How General Hospital's Jason Quartermaine Became Jason Morgan

When legacy character Jason Morgan was killed off of "General Hospital" in 2021 because actor Steve Burton refused to comply with the show's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, longtime fans were devastated. Though Jason has come back from the dead on "GH" once before, it doesn't appear as if there are any plans to bring him back in the near future since it's been announced that Burton will be reprising his role of Harris Michaels on soap spin-off "Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem."

On "GH," Jason was the product of an affair between Alan Quartermaine and Susan Moore. Though Alan's wife Monica Quartermaine was initially resentful of the child, she grew to love him as her own and eventually adopted him. Jason was raised alongside Monica and Alan's other two children, A.J. and Emily Quartermaine.

The role was played by a few child actors in the 1980s, but Steve Burton, the recognizable Jason fans know and love, took on the role in 1991 after the character returned from boarding school, having been SORASed. In the following 30 years, Jason became known as the right-hand to mobster Sonny Corinthos, the best friend of Carly Corinthos, and for his longtime relationship with Sam McCall.

So how exactly did the preppy golden boy Jason Quartermaine turn into the stoic, leather jacket-wearing, motorcycle riding, gun-toting, hitman Jason Morgan?

Jason Quartermaine loses his memory

After returning from boarding school in 1991, brothers Jason and A.J. Quartermaine had become polar opposites. While Jason was athletic and popular, A.J. was deeply troubled and had developed a severe drinking problem, even as a teenager (via Soap Central). By 1995, A.J. (Sean Kanan) had been arrested for drunk driving four different times. Once, his father Alan Quartermaine (Stuart Damon) had left him in jail overnight hoping that would teach him a lesson, another time his girlfriend Nikki Langton (Camille Cooper) took the fall for him, and his grandmother Lila Quartermaine (Anna Lee) even offered to give him his substantial inheritance if he could stay out of trouble, but nothing seemed to work.

In December 1995, Jason found an intoxicated A.J. preparing to drive his car once again and tried to stop him. Unable to keep his brother from getting behind the wheel, Jason jumped into the passenger seat. Unfortunately, an impaired A.J. crashed the car into a tree and Jason suffered a severe head injury.

When Jason woke up in the hospital after a brief coma, everyone was shocked to find that he was suffering from amnesia and had no recollection of his life or his loved ones (via Soap Opera Spy). Jason felt resentful of his family who wanted so desperately for him to remember them he pushed everyone away except for his sister Emily Quartermaine (then Amber Tamblyn) and his grandmother Lila. Jason ultimately decided to drop his Quartermaine name and instead adopted Lila's maiden name — thus, Jason Morgan was born.

Jason Morgan creates a new life for himself

Having left the suffocating confinement that the Quartermaine family had placed him in, the brand-new Jason Morgan went out in search of his own life. He quickly befriended local mobster Sonny Corinthos who offered him a job in his organization. Jason discovered that he had the skill-set to be a great enforcer for Sonny and the job fit his new personality, which was much darker than it had been before the accident (via Soap Central).

Jason quickly became Sonny's number two and the men forged a deep friendship that would endure for the next several decades. Sonny and the people in his life became the only family Jason could remember and the only one he cared to have. Eventually, when Sonny's son (and Jason's biological nephew) Michael Corinthos was shot in the head and left in a coma in 2009, Jason gained a new perspective on what the Quartermaine family had gone through after his accident. He began to soften toward them and eventually forged a relationship with his mother, though he still called her Monica (via Soaps in Depth).

Despite his tentative ties to his old life, Jason Morgan never regained his old memories and has remained one of the very few characters on daytime TV to never recover from their amnesia. Instead, the character changed from Jason Quartermaine to Jason Morgan the moment he woke up after the accident, and the show has never looked back.

Actor Steve Burton contributed to Jason's reinvention

In a 2008 interview with Soap Opera Digest, Steve Burton explained that he was part of the reason "General Hospital" writers decided to reinvent his character Jason. Burton admitted that in the time before Jason Quartermaine lost his memory, he was considering leaving the show. It wasn't until co-star Maurice Benard took him under his wing and introduced him to method acting that he became reinvested in his role. He said, "I got fired up again about acting. . . depth of character was what we were working on, so I was really into it."

According to Burton, the soap's writers noticed the change in his acting approach and felt that it would be better suited to a different personality type. "I guess the writers started seeing something that was happening and they had the idea of making me a new character and basically starting from scratch. It has been a great journey for me as an actor," Burton claimed.

Because "GH" made the decision to use Jason Quartermaine's amnesia as an opportunity to create an entirely new persona for the character, it's unlikely that he will ever go back to the light-hearted aspiring doctor he once was — though, that doesn't mean the show has stopped messing with Jason's memory.

General Hospital continued to mess with Jason's memory

In 2017, an unknown man appeared on "GH" and was struck by a car and lost his memory. Later, Port Charles residents determined that the amnesiac man (dubbed "Jake Doe") was Jason Morgan, who had been presumed dead years earlier (via Soap Opera Spy). Though this would have been the second time the man would have to start his life over, this time he began recalling flashes of his past.

Eventually, the truth was revealed that Jake Doe was not actually Jason Morgan, but instead, his long-lost twin Drew Cain. Jason and Drew had been subjects in a clandestine twin experiment in which scientists extracted Jason's memories and implanted them into his brother Drew. When Drew began regaining his memory after the accident, it was actually Jason's memories that were coming back to him. The real Jason eventually came back to town, with his mind and identity intact. However, Drew made the decision to keep Jason's memories instead of having his own transferred back, due to the risk that he would forget everything that happened after he showed up in Port Charles, which included the birth of his daughter (via Soaps).

Jason has since been killed off the show and Drew, similarly to what happened to his brother, has had to build a new life for himself, having none of his own memories prior to the experimental procedure. However, he still carries Jason Morgan's memories around in his head — but Jason Quartermaine's memories remain lost forever.