Matthew first arrived in the village to join his brothers Jimmy and Carl and father Tom in business. The Kings had won a contract and were celebrating at the time. Matthew's heartless nature was shown when Carl was involved in the accidental death of postman Paul Marsden. Having moved the body and covered up Carl's involvement, Matthew conned Paul's widow Siobhan into selling him the cottage at a knockdown price. She left the area with her unborn baby.
At the funeral of one of Tom's closest friends, Matthew bedded the deceased's daughter before using squeeze Sian to make his next conquest Louise Appleton jealous. What Matthew wanted, he got, and it didn't take him long to convince Louise to end her relationship with Terry Woods and spark up a passionate affair with him.
However, as soon as Louise ditched Terry for him, Matthew began mistreating Louise. Louise didn't take it well and one night, in the Woolpack, warned Jimmy to keep an eye on Sadie. After that, Matthew began stalking Louise almost to make sure she kept her mouth shut but she visited him and hinted at what happened to men who mistreated her. Louise went home to Australia for a while.
2005-2006: Relationship with Sadie
In 2005, Matthew began a relationship with Jimmy's estranged wife, Sadie King. They had been together but she choose Jimmy over Matthew as she thought he would inherit the family business. Their affair brought out Matthew's more vulnerable side. Eventually he was in a position to take over his father's business empire, but Jimmy revealed the affair with Sadie. Tom forced Matthew to choose, and Matthew chose the business.
However, he couldn't live without Sadie, ruining her wedding to Alasdair Sinclair by declaring his love for her. Sadie encouraged him to deceive his family to gain a lucrative contract, which led them to disown him. After Matthew discovered Sadie was responsible for the show home collapse (which tragically claimed the lives of several Emmerdale residents and left his brother Jimmy partially paralysed), he was furious. Furthermore, Matthew discovered that in the wreckage following the disaster, Sadie had hit Jimmy over the head with a brick. Matthew was heartbroken when he realised exactly what Sadie was capable of and told her that their relationship was over, and that he never wanted to see her again.
2006-2008: Tom's death and shifting loyalties
When Tom was murdered on Christmas Day 2006, Matthew suspected his stepmother Rosemary Sinclair of committing the crime. However, there was evidence against all three King brothers suggesting that they had killed Tom together. They were therefore charged with conspiracy to murder. However, after the trial collapsed due to lack of evidence, Matthew was shocked to discover Carl was responsible and that Jimmy knew that Carl was responsible. Matthew was devastated, making it clear once more that underneath his cruel exterior, like his brothers, he was saddened by the lack of trust and closeness in their family.
However, this didn't stop him and his brothers threatening Rosemary that they would kill her if she didn't sell Home Farm Estates back to them. Fearing for her life, Rosemary agreed and moved into Mill Cottage with her son and daughter-in-law.
The most defining relationship Matthew had was with Perdita Hyde-Sinclair. Matthew took a keen interest in Perdy, having had a one-night stand with her in his office during the Home Farm ball. This deepened into friendship and they relied on each other for support and she gave him information about Rosemary. He wanted a more intimate relationship but she stayed with her husband, Grayson Sinclair.
Matthew realised Rosemary was responsible for Perdy's troubles after Rosemary drugged her and had her sectioned. He supported Perdy as he felt responsible for Rosemary moving into Mill Cottage and they grew closer. Perdy, however, struggled with her feelings for him but wanted to make her marriage work, especially after she discovered Katie Sugden, who was her surrogate, was pregnant. Matthew stunned Perdy by telling her he would wait for her and raise the baby as his own, if it meant he could be with her. Perdy was thrilled and they carried on their affair until Grayson found out and framed Matthew for his mother's 'murder'. Perdy found out when she discovered implicating evidence and a letter from Rosemary, telling Grayson that she was living in Miami. Perdy told Grayson she knew and blackmailed him into giving the letter to the police - she kept the cardigan and used it to blackmail Grayson for sole custody of the baby. She promised, in return, she wouldn't tell the police that he had helped frame Matthew - something that would end his legal career.
She left him on Christmas Day 2007, and Matthew invited her to move in with him. However, three months later, Matthew discovered Perdy was responsible for Katie having an accident and almost losing the baby and that she knew about Grayson's attempt to frame him for Rosemary's death. Matthew was so horrified at Perdy's behaviour, he threw her out and ended their relationship. When she went to see him a few days later, he told her he'd slept with her to upset Grayson.
That summer, Matthew had alienated almost everyone and Jimmy reminded him about the way he had treated Perdy and Matthew showed signs of remorse. When Perdy's baby son was born (Perdy and Matthew delivered the baby in Matthew's car), Katie told her to take the baby and escape Grayson forever. In a rare show of kindness, "for old time's sake", Matthew gave Perdy a cheque for £20,000, saying Katie could pay him back once she was out of hospital. Just before Perdy left, they appeared to have reached a truce after their turbulent friendship/relationship and it was noted onscreen that the pair briefly kept in touch when Perdy sent Matthew a letter with a picture of her and the baby enclosed.
