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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 (more or less), bringing back veteran characters who were written out and restoring the titular hospital and many of the show's core families to the forefront again. Now the show is like most modern American soap operas again, 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.
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. Before that he shot his father's fiancee and got shot himself shortly after. He also (supposedly) watched his biological dad die. Twice. The second time took.
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 Cast Showoff: The Nurses' Ball tended to do this plenty of times, most notably with Jack Wagner and Rick Springfield (furthering both of their singing careers) and Kelly Monaco (using her experience on Dancing with the Stars).
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.
An arc involving a relish contest in May 2013 involved a crossover with The Chew, a cooking talk shownote And the replacement for All My Children aired by ABC as a lead-in to GH.
Determinator: Heather Webber was stabbed by her son in 2013 and buried alive, only to survive that and kidnap Carly Jacks in a few short months. She also swandived off the roof of General Hospital, something proven to have killed one man (Trevor Lansing) before.
Elevator Going Down: Both GH's and the Metro Court's elevator have been used for this purpose more than once.
Expy: Thanks to the Executive Meddling that removed Todd Manning from General Hospital, a new character was introduced in May 2013, still played by Roger Howarth, but with a slightly different appearance and a somewhat similar personality. Lampshaded in his debut appearance, when a stagehand calls upon a man named "Todd" to get paper towels to clean up after a Vomit Chain Reaction from poisoned relish on The Chew. "Todd" ends up being just a janitor.
This "expy" was later revealed to be the character Franco.
Kick the Dog: When Kirstina needed a transplant and Alexis found out Sam's unborn child with Sonny was a perfect match for a donor, she railroaded the other woman in order to induce premature labor. She was successful but Sam suffered a miscarriage—and adding insult to injury Sonny decided (against Jason's wishes) to okay the transplant while Sam was still unconscious. Later on, as Sam is still reeling from the loss of her baby, Alexis visits her and positively gushes about how successful Kristina's operation was. Completely disregarding the fact that Sam's baby had to die for it.
Lampshade Hanging - Spinelli in his detective alter ego once said, "Have you ever noticed that there are no doorbells in this town? Everybody knocks!"
Large Ham - Mikkos Cassadine, to name one. Stavros has shown that it runs in the family.
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.
Limited Wardrobe: Jason Morgan, much? Anytime you got him out of the leather jacket was cause for celebration.
Never My Fault: Alexis in regards to her sister Kristina's death. After having an affair with Sonny and finding out she was pregnant, Alexis decided she didn't want Sonny to know about the child. So Ned agreed to pass himself off as the baby's father. The thing is that Ned was dating Kristina at the time, and both Alexis and Ned led Kristina to believe that Ned had cheated on her with Alexis and that Alexis had stolen her boyfriend. When Kristina found out the truth, she became so angry that she rushed to Sonny's warehouse, thinking he was there, to expose Alexis's lies. Unfortunately for Kristina, Luis Alcazar planted a bomb in the warehouse and she was killed in the blast. Had Alexis been honest with her sister, then Kristina wouldn't have died. But to this day Alexis has never accepted responsibility for her role in Kristina's death and has placed the blame squarely on Sonny's shoulders.
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.
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).
Vitriolic Best Buds: Robert Scorpio and Luke Spencer. Even in their 60s they continue to get in trouble together, bickering all the while.
Wardrobe Malfunction - During the years of the annual Port Charles Nurses' Ball (1994-2001, 2013-), 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 returned as the hospital rebooted the Nurses' Ball.
And she wound up in her underwear. Again.
Water Source Tampering: Jerry Jacks does this to Port Charles water supply with a hydrochemical disease and demands a large ransom in return for the cure.