Soap Opera’s Outstanding Character Exits

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When a soap opera actor or actress leaves a show, it can be devastating for fans who adore them. What happens to the characters they leave behind? Sometimes soaps opt to recast, which can take time, and then there are instances where shows decide to have the character pass on cryptically, allowing for an easy return. Regardless, character exits can have some question marks around them after the announcement that an actor/actress is leaving a soap opera. While some lack luster, others are epic. As such, below is a list of some of the outstanding soap opera character exits.

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12. Y&R’s Dylan McAvoy

Young and the Restless (Y&R) fans were devastated when they learned the news that Dylan McAvoy would be leaving Genoa City. Often this would or could result in a character passing away, but the Y&R did something a little more interesting. McAvoy would be launched into a storyline where his cop career had him on a dangerous case. After diving in a little too deep undercover, McAvoy was sent into the witness protection program without the love of his life, Sharon. It was an interesting way to have a character leave a show, and an easy storyline to bring the actor and Dylan back to the Y&R someday.

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11. DOOL’s Jack Deveraux

Jack has exited a few times during his tenure on Days; however, his 2012 one was memorable. He’d pass away a hero of sorts, rescuing daughter Abby from an elevator (and ensuring her safe return first), only for the doors to be shut, the cable to cut, where he fell multiple feet to his demise. It was a devastating turn of events; however, the good news is that while everyone thought he had passed, he would return to the show some years later alive and well.

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10. Y&R’s Ashley Abbott

It’s always nice when character exits include simply leaving town on their terms, and when news hit in 2018 that actress Eileen Davidson was leaving the Y&R to spend more time with family, fans wondered how Ashley Abbott would leave town. The good news is that Ash left with a bang! After some family feuding with Jack, it would turn out that Dina and John left her the rights to all of Jabot’s product patents. Ashley would leave town in a blaze of glory, headed to Paris to open a company of her own. Luckily, she and Jack patched things up so that she could continue bringing the drama in Genoa City.

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9. GH’s Mike Corbin

Fans never want to see a character pass away, but GH viewers knew it was coming with Mike Corbin, as he battled Alzheimer’s. The storyline in general was beautifully told, with incredible performances by actors Max Gail and Maurice Benard (Sonny). With that said, GH audiences kept their tissue boxes close near the end, as Mike’s final weeks on the show, as well as his funeral, were some of the most emotional scenes of the year.

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8. GH’s Morgan Corinthos

Bryan Craig’s departure from GH meant something needed to be done with his Morgan Corinthos character. Would he be recast? Would his mental health issues have him sent away and brought back in another form? All those questions would be answered explosively in October 2016, when Morgan would fly off the handle after Ava switched the medication he was taking for his bipolar condition. After a car chase, then-Jason (really Drew) tried to get the youngster to pull out to the side of the road to calm down; however, Morgan’s car exploded right before anyone could get to him. This would launch a tremendous GH storyline that not only involved parents Sonny and Carly trying to figure who was behind it all, but it also brought back the infamous female mobster Olivia Jerome. It was something that GH and soap fans were talking about for months.

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7. Y&R’s Adam Newman #3

There have been many Adam Newmans over the years and this dynamic character is one that fans love to watch on screen, regardless of which actor is playing him. Actor Michael Muhney, better known to Y&R fans as Adam Newman #2, left the show in early 2014 after he drove off a cliff, only to come later that year in the form of Justin Hartley. While Y&R audiences loved Muhney, Hartley certainly won them over and fast. Primetime came calling shortly after, and Hartley jumped the Genoa City ship, heading to the greener pastures of This is Us. What was Y&R to do? Well, Hartley ended up leaving with a bang, having the Adam Newman character unconscious in a cabin that exploded. Fans bid adieu to Adam, but when a body wasn’t found in the land of soap operas, a window is opened for a potential return!

