The 1970s saw some major changes for Guiding Light, and for soaps in general. The demands of advertisers made it necessary to focus more on younger characters and competition with the many new soaps springing up forced them to be sexier and more shocking than before. That didn't mean that the series lost its heart. The Bauers continued to provide a balance and Bert returned to focus for a few years. To keep up with demand, the show expanded to a full one hour format in 1977 and changed its name, officially dropping the "The" and becoming simply "Guiding Light" in 1975.
The first few years of the decade saw many families from the 60s dwindle and fade. By the middle of the decade, head writers Bridget and Jerome Dobson were hired to take the helm of the show (they went on to create "Santa Barbara"). They substantially overhauled things, introducing many new characters and families who would stay with the series for decades and become focal. They brought on the Stapeltons, the Thorpes, the Fletchers, the Marlers and the Spauldings, radically altering the entire landscape of the show and the kinds of stories it would tell.
Symbolically, Papa Bauer died in 1973, after which, the Bauer clan was torn apart by romantic triangles. It was often a grim decade for the first family. Leslie Jackson Bauer was killed off and Roger Thorpe and Alan Spaulding's arrivals caused enormous turmoil in town. Plots revolved around characters returning from the dead, love triangles, alcoholism, mental illness, miscarriages, fake blindness, various affairs, custody battles, murders, frequent shootings, the romances of Rita Stapelton, rape (in and out of marriage) as well as Roger's increasingly psychotic behavior and supposed death.