10. The Asian Quarter: This storyline actually revolved around the Scorpios – Robert, Anna and Robin respectively. Felicia and Frisco also played heavily into the tale, as did racist themes and a higher consciousness that has since vacated soaps. While the story did have some ridiculous touches – the most endearing memory of the story is a young Robin racing into her mother’s arms after being separated for a long period of time. The fact that the Robin and Anna relationship is front and center again today – almost 26 years later – is a testament to the foundation their characters were built on.
9. The Puerto Rico adventures: This was after Luke and Laura returned but before Sonny became the mobster that ate Port Charles. When this story unfolded, yeah, Sonny was a mobster, but he wasn’t monopolizing everything on ‘General Hospital.’ At the time of this storyline, the only thing blowing up was Luke’s boat and the popularity of Sonny and Brenda. I’m not sure when the super couple officially died, but I think for GH, the last one they successfully launched was Sonny and Brenda. There’s certainly no one on the canvas that comes close to matching their fire and charisma. What was also great about the Puerto Rico story was that it involved multiple couples and story arcs, including Ned and Lois and Lily and Miguel. Still, the indelible memory of that story is a wet and bedraggled Sonny and Brenda washing up on shore after almost being killed and immediately starting to make out in the sand. It was ridiculous and ridiculously hot at the same time. Of course, those were the days when couples weren’t forced down your throat and instead were allowed to percolate at their own pace.
8. The Aztec treasure: Back in the 1980s, General Hospital was known for being something of an adventure soap. Everything was big – including the women’s hair. The Aztec treasure story was a fun way to advance the Frisco and Felicia romance, as well as including Robert and Holly and the introduction of Sean Donnelly – who was initially romantically interested in his “princess” – but would later become something of a father figure to her. The story was campy and it really didn’t make a lot of sense – but the location shoots were fun and beautiful and the story is still better than anything they have onscreen today.
7. Luke and Laura return to Port Charles: This happened in 1993. How do I remember? I scheduled my college classes around it so I wouldn’t miss a moment. This is when GH was truly must see TV. First the most beloved super couples of all time returned to town. That they had one of the cutest soap kids ever (Jonathon Jackon’s Lucky) with them was another boost. When Luke and Laura got separated from Lucky, I remember that I wasn’t even remotely worried that Lucky wouldn’t make it to Port Charles on his own. After all, he was the son of Luke and Laura and Jackson made a 10-year-old Lucky seem wise beyond his years. What’s really a shame about this story is what the writers have done since then. This would have been about the time that Ethan was supposedly conceived (off screen) even though we were watching Luke and Laura onscreen and know that he wasn’t sneaking off to have an affair with Holly. Still, this time in GH’s history remains one of its strongest.
6. Lucky’s “death”: No one wanted to see GH’s biggest super couple crumble – but the performances given by Genie Francis and Anthony Geary as Laura and Luke when they found out their son Lucky had died in a fire were unforgettable. Initially thought to be a victim of mob violence, we eventually found out that it was Spencer nemesis Helena who had kidnapped Lucky and faked his death – but in the initial moments an outraged Laura lambasted Luke for teaching his son that it was okay to trust mobsters. The other standout in the story was a young Rebecca Herbst. The sweet love story of Liz and Lucky has been tarnished today, but seeing Liz sink to the ground when she realizes that Lucky is gone remains one of the most poignant scenes in GH’s almost 50-year history.
5. Luke and Laura’s love story: It really wasn’t something that fans expected – especially after Luke raped Laura on the disco floor. You couldn’t deny the chemistry, though. The writers changed the rape to a seduction and a super couple was born. Years later, they would have Luke acknowledge the rape (and then cheat on the love of his life in a blatantly ridiculous storyline that no fan watching at the time believes). One or both of the actors left throughout the years. Laura was assumed dead, but then she returned and when Mayor Luke saw her on the lawn from his balcony the chemistry was still palpable. My greatest hope, before the end of GH, is that the writers will right the wrong that has become their love story, undo Ethan’s parentage and reunite the genre’s greatest couple. Of course, I’m the first to admit this story set a bad precedent in soaps. After Luke and Laura writers were constantly trying to pair women with their rapists. It only worked once, though, and only for those who were willing to believe the seduction theory.
