Long-runningsoap opera airing on ABC since April 1, 1963.The action, ostensibly, centers on the staff and patients at General Hospital in Port Charles, New York. Early characters of importance were Dr. Steve Hardy, his nurse wife, Audrey, nurse Jessie Brewer, Dr. Lesley Webber, and attorney Lee Baldwin. Many current characters are children and grandchildren of these veteran characters.General Hospital's ratings slouched in the mid-1970s and the show faced cancellation. It was invigorated by the beloved (but controversial) pairing of Laura Webber Baldwin and Luke Spencer, a romance infamously spawned after Luke raped Laura at the Campus Disco in 1979. The rape was retconned as a "seduction" (only to later be acknowledged as rape) and the pair became the original soap opera Super Couple.The early 1980s were a heyday for GH. Storylines delved into international intrigue, involving Soviet spies, Aztec treasure, and megalomaniac Mikkos Cassadine (played by John Colicos,) who attempted to freeze Port Charles and take over the world. Luke and Laura's wedding in November 1981 drew over 30 million viewers, and featured Elizabeth Taylor as Mikkos's widow. The mid 80s brought super couple number 2 in Frisco Jones (Jack Wagner) and Felicia Cummings (Kristina Crump, who would later marry Jack Wagner in real life).By the early 90's, the focus shifted to more family-based drama. The show got high marks for tearjerker stories such as Stone's death from AIDS, and young Maxie Jones receiving her cousin BJ's heart in a transplant.The past decade has been dominated by mobsters Sonny Corinthos and Jason Morgan. Most of the show's long-term fans have been alienated by increasingly dark stories and a growing trend of killing off veteran characters, supposedly to attract a younger audience. In 2012, with the show under threat of cancellation there was a radical change in showrunners. The new regime ended the show's mob focus, bringing back veteran characters who were written out, and restoring the titular hospital and many of show's core families to the forefront again. Now the show is like most modern American soap operas, with a mix between domestic/medical drama and outlandish adventure stories.The series has spawned two spinoffs: Supernatural Soap OperaPort Charles and Night Shift, a weekly primetime summer series on Soap Net.
This series provides examples of:
Above the Influence - When Lulu is drugged at a photoshoot, Dante finds her and takes her back to his place to make sure nothing happens to her. She tries to initiate intimacy but Dante nobly declines.
Actor Allusion - In a dream episode during Thanksgiving 2008, Maxie meets Matt and asks him if she's sure they hadn't met before, even asking, "did we go to high school together?" Their portrayors Kirsten Storms and Jason Cook had previously played High School Sweet Hearts, Shawn and Belle, on Daysof Our Lives. Additionally, Matt and Maxie met by bumping into each other which is how Shawn and Belle first met.
Similarly when Sam McCall and John McBain meet. Both actors played vampire lovers on the short-lived supernatural spin-off of General Hospital, Port Charles.
A recent storyline took it a step further, having the man playing Mc Bain reprise the role he portrayed on Port Charles.
Alliterative Name - Jasper Jacks, his parents John and Jane Jacks, his brother Jerry Jacks, and his daughter Josslyn Jacks. His wife was also 'Carly Corinthos' before they got married.
The Alcoholic: Noah Drake, and most notoriously Luke Spencer and former nephew-in-law, A.J. Quartermaine.
Artifact Title - For a show called General Hospital, very few of the storylines are focused on Port Charles General Hospital. The first 15 or so years of the show were set almost exclusively in the hospital; however, much of the show's focus post Luke & Laura was on action/adventure and mafia storylines. As The Other Wiki points out, the spin-off Port Charles initially focused on the hospital and medical-related storylines more heavily when compared to the mothership.
Backup Twin - Kevin Collins; Bernie Abrahms; Rebecca Shaw
And Sam's never-spoken-of-again doppelganger from the Island of Ballroom Dancing.
Break the Cutie: Michael's entire life has pretty much been this, and shows no signs of stopping. He was raped in prison and his girlfriend died recently. Before that he shot his father's fiancee and got shot himself shortly after. He also (supposedly) watched his biological dad die.
But We Used a Condom - Lulu and Dillon as well as Jason and Liz; the condoms turned out to be defective.
Canon Immigrant - Several Night Shift characters made the jump to the mothership.
After One Life to Live was cancelled, GH moved a few of the characters from Llanview to Port Charles, notably Todd and Starr Manning and Skye Chandler (who was previously connected as the adopted daughter of Alan Quartermaine.)
The Character Died with Him - Dr. Steve Hardy, when actor John Beradino passed away from pancreatic cancer in 1996, was written out as having suffered a fatal heart attack. Hardy, whom Beradino had portrayed since the show's beginning in 1963, remained in the opening montage as late as 2004.
Anna Lee's Lila Quartermaine and John Ingle's Edward Quartermaine
The late Gerald Anthony's many appearances as Marco Dane from One Life to Live cemented the fact that the two soap operas occurred in the same overall Verse.
And due to (what can now be called the "original") OLTL's cancellation, Todd Manning, oldest child Starr, and John McBain headed to Port Chuck, with occasional appearances by Todd ex-wives Blair & Tea. As part of the agreement between ABC & Prospect Park (the current licensee of OLTL), those characters were removed from the show in early 2013.
It's Not You, It's My Enemies: This was Jason's reason for leaving Sam. Many Jason/Sam shippers are still rather pissed. Jason also broke up with Elizabeth due to this same excuse.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: Most episodes of General Hospital from 1963-1978 are extreamly rare (especially the early color episodes from 1967-1975 which some are extinct) and exist only in B&W Kinescopes.
Lampshade Hanging - Spinelli in his detective alter ego once said, "Have you ever noticed that there are no doorbells in this town? Everybody knocks!"
Let Them Die Happy - Tearjerkingly averted when Robin told her boyfriend Stone (who was dying from AIDS) that she contracted HIV from him. Sonny and Luke discuss whether it would have been better for Robin to lie to Stone for however long Stone had left or if it would have torn her apart to be dishonest with Stone during his last days. No one knew that Stone only had a couple days left.
One Steve Limit - Ways to get around similarly named characters? Give the namesake son a nickname (as Luke did with his son Lucky, and as Mike did with his son Sonny), use a more formal name (Mike Corbin vs. his grandson Michael Corinthos III; Luke Spencer vs. Lucas Jones), or use your last name (Spinelli's first name is Damian, which is also the name of a notorious '90s villain.)
John Zacchara and John McBain. The former typically went by "Johnny" and the latter was usually on a Last Name Basis with other characters.
The Other Darrin - Lucky Spencer has had three different actors, and Carly has had four, with Carly #1 coming back as a different character with Carly #4 still around...
Michael's getting there: He's already had three actors play him, and he's not out of his teens yet.
Lucas Jones had 10 actors play him in total.
With the casting of Jen Lilley to temporarily replace an ailing Kirsten Storms, Maxie is now up to 4 (not counting her pre-SORASed baby actors, which would put her on par with her cousin Lucas).
Too Soon - Luis Alcazar fell out of the window at least 10 stories high and the fall was shown from the outside. This scene took place a year after the 9/11 attacks.
Transplant: Several One Life to Live characters came to Port Charles after that show was canceled: John McBain, Todd Manning and Starr Manning among them (Blair Cramer & Tea Delgado had brief guest spots).
Wardrobe Malfunction - During the years of the annual Port Charles Nurses' Ball (1994-2001), a running gag was that Lucy Coe would somehow always wind up onstage in her underwear at the end of the show ... often because of a rival's plotting.
It's not a coincidence that Lucy Coe is coming back just as the hospital is ready to reboot the Nurses' Ball.