Home Television A Real Soap Opera: ABC’s “General Hospital” Kills off an Unpopular Character,...

Franco, a one time rapist and bad guy, is no longer alive on “General Hospital.”

On Tuesday, the ABC soap killed off the unpopular character– unpopular among the show’s other characters as well with fans– by shooting him in the heart. Actor Roger Howarth, who’s played the part since 2013, was seen in a pool of realistic blood.

Immediately Twitter lit up with worries that Howarth, who’s been on ABC soaps since 1993, had been fired.

I immediately checked with a couple of insiders who told me, “He’s coming back as another character.”

Indeed, Howarth told Soap Opera Digest later in the day, that Franco was gone but he wasn’t leaving. He’ll be back after a short break.

He said, “I’m really excited. I have great faith in the people who think of these things. I’ve been in good hands so far.”

Howarth played the character of Todd Manning for years on “One Life to Live.” When that show was cancelled, he moved Manning to “General Hospital.” But then, in a soap twist, ABC sold the online rights to “OLTL” to Prospect Park Productions, and Howarth was recast on “GH” as Franco, a psycho artist originally played by James Franco. (Long story there, not worth retelling.)

But Franco carried a lot of baggage. He’d been a rapist, a scoundrel, plotted someone else’s rape, and was despised by the people of Port Charles. Whoever Howarth returns as has to be more popular, and a relief, I would think, for the actor.

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