Tainted love: A case of bad romance
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Kissing cousins, scorned women, and vengeful men are just a few of the ingredients for a bad romance. This week, our columnist shines a spotlight on the all-time worst romances on General Hospital.

Last week, I wrote about GH's all-time top five supercouples, so I figured that this week I'd shine the light on the worst of the worst bad romances to grace our screens through the years. There certainly were quite a few to choose from, which made it hard to narrow them down to just a handful.

For instance, there's Tony Jones and Carly Benson, who were a complete train wreck from the onset because Carly targeted Tony to punish her biological mother, Bobbie Spencer, for giving Carly up for adoption. It surprised no one, least of all the viewers when Tony shaved his head and dove into the deep end of madness until Carly shot him in open court, which earned her a short stint in an institution for the criminally insane. Then there's the case of an injured and amnesiac Nikolas Cassadine who had the misfortune to cross paths with Mary Bishop, an emotionally unstable widow "mourning" a husband who just so happened to look exactly like Nikolas.

In an exceptionally long list of spectacularly bad romances, there are a few that stand out in my memory more than others because of the impact that they've had on the storylines at the time and the long-lasting ramifications the unions created. At the top of my list is a couple who gave new meaning to dysfunction.

Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and Claudia Zacchara (Sarah Joy Brown)

You'd think that a powerful mob boss like Sonny Corinthos marrying a mob princess would be a match made in heaven, especially when that femme fatale is portrayed by the original Carly Benson, Sarah Joy Brown. There was an undeniable chemistry between Maurice and Sarah during their days playing Sonny and Carly, and their fans were eager to see them recapture that winning spark. Unfortunately, the match made in crime family heaven was doomed from the moment it was revealed that Claudia had played a role in the hit against Sonny that had resulted in the assassin's bullet going astray and striking young Michael (Quartermaine) Corinthos in the head.

Nothing, not even the baby that Claudia managed to get herself pregnant with, could undo that original sin, and she knew it. That's why she snapped when she miscarried following a car accident. Claudia knew there would be no stopping the wraths of Sonny and Carly once her ugly past caught up with her. Any hope for a last-minute reprieve was dashed when a crazed and grief-stricken Claudia attempted to kidnap Carly's newborn daughter.

In one of the most chilling scenes in this show's history that I can remember, Michael arrived at a secluded cabin in the woods during a stormy night just as his mother cried out in alarm from inside. Michael grabbed a long axe handle propped next to the door then entered the cabin and swung, bashing Claudia in the head as she attempted to abscond with the newborn. Claudia was killed instantly.

If only the nightmare had ended there! In an effort to protect Michael, Sonny, Carly, and Jason worked together to cover up the tragic death, which had been completely justified. After lying and wasting the court's time, Michael was used as an example to teach Sonny, Carly, and Jason that covering up and lying was not the way to handle things. I can't emphasize this enough -- Michael's act was heroic, not criminal.

At one point, it did appear as if something real might develop between Sonny and Claudia, but the writers never really gave this pairing a chance. As I said, Sonny would never have been able to forgive Claudia for being in cahoots with Ian Devlin.

Sonny and Claudia would have made an amazing and formidable couple if they had been given a chance, but in their quest to throw obstacles in the path of love, the writers went too far. Not only was Sonny and Claudia's relationship over before it began because Claudia had been complicit in Michael's shooting, but Claudia's fate was sealed. That was the bigger shame because Sarah is a phenomenal actress, and we were lucky to have had that kind of talent on the show.

Toward the end, the writing for Claudia was pretty shabby. The relationship was toxic, and I doubt that Claudia would have lived a long life, even if her baby had lived. She was self-destructive and her own worst enemy. Sarah's fans weren't happy that Claudia was killed off, but I think almost everyone was delighted that this couple was over.

Franco Baldwin (Roger Howarth) and Carly Jacks-Corinthos (Laura Wright)

Once upon a time, James Franco had a guest role on GH as an infamous artist named Franco who moonlighted as a serial killer and used his murder scenes to create art. Franco was charismatic, diabolical, and completely without remorse. It was a brilliant storyline complete with a nifty street tag: CO77X

Fast-forward to when ABC announced that three characters from the canceled soap opera One Life to Live would be relocating to Port Charles. Roger Howarth joined the cast as Todd Manning, and things were great until they weren't because Prospect Park had bought the rights to One Life to Live and objected to the characters being on GH. A lawsuit was filed, and ABC gave each of the actors new roles. Roger was recast as Franco.

In a mind-boggling move, the writers decided to blame all the murders, kidnappings, attempted murders, and mayhem that Franco had committed during his reign of terror on a brain tumor. They also paired Franco up with Carly, the mother of Michael (Quartermaine) Corinthos, who was violently raped in prison by the man that Franco had hired to "guard" Michael. Carly is also the best friend of Jason Morgan, the man that Franco had been obsessed with during his brain tumor days because he believed that he was Jason's long-lost twin brother. Even Monica threw her arms around Franco, which just goes to show how absurd this whole story was.

