The Top 5 Most Shocking General Hospital Recasts Ever

Soap operas typically air five days a week with almost no breaks throughout the year. With such a high level of exposure, it's easy to understand why viewers become invested in the actors behind the characters they love. The person playing the role becomes synonymous with the character, which can make it difficult to digest an unexpected change of actor in the middle of a storyline. There have even been several instances where a popular star or at least one with a lot of mileage was abruptly removed from the part, mid-storyline.

"General Hospital" has an affinity for not only bringing characters back from the dead but also for finding new faces to take over pivotal roles. An example of this occurred in 2023 when long-time fan favorite Lexi Ainsworth was let go as Kristina Corinthos Davis. Kristina's recasting was a total misstep considering the number of years Ainsworth had invested in the role and her significant popularity with fans.

"Days Of Our Lives" veteran Kate Mansi stepped in just in time for Kristina's big storyline with her sister, Molly Lansing Davis (then Haley Pullos), and it was a hard sell at first. Mansi instantly took a different approach, displaying a more mature side of the chaotic and emotional character. Plus, with Molly's recast also thrown into the mix, the plot was comprised of actors in whom viewers had no emotional investment.

Kristina and Molly's recasts went hand in hand

If the Kristina Corinthos Davis recast with Kate Mansi wasn't enough to process, her sister Molly Lansing Davis was also given a fresh face after a megawatt scandal. Prior to her infertility and subsequent surrogacy storyline, Molly was largely placed on the back burner for several years. She made sporadic appearances when necessary, usually in scenes with the rest of the Davis girls. However, Molly was gearing up for a significant storyline right when a controversy with criminal implications erupted in star Amanda Pullos' personal life.

At first, Haley being recast was set to be a temporary solution, but as news of what allegedly went down during her car crash trickled in, it was evident she wouldn't be returning. Pullos was charged with felony DUI charges after a hit-and-run collision occurred, according to police, sealing her fate with "General Hospital."

In the summer of 2023, Brooke Ann Smith joined "GH" as the new Molly and a wave of negative feedback about her age began. Smith is older than Mansi, despite Smith's character being several years younger than her sister on the show. The actor's brother spoke out about the age-related comments, arguing, "The only reason age is an issue is because it's known. She looks extremely young in real life. It's quite freaky, actually. [She] routinely gets carded almost every time. On the show "Awkward," she played a 16-year-old high school student at 30!" (via Soaps in Depth).

Billy Miller was booted as Jason and moved to a new role

When Steve Burton exited "General Hospital" in 2012, it appeared as if his character Jason Morgan was going to remain gone as well. However, the character has a plethora of ties to the citizens of Port Charles, making Jason somewhat of a necessity to have on the canvas. When Billy Miller departed "The Young and the Restless" and joined "GH," a mystery developed regarding the identity of his character. Originally dubbed as "Jake Doe," it wasn't long before Elizabeth Webber (Rebecca Herbst) became privy to his true identity: Jason Morgan.

Elizabeth withheld the truth from everyone for as long as she could, but eventually, Carly Spencer (Laura Wright) put the pieces together. Miller remained as Jason for a while, but when Steve Burton was revealed as "Patient 6," Miller was quickly cast aside. Despite playing Jason for many years at that point, Miller was then relegated to the alternatively new role of "Drew Cain," Jason's twin brother.

Not long after becoming Drew, Miller made the choice to exit "GH" entirely, leaving behind a trail of wasted potential. Considering Burton was fired from "GH" in 2021, a return for Miller isn't entirely out of the question. One fan on Twitter expressed their desire for Miller to return again, writing, "Just bring back Billy Miller as Jason to replace #steveburton we all liked Billy better anyways."

A tale of two Ninas

Not only was it shocking for Michelle Stafford to leave "The Young and the Restless" after playing Phyllis Summers for many years, but her joining "General Hospital" tipped the scales. Her casting was kept completely quiet, and nobody was aware of her joining the cast until her scene aired at the end of an episode. Signing on as Nina Reeves, Stafford remained on "GH" for many years while Gina Tognoni kept her spot warm as Phyllis on "Y&R."

Sadly for Tognoni, Stafford ultimately wished to reclaim her role as Phyllis, paving the way for "Lost" alum Cynthia Watros to make her "General Hospital" debut. It was surprising to see Stafford leave the role she originated on "GH" and it was hard to fully accept Watros in the role at first. They presented two vastly different styles of Nina, with Watros being more calmly underhanded instead of outright frantic and erratic. One viewer tweeted, "Michelle was more manic. Cynthia plays Nina softer and gives a bit more rich white lady energy."

However, despite the initial shock value of Watros taking the reins from Stafford, the former has grown into the character. Since Stafford left, Watros has taken Nina to new levels of importance on the show, becoming romantically linked to central character, Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard). Stafford made her mark on the show with her version of Nina, but it's Watros who defied the odds and morphed the character into an everyday player. 

Roger Howarth was recast after Franco Baldwin's death

Roger Howarth has had one of the most bizarre runs on "General Hospital," playing three different characters from 2013 to 2023. His first foray into "GH" actually involved reprising his "One Life to Live" role as Todd Manning. However, an ongoing lawsuit between ABC and Prospect Park squashed the ability to use Todd. The actor elected to remain on "GH" following the official cancellation of the "OLTL" revival, however. Instead of Todd, Howarth stepped into the vacant shoes left behind by James Franco, becoming Franco Baldwin.

The reformed serial killer turned family man was the perfect fit for Howarth, with Franco finding true love with Elizabeth Webber. His transformation from the zany artist Franco to a respected member of society was a fun journey to embark on, but sadly, Franco was randomly killed off during a face-off with villain Peter August (Wes Ramsey). Elizabeth and Franco were a highly popular couple, so the decision to kill off the character left viewers scratching their heads.

However, shortly after Franco's death, it became clear that Howarth wasn't leaving the soap. Instead, he re-entered the picture as a mysterious new doctor named Austin Gatlin Holt. As one fan put it, on Twitter, "The times that I like Austin the best are the times I can just pretend he's Franco. Definitely a mistake to kill him off." Little is known about the doctor, but it didn't make sense to get rid of a major character only to bring someone in with a flimsy backstory.

The series of Nikolas Cassadine swaps

Marcus Coloma's casting journey on "General Hospital" has been shocking both because of his arrival on the scene and his sudden exit. Tyler Christopher was the face of Nikolas Cassadine for so many years, and his version came with a certain look to it. However, when it became obvious he wouldn't be returning to the role, someone had to fill the void; enter Marcus Coloma. On the surface, Coloma was an incredible grab for "GH" because of his demonstrable charisma and acting prowess, but his age was difficult to process.

Nikolas appearing as young as Coloma made for awkward pairings, and since his son, Spencer Cassadine (Nicholas Chavez), was rapidly aged, Coloma's youthfulness shined even brighter. Eventually, it became easier to accept Coloma in the role of Nikolas, but by the time that occurred, he was on his way out. In an abrupt move, Nikolas was abruptly recast with Adam Huss, and Coloma was sent packing. Coloma never even got to finish his final scenes, and his controversial "General Hospital" exit was met with little fanfare.

Not only was Nikolas recast unexpectedly in the middle of a major plot point on the show, but the character was seemingly killed off right as the new actor took over too. Nikolas has since made a grand return to the series, but for many months, it seemed as if they switched actors only to write the character an untimely demise. Unsurprisingly, fans weren't happy, and the machinations behind the decision remain unclear.