Fans of the long-running ABC soap opera General Hospital got shocking news Monday on the fate of iconic character Luke Spencer, originated by Anthony Geary who played him from 1978 to 2015.

Luke’s onscreen romance with Laura Webber (played by Genie Francis), became hugely popular with viewers. The characters’ 1981 wedding is one of the highest-rated episodes in the history of daytime TV, drawing an estimated 30 million viewers on its first airing.

Luke was revealed to have died offscreen in the episode by his most recent wife, Tracy Quartermaine (Jane Elliott), in a cable car accident in Austria. It is implied that the show’s main antagonist, Victor Cassadine (Charles Shaughnessy), engineered the accident.

Geary occasionally left the role to pursue other opportunities, and the characters’ storyline included extremely provocative elements including beginning the relationship with Luke raping Laura.

Geary won eight daytime Emmy awards for outstanding lead actor during his run on General Hospital. Francis won one daytime Emmy in 2007, and is still on the show to this day. Francis’ Laura was the shocked recipient of the news of Luke’s death in the episode scene, given their longtime connection.

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