It's the end of the line for one of General Hospital's most popular leading men. Emmy-winning heartthrob Steve Burton (Jason Morgan) has announced that he will be leaving the show, a place he's called home for more than two decades.
"I've been through 21 years of ups and downs with GH -- regime changes, cast and crew changes, budget cuts, shakeups of one kind or another, and it's been nothing but a huge positive in my life and for my family," Burton told TVGuide. "I have no complaints, no negative feelings at all. But it's time to go."
"Just wanted to thank all of you for your support over the years. You are amazing. It's been an incredible 21 yrs of my life. Thanks for all the luv," Burton posted to Twitter after TVGuide ran its article. "I know it's difficult for some. It is difficult for me. I luv the cast and crew... it has been home."
Away from General Hospital, Burton stated that he wants to spend time with his family and recharge his battery -- and possibly pursue other opportunities. Internet buzz has the actor headed to The Young and the Restless to reunite with GH's former executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps. Burton didn't deny the rumblings, musing he was "never going to say never because, as soon as I do, I'll be popping up over there!"
Confirmation of Burton's exit actually creates more questions for fans than they might have had while they were still wondering if he'd be leaving GH. Would Burton consider returning to the show for occasional appearances as so many other stars have done? Will General Hospital recast the role of Jason?
For his part, Burton explained that he would not rule anything out.
Burton joined General Hospital in 1990. He remained with GH for ten years, exiting briefly in 2000. Burton returned for short-term stints over the next two years before returning permanently in 2002.
In 1998, Burton was named Outstanding Supporting Actor at the Daytime Emmys. He received additional nods in 2000 and 2005, as well as a Younger Actor nomination in 1997.
Burton will tape his last episode on September 25, but the actor notes that he is open to extending his stay, if necessary, to help wrap up his character's storyline.
"They are trying to figure out my last day," Burton clarified.