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The past decade has been dominated by mobsters Sonny Corinthos and Jason Morgan.
Most of the show's long-term fans have been alienated by increasingly dark stories and a growing trend of killing off veteran characters, supposedly to attract a younger audience.
Carly Roberts (Sarah Joy Brown) arrives in town and ingratiates herself into the life of Nurse Bobbie Jones (Jacklyn Zeman) -- her biological mother—when she enrolls in the nursing program at General Hospital.
Meanwhile, Carly begins an affair and friendship with mobster Jason Morgan (Steve Burton).
It was invigorated by the beloved (but controversial) pairing of Laura Webber Baldwin and Luke Spencer, a romance infamously spawned after Luke raped Laura at the Campus Disco in 1979.
The rape was retconned as a "seduction" (only to later be acknowledged as rape) and the pair became the original soap opera Super Couple. Storylines delved into international intrigue, involving Soviet spies, Aztec treasure, and megalomaniac Mikkos Cassadine (played by John Colicos,) who attempted to freeze Port Charles and take over the world.
Luke and Laura's wedding in November 1981 drew over 30 million viewers, and featured Elizabeth Taylor as Mikkos's widow.
A "love to hate" character who brings excitement to storylines because of her devious ways, Carly is the illegitimate daughter of former bad girl turned heroine, Bobbie Spencer (Jacklyn Zeman). Throughout the 2000s, Carly, then Tamara Braun (2001–05) goes on to become one of the show's most prominent, vital and popular characters largely due to her supercouple pairing with mobster Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and her friendship with Jason Morgan (then Steve Burton).
In 2012, with the show under threat of cancellation there was a radical change in showrunners.
The new regime ended the show's mob focus (more or less), bringing back veteran characters who were written out and restoring the titular hospital and many of the show's core families to the forefront again.
After being rejected by Bobbie, Carly seduces Bobbie's husband Doctor Tony Jones (Brad Maule) and she falls in love with him.
Bobbie's brother Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary) uncovers Carly's true identity and warns to stop hurting her mother.
Now the show is like most modern American soap operas again, with a mix between domestic/medical drama and outlandish adventure stories.