GH burton collage anniversary

December 19, 1991, was a cold day in Port Charles. You might even say… a Stone Cold one.

Hard as it may be for newer General Hospital viewers to believe, Steve Burton didn’t always play steely-eyed, black-clad hitman Jason Morgan. In fact, when first we caught a glimpse of the actor’s unforgettable baby blues on December 19, 1991, he was playing kind-hearted, sweater-loving med student Jason Quartermaine. Yet from the start — long before the accident which would forever change the young man’s life — there was something a bit rough-around-the edges where Alan and Monica’s son was concerned.

In many regards, it was just another day in the Quartermaine mansion. Translation: The clan was bickering in the wake of yet another shake-up at the family business, ELQ. Alan was out, Ned was in, and — as seen in the clip below — tensions were high. Then into this dysfunctional dynamic walked a handsome young man with killer hair, a traffic-stopping smile and piercing blue eyes. “Well, well,” said a disgruntled A.J., “‘the bastard son returns.”

Proving himself far more than the fresh-faced preppy he appeared, Jason hauled off and slugged his half brother, then apologized if he’d “messed up the rug.”

Perhaps recognizing the mischievous glint in Jason’s eye, grandfather Edward beamed his approval. “I like you, boy… and you have one hell of a right hook!”

Jason Quartermaine had come home and, with Burton taking over the role from the children who’d previously played the part, life in Port Charles would never be the same.

More: General Hospital’s Quartermaine family album [PHOTOS]

Flash-forward 30 years, and pretty much everything has changed all over again. Jason went from being his family’s pride and joy to being Sonny Corinthos’ Mob enforcer. Jason’s innate goodness remained intact — he tried to be there for those that he loved — but he had, as your grandparents might say, fallen in with a bad crowd, one whose lives were so dangerous that his “widow” Sam McCall pulled out of their relationship in order to safeguard her children.

Behind the scenes, things were dramatic, too. In the fall of 2021, General Hospital put in place a COVID-19 vaccine mandate to protect the health and well-being of its cast and crew. Burton refused to comply and was let go. “Maybe one day… ” he said at the time, “I can return and finish my career as Jason Morgan. That would be an honor.

“And if not,” he went on, “I’m gonna take this amazing experience, move forward and be forever grateful.”

Are you finding it as difficult as we are to believe it’s been nearly three decades since Burton first joined General Hospital? While it would be impossible to relive every beat of Jason’s story, we do our darnedest in the photo-filled gallery below. Check it out after sharing your first — or favorite — memory of Burton’s run in the comments.

Video: YouTube/Jackal & Stone