Six Important Characters on General Hospital That Should Return from the Dead

By Ed Martin

As General Hospital executive producer Frank Valentini, head writer Ron Carlivati and their team proved last week with their remarkable 52nd anniversary episode – arguably the most creatively ambitious hour of daytime drama ever produced – nothing is impossible in the soap opera arena. They somehow managed to expand the collective history of many of the show’s primary and secondary characters – dating all the way back to the very first episode in April 1963 – without actually rewriting any of it, something far too many reckless soap opera writers have been allowed to do over the years.  I am still stunned (in a good way) by what I saw.

For any soap opera, the right writers can correct the egregious storytelling errors made by past creative regimes – particularly those that were unpopular with audiences and perhaps drove viewers away. This is something the showrunners and writers of the four remaining broadcast soaps must keep in mind if the genre is to survive. It’s all about giving the audience what it wants. Viewers must come first, above and beyond the desires and demands and preferences of actors, writers and everyone else involved.

Fans will accept just about anything if soap opera writers give them what they want, and if given what they want said fans are more likely to stick around. That brings me back to GH, which since the beginning of this millennium has forced fans to endure too many punishing blows by killing off popular characters, most of them “good” people, while murderers and psychopaths survive and thrive. The 2000s in particular were an ugly mess, one that compromised the ratings of the show (especially among the young) and contributed to the overall deterioration of its genre. (As I have always said, “As goes GH,  so goes daytime drama.”)

I can think of no better way to keep the love alive and encourage from long-time fans of GH the same kind of renewed enthusiasm that exploded last Wednesday after that outstanding episode than to bring back some of the popular characters that have been killed off over the years seemingly without regard for the preferences of veteran viewers or for anyone who had been encouraged to follow the stories of those characters for many years (or several decades). If these characters are brought back they need not stick around; they can always recur or move to Europe to join Laura, Rebecca, Faison, Britt and Robin, among other Port Charles transfers.

The point of bringing these characters back would in most cases be to simply correct past mistakes, some of them whoppers. Other returns simply make sense in terms of enhancing current story. (Recasts for any of them should be embraced if necessary.) Here are the dearly departed who should be among the returned.

Jake Morgan Spencer Webber – I can’t imagine anything more ghoulish than learning that the boy we thought was adorable little Jake – son of Elizabeth Webber and Jason Morgan and adopted son of Lucky Spencer – was actually another unfortunate child substituted in Jake’s place on the night of his “death” by Helena Cassadine or some other evil-doer. But I think I could get past that if GH brought back the only character on its ever-expanding canvas who was related (by birth or adoption) to every major family going all the way back to 1963. He was part Hardy, part Webber, part Quartermaine and part Spencer and, I once thought, central to the future of the show. When he was killed off in a soggy sweeps stunt it was as if ABC was foretelling the end of the show. But GH is still with us and Jake should be, too. (Seven cars drove past Elizabeth’s house that fateful night. We only learned who was behind the wheel of six of them, including Luke, who supposedly hit Jake. This vulgar and unpopular story could be undone if careful choices are made as to who was in the seventh car and what he or she did.)

Emily Quartermaine – This one is a no-brainer, especially because Emily’s audience-repelling death at the hands of an already forgotten serial killer (in yet another short-term sweeps stunt) was followed by yet another awful story turn in which viewers learned that Emily had a long-lost twin named Rebecca. (Also, Emily died off screen, so that helps.) Let’s find out that Rebecca is really Emily, then exhale and get on with things. She is a legacy character who came to the canvas during the story of Dr. Monica Quartermaine’s heroic battle with breast cancer, one of the most important in the history of the show. Emily deserves better.

Georgie Jones – I feel the same way about Georgie as I do about Emily. She was too important to the show and too popular with viewers to be killed off in a lame sweeps story. (She was murdered by the same serial killer who killed Emily.) Georgie came to the canvas during the unforgettable story about the death of BJ Jones and the decision to transplant her heart into Georgie’s sister (and BJ’s cousin) Maxie, who is still a vibrant character on the show. Every story Maxie has been caught up in since Georgie’s death would have been better if Maxie had been able to confide in her younger, smarter, wiser sibling. The mostly female soap opera audience would surely respond to the inclusion of sisters who are very different but always support each other through thick and thin.

Rick Webber – I don’t know where to begin with this one. Dr. Rick Webber was one of the true heroes of the show during its late-Seventies-early Eighties heyday, but when he was brought back on a short term basis in 2002 he had become a nasty businessman who had been cheating on his wife Leslie and his mistress Monica back in the day. He had also apparently been drugging adoring daughter Laura throughout her romances with Scott and Luke. In the present day Laura thought she killed him (actually, Scott did it) and then lost her mind, while Rick’s grandsons Lucky and Nikolas carted his dead body all around Port Charles like refugees from Weekend at Bernie’s. When Rick appeared (along with Alan and Emily) to Monica and Tracy two years ago in a vision apparently brought on by consuming too much Pickle Lila relish he told them that not everything was the way it seemed when he returned to town in 2002. If ever a story had to be undone it’s this one. And who wouldn’t enjoy another round of the legendary Leslie-Rick-Monica triangle … or a reunion between Rick, Ginny and “Little” Mike?

