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.

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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. Those gathered were able to agree on one thing — “Shut up, A.J.!” they shouted in unison — but that was about it. And 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.”

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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.

Flash-forward 29 years, and although pretty much everything about Jason has changed — including his surname — Burton has somehow remained the same young man who stole our hearts. Sure, he’s a little older — aren’t we all? — but the eyes are still as blue, the smile and talent still as dazzling. And while Burton has taken periodic breaks from the show, including his five-year stint as The Young and the Restless’ Dylan McAvoy, it’s General Hospital that fits him as snugly as Jason’s vast collection of black T-shirts.

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Upon returning to the show in 2017, Burton said via Twitter that General Hospital “has a huge place in my heart. It will always be home.” It’s a sentiment he’s repeated numerous times over the years, and fans were certainly happy to welcome him back.

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 darndest 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/General Hospital