2008: Relationship with Anna De Souza and demise
In early 2008, Carl felt increasingly isolated in the King business and family. He decided to go to work for their chief rival, Donald De Souza. Matthew was furious, especially when Carl interfered with their efforts to win a lucrative contract. One day during a golf game, Carl taunted Matthew about killing their father. In revenge, Matthew beat Carl with a golf club. Carl kept quiet about the identity of his attacker and Matthew took him home from the hospital and apologized, but Carl wasn't interested.
Matthew began to take an increasingly cold approach to business, chasing away Zak Dingle, Rodney Blackstock and Jasmine Thomas for various reasons. He blackmailed Carl's ex Lexi Nicholls into getting a job at De Souza Enterprises and working her way back into Carl's bed. Lexi reluctantly gave Matthew information about Carl's upcoming project. Matthew then created the project for King & Sons and invited Carl to the unveiling. A disgusted Jimmy pointed out to Matthew just how many people he had alienated and how lonely he'd become. Jimmy was on the verge of leaving the business and family for good. Matthew sensed some truth in Jimmy's warnings and came to an uneasy truce with Carl.
The love of Matthew's life turned out to be fiery businesswoman Anna De Souza, the daughter of Donald. Matthew and Anna first met after Carl decided to play a trick on her, and leave her stranded in a company truck on a narrow country lane. Their first reaction was a thorny one, with Matthew annoyed that he nearly crashed into the back of the truck, and Anna warning him to back off. However, the pair bonded over their mutual dislike of Carl, and their similarly ambitious business style. They played Carl at his own game and tricked him into believing that the truck had been impounded due to it being stolen.
It soon became clear that the two were attracted to each other, becoming friends and confidantes as well as business partners. Matthew, in particular, seemed smitten with Anna. She, however, was more interested in Carl after their previously frosty relationship thawed. Carl was ready to leave Lexi for Anna when Lexi told him that her mother had confided in her that Carl had killed his father. Knowing that she knew his secret, Carl felt he had no choice but to stay with Lexi. Anna was furious.
Matthew tried to kiss Anna after the two closed a successful business deal, but she pushed him away. She told him that their relationship could only ever be a business one. When he asked her if he was supposed to hide his feelings for her, she told him he had to if he wanted their relationship to continue. Undeterred, Matthew continued to chase Anna despite being knocked back a second time.
Meanwhile, King & Sons was in financial trouble and after taking pity on his brothers, Carl told one of De Souza Enterprise's richest clients about Matthew and Jimmy. When Donald heard about this, he had a heart attack. Matthew attempted to smooth things over between them, suggesting it would be more beneficial to work together than against each other. Donald agreed in Matthew's presence, but later told Anna to use Matthew's feelings for her against him. Incredulous, Anna questioned how far she was supposed to go, and devious Donald told her to go as far as she needed to reel Matthew in so that they could "spit him back out".
Unfortunately for Donald, spending so much time with Matthew meant they bonded and she soon realised that she was falling in love with him. After spending a romantic afternoon together, the pair could no longer deny the chemistry between them and ended up in bed. Though Matthew was suspicious of Anna's true motives, they started a relationship. Unaware, Donald offered Anna's services as a consultant for the Kings' business trip to Warsaw, thinking that it would give her an opportunity to gain valuable inside knowledge of King & Sons. He didn't count on Anna returning and finally admitting her love for his rival, destroying the information she had gathered. With a little persuasion from Katie, Matthew admitted to a thrilled Anna that he shared her feelings, telling her he loved her more than he imagined possible. The lovers vowed to stick together and start anew, despite the wrath of their families.
A few weeks later, Matthew returned from a second trip to Warsaw when Donald confronted him and offered to save King & Sons from financial ruin if Matthew ended his relationship with Anna. Matthew refused, stating he was willing to risk everything for Anna, and Donald warned him there would be consequences. When Matthew returned to Home Farm, Anna confessed that she had been feeding information to her father, but stopped as soon as she realised her feelings for him. Matthew was furious at first but believed Anna when she said she would turn her back on Donald, and taken aback when she asked him to marry her. He soon accepted her proposal and proved his joy by re-proposing to her the next day with an antique engagement ring that he had picked out, also telling her he had booked someone to marry them.