I don't know many who liked Franco and Carly because it made Carly look like a rotten mother, especially when she was reminded time and again by Michael how much it hurt him to see her with Franco. Worse, it was hard to see Franco as being a changed man post-brain tumor when his presence in Carly's life was torture to Michael. Brain-tumor Franco thrived on that kind of mental manipulation.

Carly has had a lot of bad moments in life. She seduced her mother's husband, lied about her child's paternity, set a recovering alcoholic on the path to relapse, and faked her death to teach Sonny a lesson. Her relationship with Franco rates right up there among those horrible choices. Sleeping with the man who conspired with your son's rapist -- even if Franco had no idea what Carter was capable of -- is awful, and it's utterly selfish.

It took a long time for me to warm to Franco, in part because of his relationship with Carly. I blamed Carly for hurting Michael, but I questioned Franco's "recovery" because of the way he behaved during his relationship with Carly and how he confronted her about sleeping with Sonny. It wasn't until Franco took LSD to be with Nina in an asylum that I was convinced that he had changed. The old Franco had been far too selfish to make such a sacrifice.

Stavros Cassadine (Robert Kelker-Kelly) and Laura Webber-Spencer (Genie Fancis)

I always found it unsettling how often the writers over the years threw Laura into the path of a sexual predator. It was a theme that started with a man named David Hamilton, who exploited Laura as a minor; it continued with Luke, who raped her; and then there was Stavros Cassadine, originally portrayed by John Martinuzzi (1983).

Initially, the story was that Stavros had become besotted with Laura during her captivity on his family's island in Greece, so he had followed Laura to Port Charles. Things quickly reached a head when Stavros confronted Luke and Laura, and aided by a small army of goons, took the reunited couple hostage. With Luke tied to the bedposts in the master bedroom, Stavros attempted to rape Laura on the bed that she had shared with Luke as Luke was forced to watch.

Luckily, Luke managed to break free before the nasty deed was done. He knocked Stavros out then grabbed Laura and ran. The escaped lovebirds' mistake was in stopping at the front door to chat and share a kiss because it gave Stavros enough time to regain consciousness and stumble to the top of the staircase. Alas, Stavros was in no shape to give chase because he tumbled down the stairs and ended in a heap at Luke and Laura's feet. Later, Stavros succumbed to his injuries at the hospital -- or so we had been led to believe.

Fast-forward nearly two decades, and a defrosted Stavros returned in the form of Robert Kelker-Kelly. By this time, viewers had learned that during Laura's captivity on Cassadine Island, she had been forced to marry Stavros and had given birth to his heir, Prince Nikolas Mikhail Stavrosovich Cassadine. Nikolas was Laura's firstborn, not Lucky, which did not sit well with Lucky when Nikolas arrived in Port Charles with his uncle Stefan.

Also, during her time as a captive bride, Laura had fallen in love with Stavros' younger brother Stefan, and Stefan had been instrumental in her escape. The star-crossed lovers parted with Stefan promising to stay behind to watch over infant Nikolas. For a time, there had even been a question about Nikolas' paternity because Laura and Stefan had consummated their love, but a DNA test would confirm that Stavros was indeed Nikolas' father.

Laura's marriage to Stavros was brief, but the ramifications were lasting. Not only was the unholy union the driving force behind Stavros' ongoing obsession with Laura then her daughter, Lulu, but it was also what kept Helena Cassadine's evil eyes firmly focused on Port Charles. Helena was determined to shape Nikolas into her image of a perfect Cassadine (dark) prince.

I have always loved the action and adventure that the Cassadines bring to the show, but Stavros' creepy obsession to have a child with Laura then her daughter was just too much. My biggest issue, though, is that I hate how he blackmailed Laura to have sex with him until she gave birth to his heir by threatening to kill her loved ones. But for that threat, Laura would not have gone through with any of it: the marriage, the sex, the pregnancy. It was coercion, and in my book, that is rape.

Jeff Webber (Richard Dean Anderson) and Heather Grant (Robin Mattson)

Have you ever wondered how Heather Webber ended up mad as a hatter during a full moon? It was a man.

It started long ago when scheming -- but perfectly sane -- Heather Grant fell in love with a dashing young doctor named Jeff Webber. Jeff was the golden boy at the hospital, and Heather fell hard. Too bad for her, Jeff's love for Heather wasn't as all-consuming as hers was for him.

After a bitter argument with his first wife, Monica, Jeff had a one-night stand with Heather. Monica would go on to marry another handsome doctor named Alan Quartermaine, and she would engage in a torrid on-again, off-again affair with Jeff's older brother, Rick, but I digress. Back to Heather, who soon discovered that she was pregnant. Jeff quickly quashed her dreams of living the life of leisure as a doctor's wife raising their child when he made it clear that he was staying with Monica, and he wanted nothing to do with the baby. Heather agreed to have an abortion.

