Fifty-six years--that's how long General Hospital has been on the air. It's one of the longest-running shows on television and the longest-running American soap opera. There have been over 1400 episodes. It has followed generations of families in Port Charles, New York. There is almost nothing the show hasn't tried—families have murdered each other and intermarried, people, disappear for long periods, aliens come to visit, serial killers come and go, and paternity tests reveal big surprises.
It has had some of the wildest storylines on television and has some of the most loyal followers and fans in the world. Of course, some years on the show are just better than others. Everyone has their favorites, but here are our top ten most memorable years on General Hospital.
Any long-running drama needs to keep things interesting somehow, and, for General Hospital things like dramatic illnesses, accidents, and family drama aren’t always enough. That must be why the 1990 season saw the show bringing an alien into the show.
That year, Casey Rogers visited upstate New York from the planet Lumina. He needs young Robin Scorpio to help him locate a crystal that will take him back to his home planet. Somehow, General Hospital long-time favorite villain Cesar Faison has the crystal on Spoon Island. After much trouble, Casey, Robin, Frisco Jones, and Anna Devane manage to recover the crystal and Casey can return home.
In this insane season, wealthy Greco-Russian aristocrat Mikkos Cassadine works with his brothers Victor and Tony on a plot to take over the world. They steal the world’s biggest uncut diamond, dubbed the “Ice Princess,” which they’re going to use to power a weather machine that is going to freeze the world. If that could even work is pretty debatable, but it made for exciting television!
The brothers are stopped by Luke Spencer and Laura Webber. Mikkos and Tony are both killed, and Victor later goes to prison. The death of Mikkos prompts his villainous widow Helena Cassadine, famously played by Elizabeth Taylor, to curse Luke and Laura on their wedding day.
Among many other exciting and dramatic plot lines, the 2016 season saw the characters on General Hospital dealing with a mysterious serial killer. Patients were being murdered through injections all summer, and no one knew who was behind it. In August, we found out that Paul Hornsby was the killer… and that he wasn’t done.
Of course, Paul’s been a villain in the show since he was first introduced in 1991, but this storyline made it clear just how far he would go. He attacked Dr. Monica Quartermaine, and then a week later strangled Sabrina Santiago and left her in a supply closet. Everyone wondered why he had suddenly snapped, only to realize that he hadn’t. He’d killed Kyle Sloane the year before to get revenge after Kyle had raped Paul’s daughter Susan. Apparently, the one murder wasn’t enough and he continued after.
If you’ve watched any of the earlier episodes of General Hospital, you know the show was almost an adventure soap for a while. The 1984 season saw characters go on an Aztec adventure after Frisco Jones purchased what he thought was costume jewelry. Instead, a woman named Felicia Cummings shows up in Port Charles, intent on getting back the jewelry to match it up with the missing scepter. Together, they’re supposed to lead to a great treasure.
The two go down to Mexico with Robert Scorpio and Holly Sutton. The plot sort of falls apart, but people loved watching it because the locations were beautiful and the adventure was exciting.
The return of Jason Morgan Quartermaine was one of the biggest twists in General Hospital history. He’d supposedly been killed in a car accident in 2012 when his brother A.J. had been driving drunk. Of course, it seems that no one who dies on General Hospital is ever really dead!
Jason came back looking very different, as actor Billy Miller had taken over the role from the original actor, Steve Burton. He also had amnesia, so it took everyone a while to figure out who he really is. If you think that’s confusing, don’t even try to untangle his actual relationship to the Quartermaine family, his relationship with Sam McCall, or how the actor portraying Jason keeps changing.
In this season, young Maxie Jones needs a heart transplant at the tender age of four. She had grown up onscreen, and viewers were very attached to her, so this plotline was really closely followed by fans. Heart transplants on kids are difficult, even in the fictional world of General Hospital.
In a heartbreaking twist of fate—the kind that could only happen in a soap, really—a school bus accident left Maxie’s cousin Barbara Jean “B.J.” Jones brain dead. Her father decides to donate B.J.’s organs, and, of course, she’s a perfect match for Maxie. The moment when Dr. Tony Jones laid his head on Maxie’s chest and listened to his daughter’s heartbeat ranks as one of the biggest tearjerkers in General Hospital history.
Sonny Corinthos was always known as being hot-headed and prone to bursts of rage, which was initially explained as an abusive childhood, but, in 2006 it was revealed that his troubles were partly due to a previously undiagnosed bipolar disorder. He seeks help and is often seen taking pills on the show. The storyline has gone a long way to normalizing the disorder and educating a generation of soap viewers.
What’s really amazing is that the actor who portrays Sonny, Maurice Benard, also has bipolar disorder. He has a lot of influence over Sonny’s storylines and makes sure the show does its best to portray his illness in a positive light while still amping up the drama.
The 2013 season was an especially exciting one because, in April, the show marked its 50th anniversary. To celebrate, the show brought back many of the original cast, created storylines that evoked earlier storylines, and had plenty of wild twists and turns to keep people interested.
They resurrect the infamous Jerome crime family, begin a few new relationships, give Franco a brain tumor, and play hot potato with a new baby whose biological family connections are difficult to unravel. And, of course, people come back from the dead, evil twins are revealed, and someone’s kidnapping continues unabated. General Hospital’s fiftieth season was a thing to behold.
There’s no shortage of kidnappings and fake deaths and real murders on General Hospital, but Dr. Robin Scorpio-Drake’s long arc spent as a hostage of Cesar Faison, Jerry Jacks, Ewen Keenan, and Liesl Obrecht makes 2012 one of the best General Hospital seasons.
The plot takes her to Switzerland, sees her captors engage in a power struggle, and leaves her to brush with death several times. She also has to try to find a cure for Jerry Jacks, who is suffering from plutonium poisoning. Once she’s freed, she manages to resume her life with her husband, Dr. Patrick Drake, even though he had assumed she was dead and had been with someone else.
The 1995 season was hands down the best one because of the big risks it took. After Robin Scorpio and Stone Cane fell in love, everyone knew drama was in store for the young lovers—how could they not be? But, beyond the disapproval of Robin’s family awaited a scarier problem: HIV. Stone was diagnosed with HIV, then later diagnosed with AIDS. As his health worsened, his vision began to go, and he had to be cared for by Robin. His last words were, “Oh Robin, I see you.” Who didn’t sob when he said that?
At first, it seemed like a general morality plot: young street urchin gets AIDS and dies because drugs are bad! But then General Hospital did something few other shows were doing at the time: Robin was diagnosed with HIV, too, and managed to live a long and healthy life. It was a big risk, and it pays off as one of the most memorable and progressive moments in the show.