AJ Quartermaine – I’m on the record saying that I had come to accept AJ’s death last year because it seemed to bring to an end the era of murderous mobster Sonny Corinthos, who after years of tormenting AJ brutally shot him in the chest. But as time goes on, and Sonny continues to enjoy life, AJ’s most recent “death” isn’t sitting too well. Like Emily and Georgie this is another character that came to life during an important GH story – the complex Leslie-Rick-Monica-Alan quadrangle that was as popular with viewers back in the day as the tale of Laura and Luke. (Remember when Alan twice tried to kill Monica and Rick, or when Leslie hauled off and belted Monica, or when Leslie learned that AJ was Rick’s child while helping Monica give birth? Ah, sweet memories …) AJ ought to be running ELQ and grudgingly aligned himself with Tracy to fend off the upcoming takeover attempt by the Cassadines. He should not be rotting in his coffin. Just think … wouldn’t it have been wild if that bizarre hate sex that AJ and Carly indulged in one night had resulted in Carly giving birth to yet another Quartermaine heir? That would have changed everything on the show, arguably for the better.

Connie Falconeri – Connie isn’t necessarily as important to the history of GH as the characters listed above, but I can’t think of a bigger shock to the characters on the show right now than her unexpected return. That would also make palatable the idea of keeping on the canvas her cold-blooded killer, the fascinating and lethal Ava Jerome. (Maura West, the actress who plays Ava, is simply too good to lose.) Connie’s murder was an ugly thing and an unsatisfying pay-off for those of us who invested years in her story. I would also like to see her son Trey Mitchell, who had been given away by Connie’s alter Kate Howard when he was a baby, somehow return with her. The relationship of this mother and son had the potential to be one of the most fascinating in the history of daytime drama. It would also have been interesting to see in action the fascinating family that would have been formed had Sonny and his daughter Kristina married Connie and her son, Trey.

By the way, I chose not to include Alan Quartermaine on this list because I have finally gotten used to the fact that he is no longer around and I’m digging widow Monica Quartermaine’s romance with Judge Walters, even though we almost never see them together. That said I wouldn’t mind having him back, either. Since Edward’s passing the Quartermaines have been in need of a temperamental patriarch. The mansion feels so empty without one.

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Ed Martin is the Editor of MediaBizBloggers where he writes the Planet Ed programming blog. He’s also the television and video critic for MyersBizNet. He’s written for The Huffington Post, Media Post, USA Today, Inside Media, Advertising Age, Television Week, TV Guide and Broadcasting & Cable .

 

Comments

  1. Liz says:

    i like your list but think that Tony Jones should be on it. Even though we got his second best scene (the first being his listening to BJ’s heart) when on his death bed he told a newly out Lucas that he loved him and was proud of him, he should never have been a casualty of the encephalitis outbreak.

  2. Debi says:

    I didnt like Connie/Kate. I really miss Stuart Damon as Alan Quartermaine, why they killed him off just never made any sense. He was really great with Emily.
    They never should have killed off Emily or Georgie. They could have done so much more with Georgie with Felicia and their heritage, could have gone in many different ways.
    The way they ended Rick Webbers storyline was stupid.
    They shouldnt try to attract viewers by killing off babies.
    They could not top the death of BJ.

  3. rcade says:

    Soaps look hokey when they bring back so many characters from the dead. It becomes increasingly ludicrous for people to believe that someone has actually died. When Patrick went through the deep agony of mourning the “death” of Robin, most of the town could have told him from close personal experience to hold off on believing she’s gone.

    GH wouldn’t need the temptation of doing so many back-from-the-dead stories if they went back to writing characters leaving town. It seems like more people in Port Charles leave through the grave than any other exit. Then half of them come back, as if death was a recoverable condition.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I agree! Why kill people off with such abandon, when the show such history of bringing people back. What appalled me about your list is how the writers consistently kill off Legacy characters. That’s poor story-telling.

  4. janet says:

    TIIC that use to have the last say,ruined it. killing off favorites. AJ is the only one I miss. But with him murdered AGAIN. and Sonny walking . I walked also. No more GH for me. As for Alan . Stuart Damon is sick so barring him getting better let him stay dead. The show lately is so off the wall, so just plain stupid with Luke killing both his parents ???? who cares? FrankenRon are just killing off the whole show. Two mobs. ? Stick a fork in it. Its done., and so am I.

