“General Hospital’s” Steve Burton, who made brain damaged, amoral hitman Jason Morgan into one of the soap’s most popular leading men, is quitting the show. For years, Jason was the show’s true leading man, appearing in nearly every episode and always saving the day despite his less than savory career. In recent months, a new headwriter and executive producer have broadened the show’s focus so that Jason is no longer front and center all the time. His departure comes at a time when the show is struggling to improve its ratings to insure its survival. However, Burton told TV Guide that his departure is entirely for personal reasons. He has decided to move to Tennessee with his family and lead a quieter life. “I have no complaints, no negative feelings at all. But it’s time to go. I’m going to take some time off and do nothing but relax, just enjoy life a little bit with my wife and kids.”
Burton is open to short term returns to the show. “I would never say that I am closing the door to GH. But, in addition to my personal reasons for leaving, I do want to see what else is out there for me, as an actor and as a producer.”
Burton’s departure comes at an inconvenient time for the show. His character is embroiled in both a baby switch storyline and a red hot love triangle. He agreed to extend his contract for several weeks so that the writers could craft a more satisfying exit storyline. Burton claims that his future plans include producing a telenovela with James Franco, who appeared on GH and shares a manager with Burton.
Jason became one of the most polarizing characters in the show’s history, with some fans finding him sexy no matter what he did, while others resented the way the show constantly wrote him as a hero who was viewed as a saint by most of the other characters on the show despite his often despicable actions. His departure will mark a huge shift for the show.
As the show says goodbye to its current sexy mobster, it welcomes back one from the past. Last week, executive producer Frank Valentini tweeted that Monday’s air show would feature a big surprise. Sure enough, at the end of the episode Ian Buchanan, whose character Scottish mobster Duke Lavery died in 1990, turned up in a Swiss hospital. Valentini told TV Guide, “We will eventually find out that the Duke Lavery we saw die all those many years ago was an imposter. This is the real Duke.”
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