Steve Burton to Leave 'General Hospital'
General Hospital's quest to lift up its ratings and remain on the air just took a heavy hit. Steve Burton, who has played Jason Quartermain Morgan for two decades has announced he is leaving the soap opera for personal reasons.
Burton's tenure on the show began in the early 90s after he'd been a regular on the NBC comedy, Out of This World. He played the "good" son to Alan and Monica, a clean cut teenager who never did anything wrong.
A few years into the run, Burton appeared on The Psychic Friends Network infomercial as a personal favor to Dionne Warwick who knew him because Burton had gone to school with her kids. Intriguingly, on that hour broadcast, a psychic predicted that Burton's character was in for a drastic shift. She was right. In an eerily timed twist of fate, Jason soon had a motorcycle accident that caused a head injury which severely altered his personality and led to his use of the Morgan surname.
Jason ended up in the mob, a hitman. This has created a lot of controversy over the years as some critics and fans have complained about the glorification of a killer on the show, while others have just swooned over the character's 'stone cold' appeal as he wore black shirts that showed off his muscles. The character has softened a bit over the ensuing years, but at the same time, Jason's power has also increased. He still is part of the mob.
Burton wed Sheree Gustin in 1999 and the couple has two children born in 2003 and 2006. Without expounding too much, he says he wants to spend more time with his kids and intends to move his family to Tennessee. He does still plan to continue acting and wants to produce as well. In fact, he has plans to work on a project with James Franco, who has recurred frequently on General Hospital in recent years.
Aware of the bad timing with his storyline on the show, Burton has agreed to stay on for several weeks to give the writers a chance to properly wrap up Jason's stories on the show and arrange for a decent exit. He is also open to short term returns.
As one of the show's more popular characters, Burton's exodus could be disastrous for the ratings unless someone new can take up the slack.