In a statement on his official web site, Nichols revealed that he has decided to leave the show to pursue other ventures outside of daytime television.
"I have chosen to leave General Hospital to pursue other opportunities in both television and film. I will be leaving at the first of the new year," Nichols said in the statement. "I have appreciated the opportunity to be a part of the creation of Stefan Cassadine and the chance to work with a fine group of actors and a wonderful crew. I will miss them all."
Nichols joined the cast of General Hospital in July 1995. His exit comes as the Cassadine family's presence on the show dwindles. In early November, Robert Kelker-Kelly (Stavros Cassadine) left the show as his character was phased out of concerns about the biological terrorism aspect of his storyline.
Rumors that Nichols might leave the show surfaced in August as it was reported that the actor was mulling a potential move to the East Coast and a role on the CBS soap As The World Turns. On ATWT, Nichols could have potentially reunited with his former co-star Mary Beth Evans (ex-Kayla Brady, Days of our Lives; ex Katherine Bell, General Hospital). Nichols and Evans played romantic interests on both DAYS and GH.
"We wish Stephen the best," states an ABC spokesperson.
Nichols will make his final GH appearance on January 14th. The role will not be recast.