In The Departed, Both Costigan and Sullivan end up sleeping with the same woman? Yes, both Costigan and Sullivan fall for the same lady, Madolyn, at different points in the movie. Eventually, it's revealed that Madolyn has fallen pregnant, though we're never specifically told which of her two lovers the baby actually belongs to.

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    Isn't there a scene where Sullivan can't get it up? I think this is a strong hint that it's Costigan's baby. Why else put it in there? Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 12:34
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    It could be, if you think that is the answer, put that as an answer, not comment :)
    – natural
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 1:50

5 Answers 5


The film never revealed who the father is. I think its Costigan.

From yahoo answers by jeanette:

They never revealed who the father is. So you can take a guess. My theory is that it was Costigan. Since she didn't know the real situation, I think she was just going to stay with Sullivan and raise the baby as his. He was stable and secure, so she thought. Later when she finds out the real truth, you can see she's clearly distraught at the funeral. She walks away from Sullivan like the baby is no longer a concern of his. That's just me.

From Robert Love at quora.

Infertility and the relationship between fathers & sons is a theme in The Departed.

Early in the film, Staff Sergeant Colin Sullivan (Damon) is confronted by his girlfriend, Dr. Madolyn Madden (Farmiga), over a failure to perform sexually the night before: "So, do you want to talk about last night?" she asks, peeling a banana (not subtle imagery there). "You know, it's all right. Guys tend to make a big deal out of it. It's actually quite common."

Later, when Madden tells Sullivan that she is pregnant, she doesn't reveal the identity of the father. The allusion is that the father is Billy Costigan (DiCaprio), with whom she had an affair, and not Sullivan, who is impotent.


We can be fairly certain that Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) is the father, not because Sullivan couldn't get an erection one time, but because there is a recurring theme of infertility in the evil characters in the film.

There is the scene described by Robert Love (as quoted in another answer) where it is mentioned that Collin could not perform sexually.

There is a scene where Gwen (Frank's wife) is seen in their apartment reading 'Getting Pregnant.' Suggesting that she's having trouble doing so, perhaps because of Frank's infertility.

Toward the end, there is a somewhat forced exchange between Frank and Colin, where Colin implies that Frank couldn't produce children:

I know you, Colin. You know I’d
never give you up. You’re like...
A son...to you? Is that what it is
about, all that murderin’ and
fuckin’ and no sons? What are you,
shooting blanks?

On the other side are the 'good guys.'

Captain Queenan is proud of his son and mentions him multiple times. His last line in the film is, 'my boy's studying law at Notre Dame.'

And in this camp, fits Billy--one of the good guys. That said, I think we are to conclude that the baby is his.

  • "there is a recurring theme of infertility in the evil characters in the film" - altholugh true that doesn't prove anything.
    – Luciano
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 14:27
  • if there is infertility in the evil characters and Colin is evil, then Colin is infertile. If Colin is infertile then Madolyn is not carrying his baby. Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 16:03
  • I wasn't able find a direct quote of Matt Damon, but many pages on the internet claim that "Matt Damon decided his character should be impotent to counter Frank's macho personality." Here's one and another. Would be great if someone could find an actual interview quote. That, and the fact that Costigan being the father lines up with the original movie pretty much seals the deal.
    – Inigo
    Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 1:00

Another critical clue comes from the original movie, Hong Kong's Infernal Affairs. In that movie Chan Wing-yan (aka Yan) (the original's Costigan), has an ex-girlfriend, May, and it is clearly implied he is the father of her daughter when she lies about the daughter's age. He dies never knowing this. May attends his funeral, and is crying when her daughter looks up at her and back at Yan's photo on his tombstone, which is superimposed on her face in the transition:

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William Monahan, who wrote the screen play for The Departed, copied all of the key plot points (and many/most non-key details) from Infernal Affairs, but made one (and only one if I remember correctly) substantive change: both moles have a relationship with the same woman. This women, Madolyn, is clearly the amalgam of three women from Infernal Affairs:

  • May (above)
  • Mary, the fiancé of Lau Kin-ming (the original's Sullivan). She is moving in with him into his upscale apartment. She learns the truth about her fiancé when she listens to a recording of him talking to Sam (the original's Costello). The recording is provided by Yan. She listens to it on the stereo system in Lau's apartment.
  • Lee Sum-ye, Yan's psychiatrist. They fall in love with each other. He trusts her with the secret at the end, before he dies.

While this twist is a powerful change, as noted above it is still based on details from the original. I think it's pretty obvious that the child at the funeral in both movies plays the same role.

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    Very interesting new point of view for an old question. Welcome to Movies & TV vas!
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 1:52
  • @OldPadawan, Thank you! Old, I know. I was rewatching both films, searched for an answer to a different question, and I stumbled here. I actually have a 3rd data point (besides this answer and my comment about Matt Damon's decision re Sullivan's impotence, and that is the argument that Sullivan is gay. Not sure it's worth adding as an answer or augmenting one of the two answers wrt impotence.
    – Inigo
    Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 3:50

In the scene where Billy gives Madolyn the envelope in case of his demise, Madolyn wanted to tell him something but Billy told her to think on it hard and tell him again in two weeks. There are other reasons why we should believe Billy is the father; the theme of infertility in the bad guys (Frank) vs fertility in the good (Queenan) as well as Colin’s impotence, but this is the best explanation and quite convincing. She was going to tell Billy something important. There is nothing else that could be so important to the plot or emotionally impactful as the fact that she was going to tell Billy he was a father. Add to that my personal belief that it was a way to soften the blow to the audience of Billy‘s death, because he turned out to be a good guy and after everyone else is gone he’s the only one given a legacy.


Everyone seems to forget when Bill (DICaprio) gave her the copy of the same tape he sent to Colin (Damin), she (Madolyn) wanted to tell him something but hesitated and he told her to wait 2 weeks. Also after Madolyn heard the tape she stormed into the room saying "and I thought I was the liar" she had already given Colin the ultrasound picture. So, it had to be Costogan's (my opinion).

  • We're looking for answers with some facts to back it up, not just an opinion - that's just speculation.
    – Luciano
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 14:28
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    @Luciano It's informed speculation based on the film and what it's telling us, though, which is pretty much what we're looking for.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 15:03
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    Everything in this entire post is speculation about the baby’s father. Your mention about Madolyn not finishing her message, to me was the most outstanding point during the movie that made me think that Bill Costigan was the father. Commented Oct 24, 2020 at 13:33

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