4. Jason Quartermaine becomes Jason Morgan: I know it seems hypocritical to pick this storyline as one of the best – especially given my general disdain for Jason Morgan these days – but when it happened it was wonderful. The Quartermaine golden boy, Jason Morgan, tries to stop his brother from driving drunk and suffers a brain injury in a car accident as a result. Up until that point, Steve Burton looked bored playing Jason Quartermaine (and I don’t blame him). The Jason that survived the crash was a raging pain in the butt who hated the Quartermaines and what they stood for. He grew into an emotionally unstable young man who had a sweet love story with Robin and a disconnect with his former life. What the character has become today, an unfeeling Borg, is not a reflection of how the story started. Jason Morgan should most definitely return to his Quartermaine roots. But those first two years or so of the Jason Morgan chronicles were engaging and interesting – something the character hasn’t been for years.
3. Monica is diagnosed with breast cancer: This was a realistic storyline that took the larger-than-life Quartermaines and relegated them to flesh and blood people dealing with the possible death of one of their own. Monica and Alan had been through a lot through the years – including trying to kill each other – but the true emotion in this story rose from the couple’s bond. That the story introduced Amber Tamblyn as Emily was just an added bonus. It was Tamblyn’s Emily that essentially restored the Quartermaine heart and got it beating again. Still, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time Alan and Monica slept together after the surgery, and the way she was self-conscious of her scar. Truly wonderful writing and performances marked this story. It’s sad to see what’s become of the Quartermaines – but this story was one of their finest.
2. Stone dies of AIDS: On paper, the writers were taking a big risk with this one. Not only were they taking beloved teen Robin – a character that had grown up onscreen played by the wonderful Kimberly McCullough since she was seven years old – and making her HIV positive, but they were also killing off her love interest. It was a gutsy move. It paid off in spades. Fans were broken-hearted when Stone died in Robin’s arms. They also rallied around her – much like her onscreen friends and family like Mac, Felicia, Brenda and Sonny – because they wanted the character to succeed and thrive. Back when Robin was diagnosed HIV positive, AIDS was still almost always a death sentence. Things have changed these days but I, for one, will never forget a then blind Stone getting his eyesight back long enough to get one final glimpse of Robin before passing away. “I can see you, Robin.”
1. Maxie gets BJ’s heart: I don’t know anyone that wasn’t a sobbing mess on the floor for this storyline. The writing for this tale was top notch, with fans preparing themselves for months that young Maxie was going to die without a new heart. We even got the obligatory return of her deadbeat dad to say goodbye. Then, out of nowhere (these were the days before spoilers on the Internet kids), cousin BJ was involved in a bus accident and declared brain dead. The scene where Maxie’s mother Felicia is trying to find sister-in-law Bobbie (BJ’s mom) to tell her they found a heart for Maxie – without realizing who the donor really was – was one of the most heartbreaking scenes in soap history. From the two women sinking to the floor together, to Felicia’s simple “Not Barbara Jean’s heart,” to a grief stricken Tony listening to his daughter’s heart beat in his niece’s chest – this was truly GH’s greatest moment.
Honorable mentions go to: The Cassadines trying to freeze the world, the Jax/Brenda/Sonny love triangle, Heather Webber frames Anne Logan, Steve Hardy dies, Laura reveals Nikolas’ parentage, Robin and Jason’s love story, Scotty and Dominique’s love story, Kevin and Lucy’s love story, Clink/Boom and Tracy withholds Edward’s heart medication.
What do you think? What are the best storylines in GH history?