  5. queerbec says:

    It seems so lazy for soap writers to kill off a character, even when an actor is leaving a show. Emily, Courtney, AJ, Georgie–all of them could easily have been sent away, out of the country. And now they are doing that with Duke, I’m afraid. Yet Helena lives (though we adore Connie Towers) and Carlos, who is kept on only because he is young. Now, who is the character who “won” resurrection in the February sweeps?

  6. Mama says:

    Really, Marlena?!?

    I mean REALLY …. you want Jake brought back? And to have his death explained by saying Helena substituted another little boy be hit by a car? WTF!!!!

    Sometimes I wonder if you re-read the stuff you write.

  7. Marilyn Henry says:

    Have to say, I miss most of these folks less than you do, Ed.
    I always hated it when Guza so cavalierly gutted the canvas by always killing characters instead of writing moves out of town. GH could really use a shrink now and since we can’t have Kevin, we surely could use Cameron in the form of Lane Davies–oh, my, I’d love that! But no. Guza couldn’t write him into the mob, so he terminated him in a fire. But I don’t see Connie in Pt Charles–that would just mean more Sonny and lordy, haven’t we had enough of Sonny and the mob to last a lifetime or two?? I did like Georgie and felt it was absurd to do away with that popular character and actress. And I miss Leslie, but I guess she has moved on; still Lulu could use her. And I gotta admit I don’t miss Dr Rick Webber at all.

    So who do I miss? Number one, I miss Laura and Genie Francis. She should have been here for the Luke back story. His one great love, the one person who knows Luke best and was the first to hear that back story about his mother’s death. I do NOT like that they tried to tie in the rape to Luke’s split personality–there was absolutely no evidence of that second side in all the years I watched him love and protect and adore Laura. Both characters dealt with it back then and it was not brutal as Fluke would have it. That is just trying to adapt today’s politically correctness to a story that was just high drama in the time when it happened. Geary was supposed to be leaving the show afterwards, but circumstances turned it, so they had to deal with what they had written and they did that.

    Personally, I felt betrayed by this latest Luke-killed-his-parents backstory. I remember how well he told the original story, and it was grim and touching and frightening enough, and didn’t match the new version.

    As to the Quartermaine revival–yes, that needs to be, but now we are even losing Ned. I’d like it if Emily returned in the form of Amber Tamblyn, and Dillion came back. Guess he would have to be recast by the guy with the French name that was on OLTL–he and Scott Clifton were so close in style and age. Of course Monica is barely seen–why is that?? And I agree with Liz–Tony Jones would be a good return.

    I liked Zander, too, and wish he could walk back into Pt Charles, older and wiser.He is Cam’s father and could have story with Liz.

    But we have Nathan, a good guy and interesting, and Jake Doe (wish he didn’t have to be Jason, though), and Julian who I wish was a good guy. If Ian Buchanan has to leave maybe Duke could take the damn mob with him… The cast is too big, but Duke doesn’t have to die. Please.

  8. David says:

    Marlena didn’t write that posting – it was Ed Martin. Maybe you need to re-read it.

  9. DS0816 says:

    Killing off the Emily Quartermaine character—at the time played by 2005 Emmy winner Natalia Livingston—was a mistake.(That was in 2008.)

    It felt like a cheap move to get rid of a character and actress that “General Hospital” wanted out of its way. There were too many Quartermaines being banished during the 2000s, including Stuart Damon’s Alan (which won the actor a 1999 Emmy) and some more natural occurrences (like the deaths of actors Anna Lee and John Ingle, who played the grand leaders of the family, Lila and Edward).

    Emily was originated in 1994 by Amber Tamblyn, daughter of “West Side Story’s” Russ Tamblyn, and she went on to star on CBS’ “Joan of Arcadia” (which garnered her a 2004 Emmy nomination for lead actress in a drama series) and some additonal prime-time fare (including Fox’s “House” and the final stretch of seasons of CBS’ “Two and a Half Men”).

    Tamblyn, who was grounded, was sensationally convincing in the role. Livingston, who had more bubble, was very different (and had amazing chemistry with actor Tyler Christopher, who plays Nikolas Cassadine, and with whom an off-screen relationship had developed but didn’t last). But, no matter, this was a terrific character. Emily was adopted by Monica after the death of Emily’s biological mother of Paige Bowen, a fellow patient who was recovering with a cancer-stricken Monica during “General Hospital’s” 1994-95 television season. (It was 20 years ago that “GH” won its first-ever writing Emmy—thanks to head scribe Claire Labine of “Ryan’s Hope”—and the story garnered Leslie Charleson the last of her four best-actress Emmy nominations. Given the 2014-15 Daytime Emmys are on this coming Sunday night, it feels amazing this amount of time has passed since that banner season for “GH”!)

    This is a very good topic. But, imagining that I, alone, could decide on bringing one of these characters back from the dead is an easy decision. My vote goes to Emily Quartermaine.

  10. Sunland says:

    Jake would be number one my list for a return from the dead. The killing this new legacy character was pointless. I don’t even care how they do it – just that they do it.

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