Rebecca Herbst Praises The Storyline That Defined Elizabeth Nearly 25 Years Ago

August 1, 2022 marked "General Hospital" royalty Rebecca Herbst's 25th anniversary as Elizabeth Webber. As Elizabeth, the three-time Daytime Emmy-nominated actress has been the heart and soul of the soap opera's best storylines, and elevated scenes where she's only featured for a few minutes. Over on Twitter, the "General Hospital" fandom celebrated Herbst's major milestone with throwback pictures and episode clips of her performance over the years.

Elizabeth's chaotic love life is legendary on "GH." She's also been integral to some of the show's most explosive plots. In her hardest moments, Elizabeth's realistic reactions and mistakes make the emotional payoff that much more impactful. Her palpable grief moments after losing Franco gave devoted Liz fans chills, per Daytime Confidential. The top five Elizabeth Webber storylines center on relatable issues including trauma, fear of loss, guilt, and redemption. There's one heavy storyline that Herbst credits for making her character who she is today.

The heartbreaking inspiration behind Elizabeth's assault storyline

One of the most gut-wrenching storylines on "General Hospital" was drawn from reality. In 1998, after the Valentine's Day dance, Elizabeth Webber was attacked and raped, according to Soaps in Depth. "General Hospital" was praised for its handling of how the aftermath heavily impacted her character and for raising awareness on sexual violence, which most likely contributed to their 1998 Shine Award (Sexual Health in Entertainment) win, per Variety

For this storyline, former "GH" writer, Michele Val Jean, vulnerably channeled her personal experience into the writing, reports Soap Hub. On February 13, Val Jean retweeted a series of stills from the episode. In her accompanying message, she thanked Rebecca Herbst for her care in bringing this to life 24 years ago and opened up about its effect on her, writing, "Hard to believe this was 24 years ago. Still seared on my heart. Thank you [Rebecca Herbst] for your sensitivity and brilliance. You were... you are... a gift."'

Days later, Herbst lovingly replied to the veteran soap writer. In her tweet, she showered Val Jean in praise for trusting her with her story, writing, "You, my beautiful friend [Michele Val Jean] are the gift. Thank you for sharing your soul with the world. Love you always..."

The "Bold and the Beautiful" writer tweeted her joint interview with Herbst for now-defunct magazine Soap Opera Weekly, and detailed how writing this character arc for Elizabeth was therapeutic.

This storyline's impact is felt decades later

Fans turned to Twitter to share what the emotional storyline meant to them. In one tweet, a fan credited Michele Val Jean's powerful writing and the performance delivered by Rebecca Herbst for making her a lifelong fan, writing, "This story made me a fan of Becky & Elizabeth. The writing, the acting ... everything was nuanced and compelling. Hope you both are healthy and safe."

In the past, "General Hospital" has faced backlash for its minimizing and romanticization of assault, namely when Luke Spencer raped Laura Spencer (née Webber), only for them to fall in love later on, as reported by TV Insider. The conflicted history of Luke and Laura was even addressed years later by Genie Francis, one half of the former supercouple, per People.

In one tweet, a viewer directly referenced this controversial moment and commended Val Jean for the honesty she brought to the show, writing, "Ms. Val Jean is a brave woman for putting your pain into the story. You also managed to take the tainted legacy of Luke and Laura and face the past. ['General Hospital'] is a better show because of [that]. The moments you penned are among the best."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).