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6. GH’s Tracy Quartermaine

GH had a huge send-off for Jane Elliott, the actress who played Tracy Quartermaine for almost four decades. The show decided to launch a final storyline that had Tracy on a manhunt for a special painting that was tied to her deceased father, Edward. The final storyline offered the character a beautiful closing where she learned that her father truly did love and admire her. Tracy would sell the painting, leave Port Charles, and embark on an adventure to travel the world. She nicely bid adieu to the Quartermaine family, including her sons, Ned and Dillion. It was a wonderful goodbye to one of GH’s most iconic characters.

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5. Y&R’s Sage Newman

In this day and age, it’s hard to keep under wraps that any soap opera actor or actress leaving a show thanks to the Internet, so the passing of Sage Newman rocked the Y&R and its audiences. In October 2016, Sage finally learned that Baby Sully was in fact her son Christian, who everyone thought had passed on. As she raced to tell everyone the news, with Sharon and Sully/Christian in another car behind her, Sage would fall victim to a car accident. As quickly as the car crashed, Sage would meet her demise on the roadside with a shocked Sharon and baby Christian in her arms to say goodbye to. Sharon wasn’t the only one surprised, as Y&R fans had their eyes glued to the screen, unable to shake the idea that Sage Newman had just passed on.

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4. GH’s Jason Morgan

Steve Burton knows how to exit a show. The legendary soap opera actor has already hit this list with his Y&R Dylan McAvoy character. He grabs this spot as well for when GH’s Jason Morgan left Port Charles in 2012. The actor had been playing the character for about thirty years and was a fan favorite. After JaSam finally reunited that day, capping it all off with a cute family photo of them with son Danny, Jason would go off to run a quick mob errand. What happened next would forever be ingrained in the minds of all GH fans. Helping out one of Sonny’s mob employees Bernie, Jason would get shot by Cesar Faison (parading around as Duke Lavery) and then fall into the water on the docks. A body was never found and this left a door open for the Jason character to return. He would eventually be recast by actor Billy Miller, but when Burton returned, the real “Stone Cold” was reborn.

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3. DOOL’s Ciara Weston

Raise your hand if you think Ciara Weston is still alive! There were so many twists and turns that led to Ciara’s exit in the land of Salem, and viewers were on the edge of their seats for the entire summer months in 2020! It seemed as if Ciara and Ben would never get to enjoy their “happily ever after,” as right after they said their “I dos,” disaster struck at every turn. First, he was kidnapped, then she was. It would all culminate in an explosion that left DOOL audiences wondering if Ben would ever reunite with his love. Needless to say, that reunion finally happened in 2022!

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2. GH’s Julian Jerome

First came the cryptic tweets from actor William deVry who teased an exit for Julian, and then fans waited to see how Jerome would leave Port Charles. While it seemed as if he met his fate when he jumped off the Cassadine parapet (others have exited the show in that form), there would be multiple twists and turns before JJ said his final goodbye to fans, including some old ghostly returns from Connie Falconeri and Duke Lavery. Julian Jerome’s exit storyline kept fans on the edge of their seat the entire way.

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1. Days’ Stefano DiMera

Sadly, Joseph Mascolo retired from DOOL duties in early 2016 due to health issues. The iconic character was shot by Hope Brady in January of that year and many fans thought that this was the final hoorah for the legendary Stefano DiMera. Still, with the passing of Mascolo later in 2016, Days decided to give the actor a proper send-off. In early 2017, a storyline would be launched where DiMera was not killed by Hope after all. What was the best part of the send-off? While the crew in Salem was able to capture Stefano just long enough to prove that Hope was not a killer (thus releasing her from prison), DiMera escaped their captivity and the character took off somewhere mysteriously … in true Stefano fashion. A wonderful way to say goodbye to daytime drama’s most-loved criminal. Unfortunately, he would return in 2019 in the form of Steve Johnson, which leaves many question marks around whether Salem could ever truly be rid of Stefano’s “essence.”

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Dorathy Gass

Dorathy Gass

Dorathy Gass is an avid fan of daytime drama and has been watching Days of Our Lives, General Hospital, and Young and the Restless for over two decades now. As a full-time freelance writer, she gets to combine her love of soap operas and writing through her Fame 10 articles. Also a mother of two busy girls and a mommy blogger, she's been published multiple times over in Huffington Post Parents and Scary Mommy.