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How Steve Burton Could Return To General Hospital

Most of Hollywood has taken a stand in favor of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, leading a handful of talented performers to pursue other opportunities that do not require vaccination. Last week, "General Hospital" actor Steve Burton announced that he would depart his role on the long-running series, as a result of his refusal to accept a COVID-19 vaccination. In the same week, Burton's co-star Ingo Rademacher was also fired for the same reason.

Burton first began starring on "General Hospital" in 1992 and appeared in a total of 2,284 episodes (via IMDb). In a video message posted to Instagram, Burton said he was hurt by the network's decision to deny him both religious and medical exemptions. Despite mentioning the fact that both of his applications had been denied, Burton provided the public with no evidence to support his claims to be exempt from the mandate. The CDC continues to recommend that people receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, and emphasizes that the vaccines offered by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are both safe and effective (via CDC.gov).

Burton's last episode as Jason Morgan aired today on ABC. So, how did Jason exit the series onscreen?

Jason Morgan died in a tunnel collapse

While viewers were not treated to an actual death scene, Jason Morgan (Steve Burton) is said to have died when a tunnel collapsed on top of him. Though his family and friends are forced to mourn him without a body, Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) assures Carly Corinthos (Laura Wright) that no heartbeat was detected at the site of the collapse. He states simply, "Jason is dead." Jason's long-lost brother, Drew Cain (Cameron Mathison), is also left to mourn his loss, knowing that Jason died trying to rescue him.

Of course, Jason wouldn't be the first soap opera character to miraculously reappear years after an apparent death. In his Instagram video announcing his exit, Burton mentioned that he hoped he could return to the series at some point in the future, if the vaccine mandate is "lifted." While writers have done their best to give fans a sense of closure with the character's off-screen death, it would also seem that this exit leaves the door open — but only just a bit.