with him, and when she tries to leave, he grows angry at her, grabbing her wrist and saying, "You think anyone else is gonna help you now? Huh?". She pulls herself away and runs, and Healy stares after her.


Healy meeting Red for the first time ("Moscow Mule").

Life at Litchfield[]

Healy began working at Litchfield many years ago. He is seen welcoming Red to prison ("Moscow Mule").

Season One[]

A complex figure in the prison, Healy initially seems to be on Piper's side and dispenses advice on how stay out of trouble. He expects that Chapman will serve as his informant and puppet, but she resists all such attempts. He progresses into an antagonist for Chapman, sending her to SHU on Thanksgiving for provocative dancing (because of his homophobia and hate of lesbians), and ultimately turning a blind eye as Doggett tries to kill her.

Season Two[]

In Season Two, Healy attempts to atone for his actions in the first season and manages to secure a furlough for Piper to go and see her dying grandmother.

Healy has a Ukrainian mail-order bride named Katya, who speaks limited English. Their relationship is dysfunctional, in large part as a result of their inability to communicate, but also because Katya is disgusted by him. Also, in a conversation with her mother, Katya implied that she is using him to secure a green card. He previously sought relationship advice and translation from Red, but she is unwilling to help once their relationship ceased to be mutually beneficial.

In "40 OZ of Furlough", Healy is seen visiting a therapist. He discusses his marriage, quick temper, and dissatisfaction with his job. In subsequent scenes with his therapist, Healy gives answers and reactions akin to the inmates. It's unclear if these are his authentic reactions or if he's using the therapist's responses as a guide for his own attempts at counseling in the prison. He takes Doggett under his wing and agrees to counsel her weekly, in addition to creating a support group called "Safe Place". The group is later cancelled by Healy due to the fact that no one shows up, but he and Doggett remain close friends.

Season Three[]

We see a flashback of him and his mother, where his mother is mentally unstable, drawing on the wall with lipstick, throwing an ashtray at young Sam then asking him to come dance with her on the bed. He also created an enemy when new counselor Berdie Rogers shows up. When Brook Soso came to him for counseling for her depression he told her that depression is "all in here" (pointing to the head). He was also wholly convinced that Soso should take antidepressants rather than get some sort of therapy for her depression, something which eventually culminates in her attempting to commit suicide with stolen allergy medication.

However, he grows closer to Red in this season. She helps him translate for his wife and calls him “A good man” and “A handsome man” in an attempt to call out Katya for her bad behavior towards Sam. Healy begins to flirt with Red, bringing her flowers. She begins to flirt back, until he realizes that her niceness was only to manipulated him in order to get back onto the kitchen staff. After being upset about this, Red confronts him, asking “Do you think this is a normal relationship?”. He helps her to get back into the kitchen regardless.

At Lorna Morello's wedding in the visitor's room, both Healy and Red are present and share a meaningful look when Lorna and Vince exchange their vows. Red sadly tells him after the wedding that "their ships passed too late in the night", but gives him the paper bouquet she wore to the ceremony. He is later seen in his office, looking between Red's bouquet and the lunch that Katya has left for him in an attempt to bring them closer together, with an air of sad confusion.

Season Four[]

When Lolly Whitehill confesses to murder and dumping the body in the prison garden, Healy believes Whitehill is delusional and didn't really murder the guard. However, when the body is found in the garden, Healy becomes more depressed, calling his wife, leaving his phone on the beach, and walking into the lake in an attempt to commit suicide. However, the phone rings, and, thinking it is his wife, he gets out of the lake, only to find out it is work. Returning to work, Healy turns Whitehill into Psych, whom he had previously bonded with (likely due to memories of his mother), tearfully staring at her as she screams for help.

Later, in "The Animals", he is seen walking into the Eastern Psychiatric Institute with a bag. Whilst it initially appeared that he may have been visiting his mother, he was actually checking himself in.