Instead, Heather laid low until she had her baby, then, with the help of her shady landlady and a lawyer, she sold her son on the black market to the couple that Heather had worked for as a nanny. Heather was livid when she ended up with a paltry small fraction of the $10, 000 that Peter and Diana Taylor had paid because her partners in the scheme had taken the lion's share of the money.

Heather told Jeff that the baby had been stillborn, and to Heather's delight, a guilt-ridden Jeff -- whose marriage to Monica was over by this point -- proposed marriage. Heather returned to work caring for the Taylors' newly adopted son (Steven Lars/Peter Junior), while she plotted ways to get him back. Meanwhile, the Taylors noticed Heather's obsession with their son, so they fired her. Heather managed to pull it together enough to discredit the new nanny and earn herself a second chance.

Jeff and Heather married, but Jeff spent little time with his wife because his focus was on his medical career. Despite having the man and the life that she had always dreamed of, Heather was a miserable mess. She wanted her son back, and she decided that she could accomplish this goal by having Diana declared mentally unfit, which would pave the way for Heather to "adopt" her son, since Peter and Diana had made Jeff and Heather the child's guardians in the event that anything happened to them.

This led to Heather's fateful decision to lace Diana's iced tea with a massive dose of LSD. By this time, Heather's son was a toddler, and he had switched the glasses while Heather and Diana weren't paying attention. Heather chugged the tainted beverage, and, as the potent drug took effect, Heather's sanity evaporated. Jeff was forced to admit his catatonic bride to a sanitarium.

This nightmarish story played out over three years, and it was actually quite gripping. However, the relationship was awful for Jeff because of the way Heather lied to and manipulated him. You don't treat someone you love the way that Heather treated Jeff.

Eventually, Jeff was given custody of his son, Steven Lars. He left town with Steven and went on to have three more children: Sarah and Elizabeth Webber, and Hayden Barnes. His children all made their way to Port Charles, but Jeff has remained as far away as possible. I blame Heather.

Jimmy Lee Holt (Steve Bond) and Celia Quartermaine (Sherilyn Wolter)

Jimmy Lee Holt is the illegitimate son of Edward Quartermaine and an ex-lover named Beatrice LeSeur. Jimmy Lee grew up in Indiana and far away from Edward and the luxurious life that Edward's legitimate children, Alan and Tracy Quartermaine, enjoyed. Celia Quartermaine was the daughter of Quentin Quartermaine, one of Edward's first cousins.

I'm not sure what that made Jimmy Lee and Celia, but I always found the relationship way too incestuous for my liking. The writers created a lot of angst and tension between the two by inserting Grant Putnam as the protagonist, but I just couldn't get past that kissing cousins label to see them as anything but wrong.

It didn't help that I always had the impression that Celia enjoyed the chase more than being caught. Perhaps that's why the marriage didn't weather Jimmy Lee's reversal of fortune when he lost everything. Regardless, I wasn't sad when both characters left the show, each going their own separate way.

The last that we heard about Jimmy Lee was during the reading of Edward's will, which cut Jimmy Lee out entirely.

A few honorable mentions

Tracy Quartermaine and most of her husbands
If anyone has a special knack for picking the worst possible person to marry, it's Tracy Quartermaine. She's so good at it that she has married no less than four lousy men including two mobsters, a serial killer, and a shameless con man. In fact, Luke Spencer is the only husband that I can say genuinely loved Tracy.

Levi Dunkleman and Maxie Jones
Toxic, controlling, annoying, and aggressively vegan are just a few of the ways that this horrible relationship can be described. The Germans have a great word for how I feel about Levi: ekelhaft.

Sonny Corinthos and Emily Quartermaine
I have no idea what the writers were thinking when they decided to pair these two up, but it was both ill-conceived and terribly executed. I don't blame the actors for this at all. The storyline was horrible starting with the fact that Emily was still trying to recover from a horrific rape and Sonny was spiraling from his bipolar disorder.

Important programing note: GH returns on August 3, 2020, with all new episodes. Be sure to tune in!

Reader feedback

I don't see any supercouples on GH right now -- plenty of just regular couples that I like but none that I can't wait to see what they're up to. I like all the characters and actors in the Michael/Chase/Sasha/Willow storyline, but none of them sizzle together. However, I could see Chase and Brook Lynn together as a couple on the run. -- Andrew

As Laura once tried to explain to Lucky, when he first learned what happened, it would be a mistake to try to judge Luke -- or his relationship with Laura -- on the basis of that one night, alone. If you do, you'll only get a small part of the whole picture. -- Scrimmage

A supercouple has staying power -- the chemistry remains. Luke and Laura had that in spades. When Anthony Geary left the show and Laura was presented with a letter from Luke, fans were screaming to know what was in the letter. We never learned; that simple scene illustrates the pull of this couple to this day. -- Humor Me

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to leave a comment below or email me. Take care and happy viewing,
Liz Masters

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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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