Matthew announced the engagement to a bemused Jimmy and jealous Carl, while Anna broke the news to an irate Donald and made preparations to move into Home Farm with her new fiance. Once again Donald begged Anna to end her relationship with Matthew, telling her she would be lost to him, but Anna was not to be swayed. A party was planned at Home Farm to celebrate Anna and Matthew's engagement, as well as the King's successful deal with Polek Haulage, and a seeming end to the family's financial worries. A furious Donald crashed the celebrations, soon causing a stir amongst the guests by announcing that Anna was only marrying Matthew to destroy the King family from the inside. Matthew angrily retorted that Donald had tried to buy him off, and managed to convince his family and the guests that Donald was lying to try and ruin his and Anna's relationship. Donald made a last-ditch attempt to scupper the engagement by telling Anna he would disinherit her as if she never existed, and accused the King brothers of conspiring to murder their father. Anna reiterated that she choose Matthew, and furiously ordered Donald to leave. Pained to see his fiancee so upset, Matthew tried to calm Anna by telling her that all that now mattered was them, and Donald would not split them because they were too strong together. While Anna slept, Matthew planned to confront Donald.
A furious argument between Matthew and Donald at Holdgate Farm the same night, ended in tragedy when the latter suffered a fatal heart attack. When Donald began to have chest pains, Matthew withheld his heart medication, saying Donald could have them when he agreed to attend the wedding. Making one last plea, Donald crashed to the floor, dead. A panicked Matthew wiped his prints from the pill bottle and fled the scene without calling for assistance. Donald's body was discovered the next day by Betty Eagleton and Laurel Thomas and a devastated Anna sobbed in Matthew's arms over the fact that her father died, believing she hated him. Matthew, consumed by guilt when the police confirmed that Donald died of natural causes, soon confessed to Carl, who told him that the guilt would eat him alive and begged him to tell Anna. Matthew refused to tell her, clearly terrified that he would lose her for good. Anna, meanwhile, insisted that their wedding plans continue, as the thought of marrying Matthew was the only thing helping her through her grief.
In the run-up to the wedding, the Kings gave up all they had due to their heavy debts. When the lawyers told Carl about Donald's involvement, Carl mistakenly believed Matthew and Anna had a secret deal to profit from the family's bankruptcy. Carl ruined Matthew and Anna's wedding by revealing Matthew's role in Donald's death, and a devastated Anna fled the scene. Back at Home Farm, Carl and Matthew erupted into a violent fist fight, barely stopped by Jimmy. Jimmy tried to keep Matthew from following Carl, but Matthew smashed out a window and got a van. He tried to run Carl down but at the last minute noticed that Anna was also in his path, swerved to avoid her, crashed into a wall and was catapulted through the windscreen. Despite Jimmy calling an ambulance, Matthew died on the scene in Anna's arms, after managing to choke out how much he loved her. Tragically, Carl did not have a chance to make up with Matthew: a sad end to their brotherly bonds.
Carl gave the eulogy at Matthew's memorial service, remembering the kind young man he'd been before their mother's death. Matthew's friends and family tried to reconcile the two very different sides of the man they'd lost. One of his biggest secrets was revealed after his death, when Jimmy and Carl found out what he did to Rosemary's coffin.
Matthew was proven capable of causing chaos wherever he went, ruining relationships and even causing death. However, he was also shown to be one to stick his neck out for his family and was even hinted to have had police officer DCI Grace Barraclough run over and killed in order to prevent his brother Carl being taken down for the murder of their father.
Although his elder brother Jimmy should have inherited their father's business, Matthew worked tirelessly to ensure Tom left it to him. The rivalry between them got nasty repeatedly. In later years, family loyalties began to shift, especially after Tom's death. Matthew and Carl grew apart and Jimmy tried to make peace between them as well as being Matthew's confidant.
However, Matthew was also characterised as a notorious womaniser, enjoying flings with the likes of Louise Appleton. However, he is arguably best remembered for his affair with his brother Jimmy's wife Sadie, which helped to show that the character would go to any lengths to get his own way. However, another more vulnerable side of Matthew was shown through his romantic liaison with Perdita Hyde-Sinclair, the wife of Matthew's stepbrother Grayson Sinclair. Matthew and Perdita's relationship helped viewers to relate to Matthew's more romantic side. His more vulnerable side was also explored through his relationship with fiancée Anna De Souza.
- In August 2008, Matt Healy decided to quit the soap. He said to the Daily Star, "After five years of wearing Matthew's suits every morning and having to shave every day, I feel ready to pull on some Bermuda shorts and grow a goatie!" But he went onto say, "But I've had a brilliant time at Emmerdale and I'm excited about what lies ahead." Matthew's exit storyline was his relationship with Anna De Souza. The relationship ends when, on his wedding day, he dies after his attempt to mow his brother Carl down in a van went wrong when he swerved to avoid hitting Anna and collided with a wall, after Carl ruined the wedding after discovering Matthew's deception and his part in the death of Anna's father Donald.
"I you...I...I...I love you." (Final line, to Anna De Souza)