He is seen again in "Toast Can't Never Be Bread Again", watching TV during Caputo's broadcast surrounding Poussey Washington's death.

Season Six[]

Somewhere between the end of season 4 and the beginning of season 6, Healy has left the mental institution. His last appearance is in "Shitstorm Coming" telling Caputo to move on after the riot after he's become more mellowed out and spiritual.

Season Seven[]

Healy makes one more appearance in "Me as Well " where he is now working as a clerk at Siren Smoothie. In this appearance Caputo meets Healy at Siren Smoothie to ask him for advice on how to deal with Fischer's accusation of sexual assault against Caputo, which Fischer has posted on Facebook. He tells Caputo to deal with the issue head on and he talks of how he once used to squeeze his coworkers shoulders, much to her dismay. This resulted in them not being allowed to be on the same shift.


  • Healy's brother is an insurance appraiser.
  • He may have been at Woodstock, as identified by Yoga Jones in "Fake It Till You Fake It Some More". He said he was ten when he attended the festival, so if it was indeed Woodstock, Healy would be in his 50s.
  • Michael J. Harney was credited during all the episodes of Season Five despite making no appearance.
  • Sam has the abbreviation of MSW next to his name, meaning he has a master's degree in social work.
  • He is allergic to eggs.



  • Katya Healy (wife) - Katya seems to be a mail order bride, she came to the United States from Ukraine to marry Sam, but does not seem to want much to do with him. She and her mother live in Sam's home but rarely interact with him in anyway other than complaining, even when he does manage to make an effort.
  • Red (had feelings for each other, but never acted upon)


  • Joe Caputo (sometimes)
  • Tiffany Doggett
  • Red
  • Lolly Whitehill - Healy was Lolly's counselor and the two talked often. Lolly confided in Healy about killing the guard who attacked Alex, but Healy didn't believe her until his body turned up in the garden. Lolly seemed to trust Healy a lot, which is difficult for her. After the murder was revealed, Healy accompanied her during the walk to Psych, and when he stopped she screamed his name half way down the hallway.
  • Judy King (former)
  • Joel Luschek


  • Piper Chapman (former) - Healy initially had a crush on Piper. He saw her as smarter, more educated and more civilized than the other women, and hoped that she could assist him in making the prison a smoother and quieter place. His attraction to her quickly soured when he found out that she was bisexual. Nonetheless, he felt guilty for throwing her into the SHU and turning a blind eye to her Christmas pageant attack, and tried to make up by granting her a furlough to visit her grandmother. Afterwards, Chapman and Healy seemed to be on neutral grounds with each other, although both of them have stopped talking to each other. 
  • Alex Vause
  • Berdie Rogers - A new female counselour at Litchfield, with better qualifications and a higher popularity among the inmates, Healy felt competed and threatened by Berdie Rogers. He eventually used Suzanne Warren's erotica which Suzanne created for her drama class, to get her suspended.
  • Judy King - Sam attempted to show some form of affection towards Judy King as a son figure. However, when Judy begins making friends with Joel Luschek, he abandons her when he overhears them discussing him.
  • Brook Soso - Healy failed to help Brook with her depression.

Memorable Quotes[]

"Lesbian request denied."
— Sam Healy)
"A couple of years ago we found two women naked from the waist down."
— Sam Healy ("Moscow Mule")
"Behind every strong man is a strong cunt-faced witch monster."
— Healy to Caputo, about Fig ("Low Self Esteem City")
" It's Alex Vause, you dumb b*tch."
— Sam Healy)
" So, love is the lie we tell ourselves so we don’t go extinct? That's pretty bleak, Red, even for you."
— Sam Healy
"Look, everyone wants to go back in time sometimes [...], but it's not possible. All we can do is make the most of right now."
— Sam Healy to Lolly ("It Sounded Nicer in My Head")
" If someone jumps into shark-infested waters, you can't jump in after them. "
— Sam Healy)


Season 1[]

"I Wasn't Ready"[]


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